How do you keep oil-based paint from turning yellow? Tips and tricks to avoid discoloration

If you’ve ever worked with oil-based paint, you may already know the frustrating issue of watching it turn yellow over time. It detracts from the beauty of the paint, and can even impact the overall look of your project. You might be thinking, “What can I do to prevent this?” Luckily, there are some steps you can take to keep oil-based paint from turning yellow, so you can have stunning, long-lasting paint jobs.

You don’t want to put all your hard work into painting a space, only for the color to change over time. One method to prevent yellowing is to select a non-yellowing oil-based paint. This will often be labeled on the paint can or product information, so keep an eye out when you’re purchasing paint. Additionally, it’s important to apply the paint thinly and evenly. If you apply the paint too thickly, it can cause the yellowing process to accelerate.

Another great tip to avoid yellowing is to block UV rays. UV rays from the sun can often cause oil-based paint to discolor, so if possible, try to lessen the amount of sunlight that hits a painted surface. Keep your curtains or blinds closed during peak sunlight hours, or place furniture or decorative objects in the way. By taking these steps in protecting your painted surfaces, you can have confidence that your beautiful, vibrant colors will stay that way for years to come.

How to choose the right oilbased paint for your project

Choosing the right oilbased paint for your project is crucial as it can affect the outcome of your painting job. Here are some factors to consider:

  • Type of project: Determine the type of surface you’ll be painting on and the conditions it will be exposed to. Different paints are made for different surfaces and environments.
  • Viscosity: Also known as the thickness of the paint, viscosity plays a role in coverage and leveling. Pick the appropriate viscosity based on the surface and the desired finish.
  • Drying time: Take into consideration the length of time you want to dedicate to the painting project. Some oilbased paints dry faster than others, but it’s important to consider how long it will take for it to dry between coats.

Consider the color and shade

When looking for oilbased paint, consider not only the color but also the shade you’re aiming for. Most oilbased paints tend to yellow as they age, so it’s essential to purchase paint with yellow resistance to prevent the color from shifting. Look for paint with high-quality pigments that resist fading, and choose shades that complement your home’s aesthetics. It’s also best to avoid extremely vivid colors that may require multiple coats to cover up.

Check the label

Read the label carefully before purchasing oilbased paint. The label should list the type of finish, whether it’s a gloss, semigloss, or satin finish, and include any added benefits like mildew resistance. Make sure the product you choose matches your requirements for surface, environment, and drying time to achieve the best results.

Consider hiring a professional

Pros Cons
Higher likelihood of a successful painting project Extra cost
Professional application and technique Less control over the outcome of the project
Expert advice with choosing the right paint for your project May require advanced booking

If you’re unsure about choosing the correct oilbased paint or if the idea of painting is daunting, consider hiring a professional. A professional painter can advise you on the right product for your project and can apply it using the best technique, providing you with a more secure paint job.

Differences between oilbased and waterbased paint

When it comes to painting, the first step is choosing the type of paint you will use. There are two main types of paint: oilbased and waterbased. Knowing the differences between them is important to ensure you choose the right one for your project.

  • Composition: The composition of oilbased paint is primarily oil, while waterbased paint is made up of water and acrylic or vinyl. This difference in composition affects the way the paint behaves and how it is applied.
  • Drying time: Oilbased paint takes a longer time to dry, typically between 6 to 8 hours, while waterbased paint dries faster, in about 1 to 2 hours. This may affect the way you schedule your painting project.
  • Finishing: Oilbased paint has a smooth and glossy finish, while waterbased paint can have a matte or glossy finish depending on the type of paint you use.

Understanding these differences is especially important when it comes to keeping your paint from turning yellow.

Preventing oilbased paint from turning yellow

One of the downsides of using oilbased paint is that it can turn yellow over time, especially in areas that don’t get a lot of natural light, like closets or basements. This can be prevented by taking the following precautions:

  • Choose a quality oilbased paint that is specifically formulated not to yellow over time.
  • Make sure the surface you are painting is clean and dry before applying the paint. Any dirt or moisture can cause the paint to yellow.
  • Avoid painting areas that don’t get a lot of natural light, as sunlight can help prevent yellowing.

By following these simple tips, you can ensure that your oilbased paint stays looking fresh and bright for years to come.


Knowing the differences between oilbased and waterbased paint is essential to choosing the right paint for your project. If you choose to use oilbased paint, taking simple precautions can help prevent it from turning yellow over time. With proper care, your freshly painted surfaces can stay looking new and vibrant for many years to come.

Oilbased Paint Waterbased Paint
Composed mainly of oil Composed mainly of water and acrylic or vinyl
Takes longer to dry Dries faster
Smooth and glossy finish Can have a matte or glossy finish

By using this table, you can easily compare and contrast the differences between oilbased and waterbased paint.

