The word “latex” originally denoted to the use of rubber in one form or another as the resin, or solid, in paint. The solvent or thinner, called the “vehicle,” was water. Today, many paints are made with water as the thinner but with resins that are not latex, and the industry is leaning toward such terms as “water-thinned” or “water-reducible.” If the paints are called latex at all, the term often used is “acrylic latex” because they cover a plastic resin made of acrylics or polyvinyls rather than rubber.

Moreover, the speed of drying, new opacity and washability of acrylic latex paints, the greatest advantage of water-thinned paints is you can clean up with water. The higher expense — as well as the potential fire hazard — of volatile thinners and brush cleaners is gone. If you wash the brush or roller directly after the painting session is over, it comes clean in just a few minutes.