4 Tips to Picking the Perfect Paint

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A fresh coat of paint is the quickest and easiest way to transform a home. However, selecting paint goes beyond choosing the perfect color.

The right paint will produce fast, even, durable coverage and ensure walls and trim are protected from humidity, fading and dirt. With so many options offered by stores and manufactures, choosing the best paint for a project can be overwhelming.

Here are a few tips to help with selecting the correct paint for any interior room.

Buy Quality

Top quality paints cover well, lower application time and perform better over long periods.

“If you choose the cheapest version, it’s probably not a great product. You need to have something that hides well,” says Nick May, owner, Walls by Design, Littleton, Co.

“The more expensive the paint, the better the hide. Manufacturers all have an option for an upper end vs. a middle vs. a lower end. If you’re not spending at least $35 on a gallon of paint, you’re spending too little.”

Go with Low VOC

Many paints have high levels of volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) which reduce drying time. These compounds emit chemicals that are a contributor to ground-level ozone pollution and may result in irritation to eyes and the respiratory system.

“You want environmentally friendly products,” says Andres Matheu, owner, Homm Certified Painting Systems, Alexandria, Va.. “Paint has chemicals that evaporate when the paint cures. They get expelled, and you breathe them. If you have allergies, go with no-VOC or low-VOC paint.”

Consider the Surface

Has the existing surface been painted before? If not, a primer is likely needed.

“If it’s raw wood or raw drywall, it needs a primer, or if the surface has something that can bleed through. Crayon and marker can bleed through. Use a bonding primer, something for the paint to grab on to,” says May.

While some manufacturers offer a primer and paint combination, this product may not be the best choice.

“In my opinion, the primer-in-one is more for better coverage. It does not mean you can get away without a primer on a bare surface,” says Matheu.

The type of surface to be painted, and the environment, will determine the best kind of paint to be used. The most common types of interior paint are water-based (latex) and oil-based (alkyd or enamel).

Water-based, latex paint can be used almost anywhere in a home. This versatile paint cleans well with soap and water, dries quickly, has little odor, and is non-flammable.

An oil-based paint is better used for areas that may rust or stain, or for high-traffic, frequently touched areas.

“Oil-based paints are for doors, trim, edges. Metal surfaces work best with oil-based paint. It’s a harder paint. It will be very shiny, but it will last longer,” says Matheu.

Select a  Sheen

Sheen is the level of shine a surface has once the paint dries. The most common sheens are flat/matte, eggshell, satin, semi gloss and gloss.

Flat and eggshell paints have the lowest sheen and are most forgiving when used on surfaces with imperfections.

“Flat paint is designed not to reflect light. The more deflection, the more imperfections you’ll see. Most people will keep flat paint on a ceiling. We recommend that,” says May.

When used on walls, flat paint creates a calming atmosphere.

“The less sheen you have makes for a more comfortable space,” May says. “For areas where there are children, I want to have at least something more than flat. An eggshell will give people plenty of durability for normal wiping.”

Semi-gloss paints are best used for areas of high humidity or that need frequent cleaning, such as bathrooms and kitchens, while gloss paints highlight and protect trim, molding and doors.

With so many choices, learn the benefits of each and determine the right paint for your job.

Tags: painting, tips