Best Paint (House)

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PaintEveryone needs to paint their house from time to time, giving their home a fresh, clean look and protecting the home's materials from weather damage. A proper paint job is not only aesthetically pleasing, but an important part of a home's maintenance. Therefore, it's worth taking the time to do it right.

The right paint can make a huge difference. Not all paints are created equal, either in quality or in purpose. When picking paint, you need to make sure it is not only of a high quality, but that it will work well with the substrate you've chosen. A poor choice in this regard will mean paint will peel off the home, long before you should be expecting any problems.

However, picking the right paint can be tricky at best. Most people depend on the guy in the paint department to tell them what they need; however, you're better off having a good idea of what will work best for your situation, long before talking to him. Check out our buyer's guide for paints and learn the things you need to know in order to pick out the right paint for your paint job.

Best Interior Paint:

Most people dont realize it, but interior and exterior paints are actually different. The major difference between the two is that exterior paint has UV protection (ultra-violet) so that the paint wont be discolored by the light. Therefore, when interior paints are used on the exterior of a home, they have a horrible tendency to fade.

There is also usually a difference in sheen between interior and exterior paints. The exterior of most homes is painted with a flat paint, with either a flat or semi-gloss used for the trim. On the inside of the home, satin and semi-gloss paints are used; typically with semi-gloss in the kitchen and bathrooms and satin throughout the rest of the home.

This selection of paint sheen is based more upon washability than anything else. Painted walls in homes tend to get dirty, especially with small children around. Therefore, having the ability to wash the walls and trim from time to time is important; especially in the kitchen. Interior paint sheen choices start with flat, then eggshell, then satin, and finally semi-gloss. For a home where the quality of the wall finish isnt all that good, a flat paint should be used. However, in cases where the walls are well finished, eggshell or satin are the favorite choices.

Many people think that interior paint is interior paint and it really doesn't matter what you get. There is nothing farther from the truth. Interior paints vary incredibly from one manufacturer to the next, even if they are supposedly the same thing. These differences include:

  • The amount of solids in the paint Paints with a lot of solids will cover better in one coat, provide a thicker finish and generally be more durable than low solids paints.
  • The type of material that is used for the solids Some manufacturers attempt to make a high-solids paint by adding clay for part of the solids. While this does make a high-solids paint that covers well, it is nowhere near as durable as one where the solids are latex or acrylic.
  • The amount of base pigment that is used The base pigment is the amount of pigmentation in the paint base (what you get if you order the white version of the paint, without any tint). Since it is the pigment that actually covers previous finishes and colors, a high pigmentation makes for a high chance of covering contrasting colors in one coat.

Due to these differences in formulation, the pigmentation system that each manufacturer uses is totally unique. You cant take the pigmentation system from Behr paint and use it for Valspar; the colors wont come out right. So before picking colors, you need to make sure that you pick out the brand and type of paint that you want. Otherwise, you may not be able to buy the color you picked in the paint you want.

Many people think that picking a best paint is highly subjective. While I will agree that there is some element of subjectivity to it, I've made my selections based on having been a professional painter, many years ago. The major criterion I used to make my choices were the paints ability to cover contrasting colors and the durability of the paint.

Clark + Kensington Premium Interior Eggshell Enamel

Clark + Kensington is an Ace Hardware brand, although the paint is manufactured for them by others. However, it is manufactured to their formulation, not the same as the manufacturer normally uses. This paint has been rated highly by many, including Consumer Reports. Read Full Review

Clark + Kensington Premium Interior Eggshell Enamel

Pratt & Lambert Accolade Interior Acrylic Paint

Pratt & Lambert is a personal favorite of mine, especially for custom homes. All of their products are high quality, providing a superior finish with excellent durability. Read Full Review

Pratt & Lambert Accolade Interior Acrylic Paint

Behr Premium Plus Ultra Interior Satin Enamel

Behr paint is another favorite of mine; in fact, my home is painted with it. Their paints provide superior coverage, allowing you to paint dark colors directly over white or light colors over dark ones. Read Full Review