Tips for Applying Oilbased Paint Smoothly

If you’re planning on using oilbased paint, applying it smoothly is essential to prevent it from turning yellow over time. Here are some tips to help you achieve a professional-looking finish:

  • Prepare the surface: Before painting, make sure that the surface is clean, dry, and free of any dust or debris. Sanding the surface can also help the paint adhere better.
  • Use high-quality tools: Invest in high-quality brushes, rollers, and paint trays to ensure that the paint goes on smoothly. Avoid using cheap brushes or rollers that can leave streaks or shed fibers onto the surface.
  • Thin the paint: If the paint is too thick, it can be difficult to apply smoothly. You can thin it with a small amount of paint thinner or mineral spirits, but make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.
  • Apply in thin layers: Rather than trying to apply a thick layer of paint all at once, it’s better to apply several thin layers. This will help the paint dry evenly and prevent drips or runs.
  • Brush in one direction: When using a brush, try to brush in one direction rather than going back and forth. This will help prevent brush marks and leave a smooth finish.

Choosing the Right Brush

Using the right brush can make all the difference when it comes to applying oilbased paint smoothly. Here are some tips to help you choose the right brush for your project:

  • Consider the bristle type: Natural bristle brushes are typically the best choice for oilbased paints, as they provide the best coverage and leave a smooth finish. However, synthetic bristle brushes can also be used if they are of high quality.
  • Choose the right size: The size of the brush will depend on the size of the project. For large surfaces, a 3-4 inch brush is usually sufficient, while a smaller brush may be needed for detailed work.
  • Look for a tapered or chiseled brush: A tapered or chiseled brush allows you to create sharp edges and smooth lines, making it ideal for trim and detail work.

Avoiding Common Mistakes

Even if you follow all of the tips above, there are still a few common mistakes that can affect the finish of your paint job. Here are some mistakes to avoid:

  • Overbrushing: Brushing the paint too much can cause it to dry too slowly, leaving brush marks and a streaky finish.
  • Not allowing enough drying time: Oilbased paint takes longer to dry than other types of paint, so make sure to allow sufficient drying time between coats. Rushing the process can cause the paint to bubble or peel.
  • Skipping the primer: A primer can help the paint adhere better to the surface and prevent the paint from turning yellow over time. Make sure to use a primer that is compatible with oilbased paints.

To sum up, applying oilbased paint smoothly takes a little extra effort, but the results are well worth it. By following these tips and using high-quality tools, you can achieve a professional-looking finish that will last for years to come.

The Importance of Proper Ventilation When Using Oilbased Paint

Oilbased paints are notorious for yellowing over time, leaving a less-than-ideal finish on your project. One factor that can contribute to this yellowing is a lack of proper ventilation during the painting process.

  • Adequate airflow helps oilbased paint to dry properly, ensuring that the paint stays its true color for longer.
  • Without proper ventilation, the solvents in oilbased paint can evaporate and become trapped, leading to discoloration and other issues down the line.
  • Poor ventilation can also make painting with oilbased paints more dangerous, as fumes from the solvents can build up and cause health problems if inhaled.

So, how can you ensure that you’re properly ventilating your workspace when painting with oilbased paints?

Firstly, make sure you’re painting in an area with plenty of open windows or ventilation fans. You want to create a flow of air that will carry fumes away from your workspace.

Secondly, consider wearing a respirator mask to protect yourself from inhaling any harmful fumes. Look for a mask designed for use with oilbased paints specifically, as these will offer the best protection.

Finally, be sure to give your painted surfaces plenty of time to dry before touching them or moving them. Rushing the drying process by increasing temperature or airflow can lead to unwanted yellowing and other issues.

Factors Contributing to Proper Ventilation Why Is This Important?
Adequate airflow Helps oilbased paint to dry properly, ensuring that the paint stays its true color for longer.
Proper respirator mask Protects the painter from inhaling any harmful fumes
Extended drying time Prevents yellowing and discoloration caused by rushing the drying process

By prioritizing proper ventilation when using oilbased paints, you’ll be able to achieve a more professional-looking finish in your projects, while also keeping yourself safe from potentially harmful fumes.

How to clean up oilbased paint and related tools

Cleaning up oil-based paint and its related tools can be a daunting task, but it is essential to do it properly to avoid any problems in the future. Here are some tips on how to clean up oil-based paint and its related tools:

  • First, you need to remove any excess paint from your brushes and other tools. You can do this by wiping them with a clean cloth or paper towel.
  • Next, use an appropriate solvent to clean your brushes and other tools. Mineral spirits are commonly used for cleaning oil-based paints. Pour a small amount into a container and dip your brush or tool into the solution, then swirl it around to remove the paint. Repeat as necessary until the tool is clean.
  • After cleaning the tools, rinse them with water to remove any traces of the solvent.

It is important to note that you should never dump solvent down the drain. Instead, follow the instructions on the label and dispose of it properly. Most local waste management facilities have specific guidelines for disposing of solvents.

Here is a table summarizing the cleaning process for different types of oil-based paint and tools:

Type of paint/tool Recommended solvent Cleaning process
Brushes Mineral spirits Remove excess paint, dip into solvent, swirl, rinse with water
Rollers Mineral spirits Rinse with water, place in bucket of solvent, work roller up and down, remove and rinse with water
Sprayer Lacquer thinner Flush with solvent, then with water

By following these tips on how to clean up oil-based paint and related tools, you can ensure that your paint lasts longer and your tools stay in good condition for future projects.

