Waterbased oil enamel review | Advance by Benjamin Moore Paint vs Proclassic by Sherwin Williams



2011 was the year the water borne oil finish enamel finally arrived as a true replacement for traditional oil enamel for trim and cabinets. Environmental regulation and consumer demand has slowly pushed out oil base paints and replaced them with water-base equivalent; this trend as been building slowly over the last ten years. The early attempts by paint manufacturers to create quality water borne enamels was less than successful as those products were not easy to apply nor was the finished product durable as customers expected from “enamel” paints. The primary challenge manufacturers had to overcome was to develop a water borne enamel that was also durable and low VOC.

2014 Update see Benjamin Moore Advance on this project page

Historically the term “enamel” paint specifically meant a durable gloss oil based protective finish. Now “enamel” is used to describe any coating designed as a durable finish. If you search the internet for “matte” or “flat” enamel you will find many different paint products labeled as such, although the term “matte enamel” is an oxymoron taken in its original meaning and intent.

The two primary water clean-up, oil finish enamel paints available on the Market are:
1. Benjamin Moore Advanced
2. Sherwin Williams Proclassic

In 2011 we extensively used both products on our house painting projects. Here is our review.

Both products are viable alternatives to oil base enamels.

Colorants Advanced supports the GENNEX waterborne colorant system providing VOC-free colorants. Advance is a true alkyd, not a hybrid. Advanced has less than 50 VOC per liter. Pro-classic is also less than 50 grams VOC per liter, but uses the standard glycol based universal colorant system which can add significant VOC for darker colors.

Hardness Advanced and Proclassic are nearly as hard after cure than oil based enamels. In our experience, Advanced cures harder than Proclassic. Both paints should be allowed to cure for a week to judge final finish. Best practice for heavy use should be a one month cure.

Application Both paints have a learning curve as they have different characteristics than virtually any other paints. The paints are very thin and need to be applied in multiple coats. If sprayed the paint should not be reduced with water or any extenders.


See our picture from our Advanced Paint Viscosity Test

Read Jack Pauhl’s review for water based enamels.

August 31, 2014 Update: Below is an image from Houzz the doors are painted with Fine Paints of Europe Eco a waterbased alykd modified enamel


Fine Paints of Europe ECO

Fine Paints of Europe ECO; water reduced alkyd paint.
House painting with Fine Paints of Europe ECO
Water Reduced Alkyd
Exterior Fine Paints of Europe

Cloverdale Paint waterbased enamel

1 Comment
  1. johnshearer 4 years ago

     Joel Woodard thanks for the PM Joel. Sorry for the delay in responding. I take your comments very seriously; especially that you were encouraged to use Aura after reading this review. Here is an excerpt:
     I’ve contacted Ben Moore twice concerning this but am not yet satisfied with their answers. So if you have time to reply, I’d like to talk to you about BM Advance. I’ve seen your video review of it and the comparison to pro classic wb alkyd. Those were very good reviews and encouraged me to give the paint a try. I still have some questions though, concerning the dried paint film. When researching the advance paint I was drawn in by how everyone agreed on the hardness of it after after drying a week or so. In my experience, after 3 weeks of drying in a climate controlled area, the dried film is not nearly as hard as I had hoped. I can stick my thumbnail in it without too much effort. It is a bit soft. Don’t get me wrong, the adhesion is decent, but if I wanted to chip it off with my thumbnail I could. It even has a bit of that tacky feel like a typical acrylic enamel, which is what we all want to get away from. The color is yellow (#2 base). Advance primer was used to prime the plywood sample. I also tried a latex primer under the advance. Both systems produce the same topcoat adhesion/durability results. Also, I followed all instructions for prep, application, recoat times, etc. I’ve talked to ben moore concerning this on 2 occasions. The first time they said allow 1 to 2 weeks for full cure, the second time they said up to 30 days for full cure, and the data sheet says advance’s full hardness will develop ‘over time’.  
    Joel, I will be updating the  review. The spirit of the review is “the new state of waterbourne enamels”…so a more adequate lead would have been the new enamels versus the poor water enamels of the past 10 years. Advanced is much harder than Satin Impervo waterbase; but still cannot compare for hardness to traditional oil base finish such as
    Satin Impervo oil 
    Dulamel oil  
    Effecto oil 

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