Behr Premium Plus Ultra Interior Satin Enamel

Benjamin Moore Aura Interior Paint

Benjamin Moore has an excellent reputation for their products. Other than Behr, they are probably the best known company on this list. There's a reason for that; their products provide excellent coverage and long life. Read Full Review

Benjamin Moore Aura Interior Paint

Dunn-Edwards Everest Interior Paint

This paint is a little different, being low odor and Zero VOC. It is known for extreme scrub resistance and high adhesion. Read Full Review

Dunn-Edwards Everest Interior Paint

Best Ceiling Paint:

Theres no two ways about it, painting ceilings is one of the hardest painting jobs there is. Not only are you working overhead the whole time, which makes your arms tired, but youre climbing up and down ladders all the time. To add insult to injury, the popcorn texture has a tendency to fall off in your hair while youre painting.

When homes are built, the ceilings typically aren't painted. All that is done is to spray them with popcorn texture, which is white, and leave them. The only exception to this is kitchens and bathrooms, which dont usually have popcorn texture. Since they are textured the same way as the walls are, they are painted with the same semi-gloss enamel used on the walls.

The fact that the ceiling hasn't been painted adds to the difficultly of painting it. Typically, it absorbs more paint than walls do, because it hasn't been sealed. For this reason, it is important to use a paint that contains a primer/sealer. Otherwise, you might end up painting three or even four coats, trying to get it to cover.

People usually paint ceilings because they have become water stained, spotted by hitting them with a paint roller while painting the walls, or dirty. In any of these cases, it is important that the paint have good covering capability. In addition, it is a good idea to apply a stain killer to the ceiling before painting. That way, the spots wont just bleed through the paint, causing you to have to paint another coat on the ceiling.

Ceiling paint needs to be sprayed or applied with a long nap roller (3/4 of an inch). With a shorter roller, the paint wont hit the ceiling at all points, due to the texture. An extension handle is necessary. Ideally, you want an extension handle that is long enough to allow one hand to be at waist level, while the other hand is at shoulder level. That will reduce fatigue immensely, especially if you change positions of your hands periodically.

Cutting is a challenge as well, as a normal brushstroke cant be used. Rather, the paint has to be dabbed onto the ceiling. Normal brushing will cause the texture to come off the ceiling, as well as not apply paint in the shadow of the texture that isn't knocked off. Ideally, you cut in the ceiling and then touch up the paint at the top of the walls, making a clean cut line.

Ceiling paint is almost always flat, brilliant white, without any other tint. While it is possible to paint ceilings other colors, white is used as it makes the ceiling appear higher. The darker the paint color used on the ceiling, the lower it makes the ceiling appear.

Valspar Color Changing Ceiling Paint

This unique paint goes on light purple and then changes to white as it dries. That virtually eliminates repainting due to missed spots. Read Full Review

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    Valspar Color Changing Ceiling Paint

    Rust-Oleum Zinsser Ceiling Paint

    This product comes from the same company that makes Bulls-eye 1-2-3 primer. So if you have a ceiling that is water-stained, this is the best product to use. Read Full Review

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      Rust-Oleum Zinsser Ceiling Paint

      Benjamin Moore Waterborne Ceiling Paint

      This paint is formulated with a long open time to reduce lapping from adjacent roller passes. It provides superior hide ability for previous paint and other marks on the ceiling. Read Full Review

      Benjamin Moore Waterborne Ceiling Paint

      Sherwin-Williams Eminence High Performance Ceiling Paint

      As a paint and primer in one, this ceiling paint reduces work. It is intended to cover in one coat, in all situations, without the need for a primer coat. Read Full Review

      Sherwin-Williams Eminence High Performance Ceiling Paint

      Pratt & Lambert Pro-Hide Silver Interior Latex Ceiling Paint

      Pratt & Lambert's ceiling paint provides reduced splatter, reducing cleanup time. This product will work with all ceiling materials, including masonry and primed metal. Read Full Review

      Pratt & Lambert Pro-Hide Silver Interior Latex Ceiling Paint

      Best Trim Paint:

      Painting interior trim takes a lot more finesse than painting walls. Cutting for a wall can be done with short overlapping strokes, but trim needs to be painted with long smooth strokes. This is because the trim is usually much more visible, the part that most people pay the most attention to.

