Pros and Cons of Oil-Based Paint-Fill

Adding color to sandcarved items with oil-based paint comes with both advantages and disadvantages.

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  • Completely opaque. 
  • Normally a one-coat application.
  • Self-leveling for ease of use for bigger etched areas.
  • Dries to a hard shellac within 24 hours, making it durable. There is no need to bake the enamel to harden like most water-based enamel. 
  • Ultraviolet resistant. It won’t fade or discolor over time.
  • Stains absorb or fill into the small pores you created after blasting. You won’t get breaking, flaking, or big color contrast differences.
  • Easy to remove the mask by soaking in hot water. You can also use denatured alcohol, Windex, or IPA to help remove the mask or paint residue.
  • Mask can be peeled off within one hour when paint is at a rubbery stage. Worst-case scenario: the paint smears in some areas, which can be easily removed with a rag dabbed in isopropyl alcohol (IPA).
  • Can easily be darkened with Tint Black or lightened up with Tint White. Gloss and matte are also available additives.
  • Can be diluted with low-temperature reducer, which acts as a drying accelerator.
  • Can be found at any craft store like Pearls or Michaels or automotive outlets.
  • Can be diluted for spraying in an air brush or air pen. The rule of thumb is that it should be the consistency of skim milk. Typically, this is a one- to four-part mix.
  • If your etch is slightly uneven, this will even out and no flaking occurs. 
  • Easy to cover up mistakes with opaque finish.
  • Easy to do multiple colors. Lighter color paints can be applied over darker paints without any bleeding.
  • When taking the mask off with razor blade, Windex can be applied onto the mask to protect the blade from scratching the glass by mistake. 


  • Takes 24 hours to dry to a shellac.
  • Requires clean-up for brushes, which can leave stains on the table and requires mineral spirits to remove. Soap and water will not work.
  • When spraying these paints, you need to be cautious of the mist. A respirator may be needed if your ventilation is not adequate.
  • Not transparent if that is what you are looking for.
  • Cannot use a heat gun to speed up the drying time. This affects the adhesion properties.
  • Cannot be found at any home improvement stores like Home Depot. They do not use oil-based paint in homes any longer due to materials not being porous like plaster, wood, etc.
  • The tips/nozzles need to be cleaned daily with acetone, turpentine, or spirits.
  • Paint should be stored in a metal or glass container.

-Darin Jones, IKONICS Imaging

Bonus read – Color-Fill Considerations: 5 points for painters

Darin Jones

Darin Jones is a Technical Training Sales Specialist with IKONICS Imaging.

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