A can of paint can completely change the look of a room, and it won't cost you an arm and a leg. But what sort of paint gives you the most for your money? With so many brands and kinds of house paint on the market today, it can be confusing to know where to begin when choosing paint for a new project. Although almost everyone paints from time to time but how many of us truly know what we're buying and applying?
Paint is a blend of four basic ingredients: pigments, resins, solvents, and additives. Pigment is the color, and resin is the binder, or glue. Solvent is the carrier that makes everything liquid and evaporates as the paint dries. Additives give specific performance characteristics, for example stain-blocking or mold-killing properties.
The majority of wall paint sold today is water-based, but oil-based paint remains popular for glossy woodwork, doors, and furniture, and also demanding surfaces such as floors.
Advantages of Water-based paints:
- Low VOCs (low levels of toxic discharges)
- Easy cleanup with water
- Quick drying
- An elastic, flexible finish resistant to cracking
- Stable color over time, without yellowing
For those instances when an oil-based paint would traditionally be ideal, but you desire a water-based product, a number of companies have introduced "waterborne enamels" or "waterborne alkyds." These paints look and act much like oil-based options because they have good leveling qualities for a smooth finish.
Advantages of Oil-based paints:
- Attractive gloss
- Good "leveling" (brush strokes fill themselves in to create a smooth finish)
- Hard, durable finish
Alkyd paint is not commonly utilized in home painting applications. At one time, these paints were the standard for bathrooms and other "wet" areas, since they were easy to scrub, had a higher sheen and were more durable than the early latex paints. That is no longer true, however, as many latex paints now equivalent and sometimes outperform alkyd paints.
When utilized in the home, alkyd paints are most commonly held for areas subject to heavy wear or prone to impact. These include trim, floors and sometimes cabinets.
Advantages of Alkyd paints:
- It has a longer drying time than latex paint
- It does not show brush strokes as much
- Painting trim, woodwork, and cabinetry is easy and effective
Another consideration in choosing the proper paint is a factor called paint sheen. Paint sheen refers to how shiny the dried paint surface becomes when dry. There are four basic sheens:
Flat have the least amount of sheen. The advantages of this are that the paint hides imperfections well and the painted surface creates very little glare. The disadvantage is that is not very washable. If you rub the surface with a damp sponge, the paint may fall off on the sponge. For all of these reasons, flat paint normally is utilized only on the ceilings in homes.
Advantages of Flat paints
- It is the minimum reflective sheen available.
- It has a smooth texture.
- It helps to hide imperfections in walls and ceilings.
- It offers great depth of color.
- It is generally considered the standard sheen for walls.
- It can sometimes be hard to clean.
Eggshell has a moderate amount of sheen so it hides imperfections somewhat and creates relatively little glare. It's also fairly washable. These characteristics make it the standard choice for all walls in living areas, that is, everywhere except kitchens and washrooms.
Satin is similar to eggshell and is sometimes a half-step up in glossiness. Some manufacturers offer satin in place of eggshell; others offer both.
Advantages of Eggshell & Satin paints:
- They have some reflectivity
- They offer enhanced durability
- They are frequently utilized in demanding environments, like kitchens and bathrooms, where easy cleanup without a highly glossy finish is looked-for.
Semi-gloss is utilized in kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms and similar areas that need the high wash ability and moisture-resistance of a glossier paint. It’s okay to use eggshell or satin in these areas, too, provided the surfaces remain dry, but semi-gloss is a better all-around option.
Gloss is utilized on trim, doors and cabinets because it's tough and extremely washable. It also reflects a lot of light, which makes these small but detailed elements pop with color.
Advantages of Semi-gloss & Gloss paints:
- They are the most reflective sheens
- They are highly durable and stand up to numerous cleanings
- They are traditionally used on baseboards, moldings, and doors
- They can make a statement, but also highlight imperfection
Paint is the easiest and most effective way to make a noteworthy improvement in your home. The key to a great paint job comes in the prep. Take time to patch, clean and dust all paint surfaces before you start. Also, be sure to let each coat completely dry before applying the next coat.