      When interior trim is painted (as opposed to being stained and varnished) it is typically painted white. The paint is either semi-gloss or high gloss, depending upon the taste of the homeowner. Between being white color and being glossy, the paint will show brush marks and any other perfection very easily. Long smooth strokes along the length of the wood provide a better looking finish, as the strokes of the brush blend in with the millwork of the trim.

      While high gloss trim paint looks better, most people use semi-gloss paint, so that the paint will do a better job of hiding any imperfections. Most of these imperfections are rather small, but can be highly visible with the white paint on them.There is a product, named “Flowtrol” which can be added to the paint to help it flow out, hiding the brushstrokes. This will help hide brushstrokes, as well as make the paint flow smoother off the brush. Flowtrol is only for use with water-based paints. A similar product, Penatrol, is used for oil-based paint.

      The other challenge when painting trim is that both edges have to be cut. Typically, the walls are painted first, then the trim. Therefore, the walls can’t be masked with tape, because the paint is fresh. Cutting of the trim must be done freehand. An angled sash brush is normally used, as this helps with control of the paint flow and provide a cleaner cut line.

      When putting up new trim that is to be painted, it is a good idea to sand the trim first, to remove the milling marks from cutting the molding. Then paint the primer and first coats of paint, before the trim is installed. That makes it so that you only have to paint the topcoat with the trim installed, saving a considerable amount of time.

      Once the trim is hung, nail holes and joints should be filled and the filler given time to dry. Painter’s Putty is better for filling nail holes and poor joints in the trim than regular wood putty or spackling. A ball of putty can be taken in the hand and rolled to make a point. This point is then put in the hole and broken off. A quick wipe over it with a finger and the hole disappears.

      Both oil-based and water-based paints can be used for painting trim, although almost all homes are now painted with only water-based paints. Due to EPA regulations, most paint manufacturers are moving totally away from oil-based paints.For these paints to work well, they need to be high solids paints with a lot of pigmentation. Low cost white paints will have very little pigmentation in them. Because of that, they don’t cover well. You can ask for extra white pigmentation to be added if the paint isn’t covering sufficiently well.

      Please note that these are all interior trim paints. Exterior trim is painted with the same sort of paint that is used for exterior wall surfaces.

      Dunn Edwards Aristowall Water Based Gloss Interior Paint

      This paint is one of the rarest animals around, a waterborne high-gloss paint. Typically, to get a high-gloss finish, you have to use oil-based paints. Dunn Edwards provides a quality finish, with that high gloss sheen and the convenience of water cleanup. Read Full Review

      Dunn Edwards Aristowall Water Based Gloss Interior Paint

      Benjamin Moore Advance Waterborne Interior Alkyd Paint

      Like the Dunn Edwards product, this paint is also a high gloss waterborne paint. I have used this product, with excellent results, for painting brightly colored baby furniture. Read Full Review

      Benjamin Moore Advance Waterborne Interior Alkyd Paint

      Pratt & Lambert Red Seal Oil Gloss Paint

      If you're more of a traditionalist, you probably want an oil-based enamel. Pratt & Lambert provides one of the best around, in a wide range of colors, for your trim and other needs. Read Full Review

      Pratt & Lambert Red Seal Oil Gloss Paint

      Behr Premium Plus Ultra Interior Semi-Gloss Enamel

      This is the paint I've used for the trim on my own house. It provides excellent coverage and hide, with a high-build finish. After four years it still looks freshly painted. Read Full Review

