Alkyd versus water-borne Satin Impervo, and yellowing


Old 07-18-07, 11:38 AM
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Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: USA
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Alkyd versus water-borne Satin Impervo, and yellowing

I am in the process of painting my house, using Benjamin Moore. Walls are Regal eggshell, most of them super-white. For trim, we decided to go for alkyd-based Satin Impervo, also super-white. Since the beginning, I was aware that the alkyd paint would eventually yellow a little bit, and more so for the parts not exposed to sunlight. (We preferred alkyd paint over water-based paint because we really like the feel/texture/durability of oil paints, and, to a lesser degree, because the trim already had oil-based paint, so the surface prep was less than changing it to water-based). About 80% of the house is already painted.

However, I just saw inside my closet (painted 3 weeks ago), and noticed that the alkyd paint had already yellowed noticeably, surely because it’s inside a closet and there is no light. However, I am now concerned that the yellowing for the trim that does receive light may take place sooner rather than later. I had hoped that the yellowing for the exposed trim would not take place for 5-10 years. I now realize that, given that both walls and trim have the same color -- super-white -- and that walls are water-based but trim is oil-based, the “contrast” between non-yellowing and yellowing parts will be noticeable in years, not decades.

I think it is too late to change course and switch to BM Waterborne Impervo (which I understand feels like and alkyd paint without the yellowing and could probably have been a wiser choice). My general contractor is doing the painting, along with many, many more things, and we all are eager to finish after 5 months of work and inconvenience. I could theoretically ask for him to re-do the trim, but it will be costly (in dollars and time) and neither the contractor nor my wife (nor I) would be happy for the additional delay and “overkill”, and for my changing my mind this late.

Is my first impression with the closet a sign of what will come? My hope is that the closet experience is an aberration, given that the closet gets no light at all, and that the rest of the house will be fine for years to come. Is this hope reasonable? After how many years will yellowing become an issue – 5 to 10 years?

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Old 07-18-07, 12:07 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2005
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Yes oil base enamel will yellow over time and closets seem to yellow worse/sooner. Even the best white oil enamels will have some yellowing within a years time.

I don't often use BM products but have used a lot of SWP which has similiar lines of paint. IMO their proclassic waterborne is the best enamel I've ever used [waterborne impervo should be same] I had a paint rep tell me that the waterborne could be used over existing oil enamel with just a scuff sanding but I don't know that I'd entirely trust that.

Only you [and yours ] can make the decision as to whether or not to change paint now and as you know it will involve more time and $. I'd probably wait until it becomes an issue and then switch to waterborne.
Old 07-20-07, 05:57 AM
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: NJ
Posts: 23
Is there any chance that the painter did the walls in the closet about the same time he did the trim? While yellowing in the dark is not unusual, the degree you describe is usually a result of using the oil before the latex is completely cured. The reason is that the ammonia in the latex speeds up the yellowing process dramatically, especially in a closet where there would be no air circulation. (for this reason, never use ammonia based cleaners). If this is what happened, then you may be looking at yellowing beyond what you would ever see naturally. Otherwise, the yellowing in most other areas that get decent light should be so gradual that you may not even notice it unless you needed to touch up.
Old 07-20-07, 01:17 PM
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: Cape Cod
Posts: 4,320
I painted my kitchen table with the Impervo Alkyd
It was a matter of months before the areas under the woven fabric placemats were noticeably yellower than the rest of the table top

3 weeks is pretty fast
But considering my kitchen gets sunlight, and the placemats are not solid, nor permanent or always in place, I'd have to say 3 weeks for a closed closet is only "slightly" surprising to me

Only you can decide to change over now
Discuss it with the GC
It may be a big advantage price wise to do it now, it may not
It depends on many, many, factors
And remember the rest of the trim will not yellow nearly as fast
Not even close

Oh, and I simply took off the placemats for a few weeks and it's all good now

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