Paint 101

Different paint types exist for different applications. Professional painting contractors can recommend the best paint for the surface and location of the paint job.

Color. Color scheme is an important and personal choice. Various color schemes create different atmospheres and often say much about the owner. To choose the right color scheme for you, view color samples at home whenever possible. Because home lighting is almost always different than paint store lighting, the sample you loved in the store can appear dramatically different when viewed at home. Some contractors also have color consultants on staff to help the homeowner decide which color combinations create the best effect and suit his or her taste.

Water-based vs. oil-based. Water-based paints are commonly referred to as latex paints. Historically, water-based paints were viewed to be less durable than oil-based paints. With recent advances in paint technology, there is currently little difference between the two in terms of longevity and finished appearance. Oil-based paints remain far more hazardous than water-based paints, but for some applications, an oil-based paint is favored. A good, experienced painter will be able to determine which type of paint is best suited to your particular job.

Finishes. Paint is available in a variety of finishes ranging from flat to glossy. Glossy paints are more durable than flat paints, but they show flaws in the surface more easily than flat paints. The high shine, or sheen, of glossy paint is ideal for areas that must be cleaned often, such as bathrooms and kitchens. The dull finish of a flat paint makes it appropriate for ceilings and walls in other living areas, and flat paint also touches up more easily.

Quality. Good-quality paint usually covers between 350 and 400 square feet per gallon. Cheap paint often requires more than two coats and more labor to get the same coverage as more expensive paint. Thus, painting jobs using them can often cost more in the end than a job using paint of a better quality to begin with.

Stores devoted to selling paint can of course offer exceptional paint at fairly high cost, but even the mid-grade paint at a speciality paint store is often an excellent choice. For homeowners seeking additional information about their painting option, these smaller stores usually offer a knowledgeable staff that can spend time helping the customer select a good paint.