      Behr Premium Plus Ultra Interior Semi-Gloss Enamel

      Valspar Signature Semi-Gloss Interior Paint

      This interior paint is a paint and primer in one; making it excellent for new construction. It is a low odor, low VOC product, with a lifetime warranty. Read Full Review

      Valspar Signature Semi-Gloss Interior Paint

      Best Exterior Paint:

      Unless your home is fully clad with aluminum or vinyl siding, including the soffits and trim, youre going to have to paint the exterior of it sometime. Even brick homes have a fair amount of painting to do, as the trim, soffits and gable ends are usually wood.

      Exterior paints are designed specifically for applying to the exterior of homes. Its main difference from interior paint is that it is UV protected (ultra-violet). This prevents the paint from dulling due to exposure to the sun, as well as preventing damage to the paint in the form of chalking. You should never use an interior paint for the exterior of a home, as it doesnt have these UV stabilizers added.

      The two most important characteristics of exterior paint are adhesion and durability. Weather can wreck havoc on paint, as well as the surfaces that the paint is trying to protect. A good paint should be able to last 15 years, if it is applied correctly.

      While paint adhesion is important, it is affected greatly by the surface preparation before painting. Actually, surface preparation is the most important part of any painting project, as a surface that is not properly prepared wont hold the paint, no matter how good a quality paint you use. A properly prepared surface should include:

      • Removal of all loose, chipping or flaking paint
      • Cleaning the surface to remove dirt, oils and spider webs
      • Caulking cracks, seams and joints

      A lot of paint cracking, as well as cracking of the wood substrate, happens when water wicks into the end grain of wood pieces. The end grain will soak up more paint than the sides of the wood will, but most people dont put more paint on the end grain. However, this is the most important area to both caulk and paint, ensuring that the surface is fully sealed from any water leaking in.

      A third important characteristic for exterior paint is hiding. Most people change their paint color when they repaint their home. If the new color is very different than the old one, a second coat may need to be applied in order to hide the old color. High quality paints are heavy-bodied and have a high pigment content, reducing the possibility of color bleed-through and making it possible to paint over very different colors with only one coat. Ultimately, this saves money, as less paint is used to complete the project.

      Generally speaking, the higher the paint costs, the better the quality. The ingredients which provide long life, adhesion and hiding are expensive ingredients. Therefore, it only makes sense that putting these ingredients into a paint product will increase the cost.

      Pratt & Lambert Accolade 100% Acrylic Exterior Paint

      Pratt & Lambert's motto is "never compromise" which shows in the quality of their products. This is their top-of-the-line paint, from a top-of-the-line company. Read Full Review

      Pratt & Lambert Accolade 100% Acrylic Exterior Paint

      Behr Premium Plus Ultra Exterior Paint

      Behr provides superior hide and coverage with all their paint products. This paint and primer combination is perfect for new construction, as well as homes that have cracking and peeling paint. Read Full Review

      Behr Premium Plus Ultra Exterior Paint

      Benjamin Moore Aura Exterior Paint

      Benjamin Moore developed this paint with a proprietary mix of resins, to provide maximum durability. As well as mildew resistant, this paint is also stain resistant, keeping a fresh paint appearance. Read Full Review

      Benjamin Moore Aura Exterior Paint

      Dunn-Edwards Evershield Exterior Paint

      This is a ultra-low VOC paint, something rare in home paint products. High gloss retention provides exceptional water beading as well as resistance to dirt. Read Full Review

      Dunn-Edwards Evershield Exterior Paint

      Sherwin-Williams Emerald Exterior Acrylic Latex Paint

      Emerald is the Sherwin-Williams brand top paint. It is formulated to provide exceptional durability form cracking, blistering and peeling. Read Full Review

      Sherwin-Williams Emerald Exterior Acrylic Latex Paint

      Best Cabinet Paint:

      At first, when one hears the term “Cabinet Paint” it’s easy to think it’s a gimmick. I mean paint is paint, right? Well, not quite. Cabinets are a special problem when it comes to painting. More than anything else in your house, cabinet will be touched by hands that can be clumsy, dirty, and always abrasive (yes ladies, even your nice soft hands that you use lotion on every day are abrasive to paint).

