Latex paint vs acrylic emulsion ?

This has bugged me for a while. I see reference to Latex pain in the USA - Does anyone know if this is the same as what we Brits call acrylic emulsion paint?

The only Latex paint I am aware of in the UK is masonry paint.

Jack A Lopez3 months ago

I found the following paragraph in the English Wikipedia article for "Paint",


The paint type known as Emulsion in the UK and Latex in the United States is a water-borne dispersion of sub-micrometer polymer particles. These terms in their respective countries cover all paints that use synthetic polymers such as acrylic, vinyl acrylic (PVA), styrene acrylic, etc. as binders.[9] The term "latex" in the context of paint in the United States simply means an aqueous dispersion; latex rubber from the rubber tree is not an ingredient. These dispersions are prepared by emulsion polymerization. Such paints cure by a process called coalescence where first the water, and then the trace, or coalescing, solvent, evaporate and draw together and soften the binder particles and fuse them together into irreversibly bound networked structures, so that the paint cannot redissolve in the solvent/water that originally carried it. The residual surfactants in paint, as well as hydrolytic effects with some polymers cause the paint to remain susceptible to softening and, over time, degradation by water. The general term of latex paint is usually used in the United States, while the term emulsion paint is used for the same products in the UK and the term latex paint is not used at all.

I guess the Wiki article sums it up pretty well, but then it occurred to me you might want some anecdotal evidence too.

Having grown up in the Former United States (FUS), and lived here pretty much my whole life, I have seen cans of paint in hardware stores, sold as "latex paint", or "acrylic latex", or other words printed in big letters on the front of the can, including that word "latex"

But honestly, no one buying the paint really knows what's in it. Rather there is sort of this word "latex" in the description means the brushes, rollers, etc, can be cleaned up with water. So that "latex" is sort of a code word for, "soluble in water, but not after it 'dries'", if that makes sense.

Moreover, I have only ever seen the word "latex" on paints sold in 1 gallon, or 5 gallon containers, for painting walls, and outdoor furniture, and stuff like that.

Paint for small things, like arts and crafts, sold in small bottles, or tubes, measured in floz (fluid ounces?), that paint rarely, probably never, calls itself "latex". However the word "acrylic" is often seen on these small volume, artsy, paints. Also this "acrylic" artsy paint can typically be cleaned up with water.

Actually, the only, for certain, way to tell what kind of solvent, water or something else, is need to clean the brushes, it to read the instructions that come with the paint.

Also some kinds of paint, particularly the kind used for painting fingernails, do not call themselves "paint". Instead these are called, "nail polish", or "nail color".

Also, in the old days in the FUS, the only women painted their fingernails, or toenails, and this kind of decoration was seen as too "girly" for men.

Although, walking the streets of the FUS these days, there's no telling what kind of body decorations you might encounter, on either gender.

Final note: The paint used for painting fingernails can be used for other purposes too, like putting small marks on machine parts, to remember which part is which, or which is the "broken" part, or whatever.

rickharris (author)  Jack A Lopez3 months ago

Excellent answer Thanks. Never thought to check Wikipedia! or had much luck with Google.

Satisfied at last.

Like "your" Latex paint what we call Emulsion is water based but insoluable when dry.