In the more than 32,000 years since humans first started painting their home (cave) interiors, paint has come a long way. From a primitive mixture of charcoal, clay, and vegetable or animal products paint has become a complex mixture of pigments and resins that won't simply wash away. Today, paint may be the most DIY- and wallet-friendly home improvement possible. It's also one of the most overwhelming, given all the possible choices. Here are the basic facts you need to pick out the interior paint you want for your home.
Oil or Water-based Paint
The first thing you may want to consider, beyond color, is the type or formula you wish to use. Forget the typical rule against painting oil over water-based paints. Indoors, they can be used almost interchangeably. Check the paint manufacturer's instructions; some manufacturers say to use a primer before painting with water-based over oil-based paints. Choose the formula you wish depending on each paint's typical qualities.
Water-based Paint: Around 80 percent of all paint used on the home today is water-based paint, also referred to as latex. There's several reasons why it's so popular. First, Water-based paint dries fast and today's formulas wear as well as or better than oil-based paints. Water-based paints are also lower in odor than oil-based paints, so they are better for the environment. Finally, they are easy to clean up: simply use soap and water.
Oil-based Paint: Sometimes called alkyd or solvent-based, oil-based paints have one major drawback -- they contain higher levels of VOCs than water-based paints. Lower VOCs also mean water-based (latex) paints are better for the environment too. Cleanup after using an alkyd paint is also messier, requiring the use of solvents (like paint thinner). Oil-based paints do have strengths. Primarily, they dry much slower than latex paints, which means the paint has time to level out and smooth the brush strokes.
Finishes (Gloss Level)
Before choosing your paint colors, think about what features you may wish to accent in the room in addition to the room's purpose. With these things in mind, consider the finish desired, sometimes referred to as the gloss level.
Semigloss or gloss finishes: Easy to wash, gloss paints nonetheless call attention to the paint job or the wall itself -- including any imperfections. Choose glossy finishes for kitchens and bathrooms as well as trimwork or accent pieces.
Flat: A flat finish dulls the light, better hiding flaws in the wall or ceiling material or the paint job. Choose it for ceilings or anywhere else these properties are desirable, as well as in low-traffic areas, like the master bedroom or formal parlor, where dirt and contaminants are less common.
Eggshell, satin or low-luster finishes: Easier to wash than flat paint but better at hiding imperfections than gloss, these finishes work well in high-traffic areas such as bathrooms, bedrooms and hallways.
About Quality and Price
Everyone likes a bargain. When it comes to buying paint, the bargain unfortunately isn't always such a bargain. Higher-quality paints usually work better and contain better quality ingredients, driving up the price. They also yellow less as they age, smooth on better and are easier to work with in comparison to most cheaper paints.
Armed with this knowledge, you'll be better prepared when you stop at a paint store such as Paints & Papers to pick out your home's next color and finish.