      Developing a paint that can stand up to the abuse that goes along with being on cabinets is a challenge to any paint manufacturer;  almost as bad as developing paint to use for school classrooms. Not only does the paint need to resist dirt and wear but chipping as well. To avoid chipping, it’s best to have the paint flexible. To resist dirt and wear, it’s best to have it hard and smooth. Having the two in one is like trying to get the Denver Broncos and the Dallas Cowboys in the same place, and have them to get along.

      In the past, most cabinet paints were oil-based enamels. Enamels are extremely hard and durable but they’re not flexible. Most enamel paints are now being replaced with acrylic latex and before long manufacturers won’t be selling oil-based paints for homeowner applications. Part of the reason for this is that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is cracking down on what are called Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs).

      The word “volatile” doesn’t mean that it catches fire quickly, rather it means said compound evaporates quickly. VOCs are just the solvents used in the manufacture of paint, mineral spirits, adhesives and other liquid industrial products. The EPA is mainly concerned about VOCs because they add to air pollution.

      Okay, so that’s a good reason to get rid of them, but what do we do for paint? Fortunately for all of us who want nice pretty cabinets, paint manufacturers have come up with a way of making high-gloss latex enamel paints. What that means is we don’t have to use oil-based paints to get our high-gloss finish on things like cabinets and trim. I’d call that great timing on the part of the manufacturers.

      The paints I’ve included in this list are a mix of both latex and oil-based paints. While I’d gladly use any of them on my own projects, it’s inevitably up to you to decide which one is best for your needs.

      Dutch Boy Cabinet & Trim Paint

      Dutch Boy’s Cabinet & Trim paint is my number one pick for its incredibly fine finish. This latex-based paint is extremely durable and stain resistant, yet doors and windows won’t stick to the dried frames. This is a great overall paint product. Read Full Review

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        Dutch Boy Cabinet & Trim Paint

        Rustoleum Cabinet Transformatoin Coating Kit

        If you’re looking for more variety, or maybe wanting to restore a wood grain look to your cabinets, take a look at Rustoleum’s 3-part system. This one gives lots of flexibility in creating the look you want, while restoring your kitchen’s luster with a durable finish. Read Full Review

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          Rustoleum Cabinet Transformatoin Coating Kit

          Insl-X Cabinet Coat Enamel

          For those hard-to-stick surfaces, try the Insl-X Cabinet Coat Enamel. This urethane acrylic paint is specially formulated for those difficult surfaces. It’s available in a variety of colors to match your kitchen’s mood. Read Full Review

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            Insl-X Cabinet Coat Enamel

            Old Village Acrylic Paint

            For those who are doing a renovation project on a historic home, nobody is going to provide you with a more historically accurate product than Old Village. This company has been providing fine paint to America since 1816. Read Full Review

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              Old Village Acrylic Paint

              Reclaim Cabinet Paint

              If you're looking for something that's easy to work with, but provides incredible results, take a look at Reclaim's Cabinet, Furniture and more Paint. This product can be applied without stripping, sanding or priming, making the job a whole lot easier. Read Full Review

              Reclaim Cabinet Paint

              Best Waterproofing Paint:

              While many people think of painting as a means of making things look good, the real reason for painting is to protect the underlying materials that we build things out of. Many of the materials we commonly use are easily damaged, especially by water.

              Take a home, for example. If that home isnt painted, the wood trim will begin to deteriorate within a couple of years. Within ten years, it will be cracked to the point where it is allowing water to get in. A few years more and serious damage can happen to the home. An identical home that is painted can last for decades or more without damage to the trim.