Common causes of yellowing in oilbased paint

Oil-based paint is known for its durability and smooth finish, but it can suffer from yellowing over time. Here are some of the most common causes:

  • Aging: Over time, oil-based paint can oxidize and become discolored, resulting in a yellowish hue. This is especially common in areas with high levels of sunlight or heat.
  • Solvents: Using solvents with oil-based paint can cause yellowing. Solvents like acetone, alcohol, or even some cleaning agents can interact with the paint and cause discoloration.
  • Humidity: High humidity can cause the paint to absorb moisture, which can cause it to yellow over time. This is especially true in areas like bathrooms or kitchens.

Beware of using certain pigments

Certain pigments may also contribute to yellowing over time. For instance, lead-based pigments are known to yellow paint, so it is best to avoid their use entirely. Similarly, using organic pigments with low lightfastness ratings (meaning they are prone to fading or yellowing in sunlight) can lead to yellowing over time.

Preventing yellowing in oilbased paint

There are several things you can do to prevent yellowing in oil-based paint:

First, choose a high-quality paint that is specifically formulated to resist yellowing. Look for labels that specifically advertise no-yellowing, non-fading, or similar.

Second, avoid using strong solvents and cleaners on the painted surface. If you must clean the surface, use a mild non-abrasive cleaner specifically designed for painted surfaces.

Third, monitor the humidity levels in the room and consider using a dehumidifier if necessary. This will help prevent moisture absorption and minimize yellowing.

Finally, avoid using pigments that are known to cause yellowing over time. Consult with a paint expert if you are unsure about which pigments to use for your specific project.

Pigment Type Can cause yellowing?
Lead-based Yes, avoid entirely
Organic pigments with low lightfastness ratings Yes, use with caution
Iron oxide pigments No
Titanium dioxide pigments No

By being mindful of these common causes and taking proactive steps to prevent yellowing, you can help ensure that your oil-based paint retains its original color and finish for years to come.

Tips for Storing Oilbased Paint to Prevent Yellowing

Storing oilbased paint properly is crucial in preventing yellowing and prolonging its lifespan. Here are some tips:

  • Temperature control: Oilbased paint should be stored in a cool, dry place with temperatures ranging from 60–80°F. Extreme temperature changes can cause pigment color to change, lead to skinning, or affect the paint’s consistency.
  • Airtight containers: Air is a major contributor to yellowing and drying out paint. Using airtight containers can drastically reduce the amount of air that interacts with the paint. Make sure to remove any excess air before sealing the lid.
  • Organize by color: Grouping paint by hue and labeling them accordingly saves time and eliminates the need to sort through every can to find the desired color.

Aside from temperature, air, and organization, there are other ways to store oilbased paint properly.

If you need to store oilbased paint for longer periods, you can add a layer of cling film to the surface to prevent air exposure. This works best if you use glass jars as the material is less porous than plastic.

Another way to extend paint life is to store the can upside down, which creates an airtight seal and prevents air from entering the container. Make sure to clean the rim of the lid before resealing and turning it over again.

Do’s Dont’s
Store cans upside down Store paint near heat sources (furnaces, radiators)
Add a layer of cling film Store cans on their sides
Organize cans by color Store cans in direct sunlight or poorly lit areas
Store in a cool, dry place Leave paint cans open

By following proper storage techniques, you can prevent yellowing and prolong the life of your oilbased paint. Avoid shortcuts and take the time to store your paint carefully to achieve the best results. By doing this, you won’t need to replace your paint as often, which can save you time and money in the long run.

FAQs: How do you keep oilbased paint from turning yellow?

1. What causes oilbased paint to turn yellow?

Oilbased paint turns yellow over time due to exposure to natural and artificial light, heat, and humidity.

2. Can using a topcoat help prevent oilbased paint from turning yellow?

Yes, applying a clear topcoat can help prevent oilbased paint from turning yellow by providing a protective layer.

3. What type of topcoat should I use?

Use a high-quality clear varnish, lacquer, or polyurethane topcoat that is specifically formulated for oilbased paint.

4. Should I use a specific type of brush or roller for oilbased paint?

Yes, choose brushes and rollers that are specifically designed for oilbased paint to ensure even application and to prevent yellowing.

5. How can I reduce the risk of yellowing in oilbased paint?

Reduce the risk of yellowing by using high-quality oilbased paint, minimizing exposure to light, heat, and humidity, and applying a clear topcoat.

6. Can I remove yellowing from oilbased paint?

No, once oilbased paint has turned yellow, it cannot be restored to its original color.

7. Can I use oilbased paint in areas with high UV exposure?

Limit the use of oilbased paint in areas with high UV exposure, as this can accelerate yellowing. Choose waterbased or acrylic paint for these areas.

Closing thoughts

Now that you have a better understanding of how to keep oilbased paint from turning yellow, you can achieve a long-lasting, beautiful finish for your project. Remember to use high-quality paint, reduce exposure to light and heat, and apply a clear topcoat. Thank you for reading, and be sure to check back for more helpful tips and tricks.