I'm looking for a type of paint that I can use on a small children's desk. The desk is a simple round design with 4 legs. I would like to use a paint that can take a beating. I was thinking of using outdoor paint, like for a house. Is latex based a good choice?

Note: I have to use paint rather than a "clear" finish because the recipients want a certain color. Also, I'm using an MDF core plywood so I need something that will cover the edges nicely.

  • Are you looking to apply it with a brush or spray?
    – Steven
    Commented Dec 7, 2015 at 15:25
  • I would prefer brush but I would be willing to do either.
    – Programmer
    Commented Dec 7, 2015 at 15:27
  • "Should it be latex based?" calls for opinion-based answers which we try to discourage here so I've edited the wording somewhat.
    – Graphus
    Commented Dec 7, 2015 at 18:56

3 Answers 3


I was thinking of using outdoor paint, like for a house. Is latex based a good choice?

Yes but you'd probably get better results from a dedicated indoor paint.

While paint for outdoor applications seems like it would be toughest much of it is actually formulated to provide flexibility (to deal with the substrate expanding and contracting due to temperature swings and moisture changes) and permeability (to allow the substrate to dry effectively after rain).

On the other hand, indoor paints can be made harder/tougher because they emphasise scratch-resistance and don't need to factor in the exposure to water and wide swings of temperature an exterior application calls for.

So if you're after maximum durability I would recommend you go with an interior paint specifically formulated for interior trim and/or furniture.

Unfortunately the specific product names used across the industry can be very unhelpful here (latex paint being the classic example, since it contains no latex at all!) but if you can find it locally I would recommend an acrylic enamel.

Your local paint supplier may be able to help you with a similar product if they don't stock something named exactly that.


If you are willing to spray a finish, I think the go to would be lacquer. This will provide a hard and durable finish that is frequently used on furniture, cabinets, etc.

Paint is always an option though will probably not provide as durable of a finish as lacquer. As for latex or oil, it is really up to you based on what you're comfortable working with. They both have their pros and cons. Latex is definitely easier to clean up and in terms of child friendliness, will put off less VOC's than oil paint will.

For added durability you could apply a clear layer of varnish or shellac on top of the paint.

  • Unfortunately I need to use paint for this project. I'm leaning more and more towards latex paint.
    – Programmer
    Commented Dec 7, 2015 at 15:42
  • @Hooplehead24, Latex paint, interior or exterior, is very soft (made of latex), and doesn't stand up to scratches very well at all. It's probably the worst paint choice for furniture needing to be durable.
    – JPhi1618
    Commented Dec 7, 2015 at 15:53
  • @JPhi1618 Do you think it would be feasible to put a clear coat of lacquer over the paint?
    – Programmer
    Commented Dec 7, 2015 at 16:01
  • Why even use paint if that is the case? Just use lacquer.
    – Steven
    Commented Dec 7, 2015 at 16:03
  • 1
    Agree with Steven, but as a direct answer to your question, the lacquer wouldn't want to bind to the latex, and even if it did you'd have cracking because of a hard material over a soft base. Oil based pant isn't that hard to work with other than the cleanup, and provides a good, hard finish in any color that you want. It actually is easier to brush in some cases (easier than latex). There's no smell after the paint is dry.
    – JPhi1618
    Commented Dec 7, 2015 at 16:07

I think what you are looking for is a lacquer based spray paint. It should be tough and give give you the color you need. It will dry much faster than enamel.

Lacquered chair

Example of colored Lacquer

Also Pinterest shows all of the great colors that can be achieved with a hard glossy finish. Lacquered Furniture on Pinterest

Don't use latex because it will not be very durable.

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