              What damages the wood used to build homes? Three things do; sun, wind and water. Of those three, water is by far the most damaging, especially to wood. Water soaks into wood, causing it to expand and pull away from whatever it is attached to. The same water will attack the steel in the nails that are attaching the wood to the structure, causing it to rust and weaken. Eventually, enough water can totally destroy just about anything.

              With that in mind, you can see why I say that the principal reason why we paint things is to waterproof them, not to make them look pretty. Yes, there is an aesthetic aspect to painting; I understand and agree with that. Thats not what Im talking about. All Im saying is that the underlying reason to paint, is to protect materials from water.

              All paints have to be waterproof to accomplish that. If not, the water will try to either wash the paint away or to get between the paint and the substrate, in order to separate them. If it does either, then its as if the surface had never been painted.

              Even more important than the waterproof quality of the paint itself is the manner in which the paint is applied. The best paint, applied poorly, can still be damaged by water. As long as there are areas that the water can get to, which arent covered by paint, it will seep underneath the paint and ruin it. Nowhere is this truer than with the end grain of wood boards.

              Proper sealing of end grain requires a lot of paint. As paint is applied it will wick up the grain, leaving he end essentially unpainted. This is part of the trees self-defense mechanism. Unfortunately, in trying to protect itself from one type of attack, it is setting itself up for another. To properly seal the end grain, you have to apply several coats of paint, or one good coat of caulk.

              There are certain paints which are considered waterproof paints. These are normally used specifically for protecting masonry, rather than protecting wood. While the masonry can handle being waterlogged better than the wood can, water can still soak into the masonry, separating the paint. These paints are specifically formulated to help prevent this.

              At the same time, these paints are protecting the surface from mold and mildew; which grow on damp surfaces. So, the paint isnt just providing a way of hiding things, but also of keeping them clean.

              Zinsser Watertite Waterproofing Paint

              This oil-based product has the highest resistance to water pressure of any waterproofing paint on the market. At 34 PSI of water pressure, this one is great for any underground masonry structure. Read Full Review

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                Zinsser Watertite Waterproofing Paint

                H&C Solid Color, Solvent-Based Concrete Sealer

                Another solvent-based product, this one uses a unique silicone acrylic formulation. It is primarily an exterior product, which is also highly abrasion resistant. Read Full Review

                H&C Solid Color, Solvent-Based Concrete Sealer

                Pratt & Lambert Blok-Tite Interior/Exterior Acrylic Masonry Waterproofing Paint

                Pratt & Lambert's masonry paint offers the highest water resistance of any waterborne product. At 12 PSI, this will protect any basement from water seepage. It can be mixed to any of 500 cdifferent colors. Read Full Review

                Pratt & Lambert Blok-Tite Interior/Exterior Acrylic Masonry Waterproofing Paint

                Kilz Masonry Waterproofing Paint

                Kilz is a company best known for their stain blocking primers. This waterborne paint withstands 10 PSI of water pressure. It is also tintable, like the Pratt & Lambert product. Read Full Review

                Kilz Masonry Waterproofing Paint

                Drylok Latex Base Masonry Waterproofer Paint

                The manufacturer of this product brings things down to the basis by saying it's guaranteed to stop water. I like that. They know what their product is supposed to do and stand by it. Read Full Review

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                  Drylok Latex Base Masonry Waterproofer Paint

                  Best Floor Paint:

                  While painting floors isn't all that common, there are still some cases in which people do; especially in cases where other types of floor covering would be inappropriate. Garage floors are a prime example, although they are dealt with in a separate list. The porches of homes are another common place to paint, either to protect wood from weather damage or to cover up concrete and make it look better.

                  Floors provide a special challenge for paints, in that the paint has to be highly abrasion resistant. People walking over the floor, as well as dragging furniture and other items across it can cause scuffing, scraping and chipping. In addition, it needs to have high chemical and stain resistance, because of things that might be spilled on the floor.

