Water-Based Enamel Nippon Paint

Nippon Paint seems to be blazing the trail, as far as the local decorative paint market is concerned. They introduced anti-bacterial with their Medifresh, low odor with their 3-in-1 Odour-less and Teflon-free in their EasyWash, all in recent years. Now, they’ve done it again with Aqua Bodelac, water-based enamel Nippon paint for wood and metal.

Water-based enamel paint is not a new technology. In fact, it has been around for many years. Most major brands of decorative household paint overseas have this in their range of products. Different story here in Singapore. We are like a third world country when it comes to the types of paint available here. And it’s not confined to paints. I’ve mentioned in earlier posts that the range of DIY tools here is also very limited.

Personally, I’m a skeptic when it comes to water-based enamels. Maybe its got to do with less than desirable projects in the past with water-based varnish and water-based polyurethanes. Water-based antifoulings, too, fall short of expectation. So it was with some relish when given a can of Aqua Bodelac to try, harboring sub-conscious desire to “prove it doesn’t work”.

The trial was done on several pieces of unpainted metal plates and some ornaments made from cardboard and clothespins. I wanted to find out how the Aqua Bodelac compares with the solvent-based version of Bodelac specifically on the following factors, which are important to most painters :

  1. Drying time
  2. Smell
  3. Flow
  4. Opacity
  5. Gloss level
  6. Price
  1. The Aqua Bodelac was touch-dry within 20 minutes while the solvent-based Bodelac was still tacky after 2 hours.
  2. Aqua Bodelac was almost odorless while the solvent-based version has its usual strong thinner smell. When you make hat pin decorations, this paint is an excellent solution.
  3. Aqua Bodelac was very viscous and not easy to brush on. Thinning was necessary. The flow for the solvent-based enamel was good without thinning.
  4. The opacity for the water-based was much better. This is important to many. High opacity reduces the number of coats required to cover dirt or to overcoat dark-colored substrate. The higher opacity is quite obvious from the colorful crafts shown on this page. The black marker lines were deliberately drawn to differentiate their ‘covering’ ability. Both panels were painted with just 1 coat. The marker lines can be seen through the one painted with the solvent-based Bodelac).
  5. The glossy for Aqua was good but distinctly inferior to the solvent-based version.
  6. The current retail price for Aqua Bodelac is $18.40 while the solvent-based version is $14.50 – a $4.00 different.


Durability is one factor not tested here. Other than that, the water-based version seems to measure up in factors important to us. The fact that it is much easier to clean up is also a “super plus” point to consider. This is also the right direction to go as we convert more to ‘greener’ products. The surprisingly higher opacity and the fast drying time is enough to convince many to switch, despite the higher price. Also interesting is this article that describes how to make a letter holder out of window shutters.

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