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Is Your Enamel Paint Yellowing? Here’s the (City) Scoop

Did you know that some paints can yellow over time due to a lack of sunlight?  

“Yellowing” is a common trail of alkyd (oil-based) enamels, most noticeable with older pale or white paint colors. This is due to the presence of chromophores (color chemicals) that are formed during the enamel paint's drying process.

Chromophores are light-sensitive and are bleached out of the paint film when exposed to daylight. However, in areas that don’t receive natural light (basements, cabinet interiors, pocket doors, etc.), what started as Decorators White may turn into a French Vanilla!

What can you do if you have yellowed enamel? It depends on the substrate. Pocket doors for example, can simply be closed so they are exposed to daylight. The amount of daylight they are exposed to will determine how yellowed the paint becomes over time. If you have yellowed enamel in an area like a basement, the only solution is to re-enamel with a non-yellowing, water-based enamel - or install windows.

At Cityscape Painting, we have used alkyd enamels since we started.  Nothing gives you a smoother finish than a traditional oil-based enamel. Until recently, it was very difficult to get a smooth and durable finish without using oil-based enamel. That being said, many paint manufacturers have made huge advances in water-based technology that now offer us similar performance characteristics as traditional oils. One of our new favorites is Sherwin Williams Emerald Urethane.

While many of our projects are spec’d by designers or architects, we regularly try to discuss the features and benefits of the products we use with our clients so they can make an informed decision.  Hopefully we can help you on your next painting project!


If you have any questions about choosing or caring for your paint, Cityscape Painting would love to help. Call us for a free estimate today at (952) 469-5901.

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