                  To counter these challenges, paints that are used on floors are usually extremely hard. That tends to make them brittle as well. Generally speaking, oil-based floor paints are harder and more brittle than latex based ones. That works out well, when you consider the various flooring materials that might be used. Concrete works best with an oil-based paint, as it is also hard. Wood can be a bit of a challenge though. Softer woods (not necessarily just softwoods) are going to need a more flexible latex based paint, which harder woods, like oak, will work better with an oil-based paint.

                  The best floor paints are actually epoxy paints, but those are generally reserved for painting garages, due to their high cost. If you are interested in painting a garage floor, I recommend checking out our list for Best Garage Floor Paint. Epoxy provides an excellent balance between hardness and flexibility, making it good for both wood and concrete floors.

                  Before applying any flooring paint, it is extremely important to make sure that the floor itself is clean and dry. This is more of an issue with floors than it is with other parts of a home, as floors tend to get much dirtier than walls do. Clean off any previous paint that is peeling or flaking, as well as using a good concrete cleaner to clean off any oil stains, if necessary. Even oil-based paints will have trouble sticking to an oily floor.

                  If you are painting stairs as part of painting a floor, it is common to add some texture to the paint, in order to prevent the stairs from being slippery. This can be done with glass beads, such as used for sandblasting, or sand. The texture filler can either be added to the paint, or sprinkled on it after application, while it is still wet.

                  Be sure to apply a heavy coat, without letting it puddle. Any puddles wont dry properly and could remain soft for many days after the rest of the floor is dry. This could provide disastrous results were a women to walk on it with high-heeled shoes.

                  Regardless of what type of paint you use on a floor, it will wear faster than any other part of your home. Expect to repaint it sooner, especially where you have regular traffic patterns. Keeping some extra paint on hand will allow you to touch those parts up, without having to repaint the whole floor.

                  Benjamin Moore Alkyd Porch and Floor Enamel

                  As a urethane modified alkyd (oil), this paint provides the best of both worlds. Durable hard finish for concrete, with the flexibility needed for use on wood floors as well. Read Full Review

                  Benjamin Moore Alkyd Porch and Floor Enamel

                  Valspar Oil Porch and Floor Paint

                  This paint is similar to the Benjamin Moore product. It provides a high-gloss finish that gives excellent wear resistance. An extremely durable paint, it will provide long-lasting protection. Read Full Review

                  Valspar Oil Porch and Floor Paint

                  Rust-Oleum Concrete Floor Paint

                  Intended to provide a finish that's as durable as epoxy, this water-based product provides a satin finish. It is designed only for use on concrete floors, not wood. Read Full Review

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                    Rust-Oleum Concrete Floor Paint

                    Pratt & Lambert Withstand Interior/Exterior Latex Floor Enamel

                    A waterborne enamel, this floor paint has the durability and scratch resistance needed for tough applications, both indoors and out. It will work on just about any substrate, including wood, concrete and steel. Read Full Review

                    Pratt & Lambert Withstand Interior/Exterior Latex Floor Enamel

                    Sherwin-Williams Floor & Porch Enamel

                    Another waterborne enamel, this one works well for both wood and concrete floors. It provides great scuff resistance, as well as superior washability. Read Full Review

                    Sherwin-Williams Floor & Porch Enamel

                    Best Paint for Metal:

                    When youre talking about painting metal, youre basically talking about using oil-based paints. Most surfaces work well with water-based paints, but metals are a bit different. Youre much better off using an oil-based paint in these cases, than you are using a water-based one.

                    Some paint manufacturers today are claiming that their latex and acrylic latex paints can be used for painting metal surfaces. Technically, they are telling the truth; you can paint metal surfaces with these paints. The only problem is that waterborne paints dont last as long on these surfaces as oil-based paints do.

