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Written by Tom Xavier
It’s that time of year when you’re ready for a new look in the house. I’ve found that one of the most cost-effective ways to add new life to a room or two is with paint. You could paint a wall, the cupboards, or an entire room. However, choosing the right paint for the right area can be a real chore.
Despite the hundreds of paint cans lining the wall at your home improvement store, there are essentially two kinds of paint: Oil-based and water-based. But you will find primers, enamels, acrylics, and many others on the shelves, too. Here’s a handy how-to guide when it comes to paint.
Consider Your Options
When you’re ready to buy your paint, there are two things to consider: how much wear and tear will the surface get and will a sheen or gloss finish conflict with your decorating scheme? If you are painting a storage room or other area, which will be subjected to hard use and frequent washings, go with the highest gloss you can as these paints are designed for just that. If the “feel” of the room is important— such as a living room or bedroom, choose the lower gloss finishes for a calm, soothing ambiance.
As stated before, there are two types of paints used today: Latex and Alkyd. Alkyd paint is also known as oil-based paint. Latex (water-based) provides an excellent finish, while being an easier paint to use. Latex paint cleans up with soap and water, dries quickly, has less odor, is non-flammable, easy to touch up, and these paints remain more flexible and allow moisture to evaporate through the film, thus reducing blistering, cracking, and peeling. Inexpensive latex paints use softer vinyl resins (binders) and more water in the formulation while the more durable of the latex paints use 100 percent acrylic resins and less water (you only get what you pay for).
What Type of Paint Should You Use?
Flat Paints exhibit non-reflective properties providing a matte finish. This finish helps hide surface imperfections, and is normally used for ceilings and walls in areas not subjected to a lot of wear and tear, dining rooms, living rooms, and bedrooms not used by small children.
Satin Finish, also know as eggshell finish, provides a soft luster sheen similar to that of an eggshell. A satin finish provides a harder surface finish which is more durable and more stain-resistant than a flat finish. This durability makes satin paint a good choice for walls in children’s rooms, hallways, stairways, and family rooms.
Semi-gloss Paints are very durable. They are easier to clean, and are more stain-resistant than satin finish paints. Semi-gloss paints are most often used on heavy-wear surfaces or areas that are frequently cleaned such as kitchens and bathrooms. Semi-gloss paint is also used on wood trim and cabinets.
Gloss Paint is a harder, more durable, more stain-resistant paint finish. It is easier to clean than all the other paint finishes. Gloss finishes generally make surface imperfections more noticeable. Gloss finishes are the best choice for heavy wear areas like kitchens, bathrooms, furniture and cabinets, floors, stairs, handrails, high-traffic doors, and trim.
Should You Use a Primer or Sealer?
Primers seal the surface off and provide a “tooth” for the finish paint. They are used on bare wood and metal, previously painted surfaces that have been repaired or are in poor condition (flaking, peeling), or if the existing surface is to be painted with a new color that is much darker or lighter than the existing. Primers/sealers are also used to block out stains like water stains, crayon, smoke, soot, ink, and on woods that will bleed through a paint coating, e.g., cedar or redwood.
I know what you are thinking. This seems like a lot to consider when all you wanted to do was change the look of a room. Just take it one step at a time. Once you’ve figured out the best paint for the job, then comes the fun part: picking out the color! Have fun!
Article appeared in our 27-6 Issue - February 2011