                    If youre talking about painting new metal surfaces, oil-based paints stick to them better than water-based ones do. Part of this is that metal from the mill (especially steel) is covered with a thin coating of oil. If you dont get all that oil off of it, youre going to have adhesion problems. Since oil and water dont mix, oil-based paints mix with this oil much better than water-based paints do.

                    The other big problem with metal substrates is that they expand and contract with temperature changes much more than other surfaces do. While all materials do this to some extent, wood and concrete dont do it anywhere near as much as metal does. As the metal expands, the paint has to expand with it.

                    Since latex is rubber, one would expect it to stretch with the expanding metal much better than other paints do. However, most waterborne paints today are acrylic latex, meaning that they are more plastic than rubber. As they dry over the years, they become more and more brittle. Eventually, they reach the point where they are prone to cracking. This is why you see so many wrought-iron fences with cracking, peeling paint on them.

                    Oil-based paints provide a much harder finish than waterborne ones do, making them work extremely well for all types of metal. However, not all types of metal are really compatible with paint. Aluminum and galvanized steel are both very hard surfaces to paint, with both of them having adhesion problems. Special surface preparation and special primers must be used when painting these surfaces.

                    Most oil-based paints are high gloss, although they are also available in semi-gloss and satin finishes. For the best possible paintjob, you want the paint to flow so that it hides the brushstrokes. Higher quality oil-based paints do this better than lower quality ones do. In addition, there is a paint additive called Penatrol which can be added to the paint, in order to improve its flow capability. Only a small amount of this additive is needed, about a tablespoon per cup of paint. It can only be used with oil-based products.

                    Whenever you use an oil-based paint, you should also use a natural bristle brush, such as a china bristle. These paints need to be cleaned up with mineral spirits, which can damage most synthetic fibers.

                    Pratt & Lambert Red Seal Oil Gloss Paint

                    Pratt & Lambert's usual high quality shows in this high-gloss oil-based paint. The paint has excellent flow and leveling capability, providing a superior quality finish. Read Full Review

                    Pratt & Lambert Red Seal Oil Gloss Paint

                    Behr Oil-Base Semi-Gloss Enamel Paint

                    Behr's oil-based enamel for metals provides a semi-gloss finish. It is highly rust resistant, as well as having excellent stain fighting characteristics. Read Full Review

                    Behr Oil-Base Semi-Gloss Enamel Paint

                    Rust-Oleum Hammered Enamel

                    Rust-Oleum is one of the better known names for oil-based enamel paints. This particular paint provides a hammered finish, making it excellent for use with scratched, pitted or otherwise flawed substrates. Read Full Review

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                      Rust-Oleum Hammered Enamel

                      Benjamin Moore Impervo Interior/Exterior Alkyd High Gloss Enamel

                      This oil-based enamel is specifically formulated for use on metal. In fact, the manufacturer doesn't recommend it for any other type of substrate. Read Full Review

                      Benjamin Moore Impervo Interior/Exterior Alkyd High Gloss Enamel

                      Sherwin-Williams All Surface Enamel Oil Base

                      This paint works well on all types of substrates, according to the manufacturer's literature. As an oil-based enamel, it should. It provides a very durable finish, which has excellent scratch resistance. Read Full Review

                      Sherwin-Williams All Surface Enamel Oil Base

                      Best Pool Paint:

                      Concrete swimming pools have to be painted to seal them; while fiberglass ones do not. The fiberglass has a coating that is waterproof and the fiberglass itself, being plastic, is pretty much waterproof as well. However, concrete is porous to water, allowing it to seep through. Without paint or a plastic pool liner, the water in any concrete pool will eventually soak into the ground.

                      However, swimming pools create a special problem for paint, as they are always filled with water. While all paints are intended to provide protection from the weather; which usually means rain, which falls on the walls of a home and runs off. With a pool, the paint is essentially submerged in the water all the time. This can cause the wrong type of paint to soften, peel, or even to have water bubbles to form under the paint.

                      Swimming pool paint can be broken down into three distinct categories, each of which provides a different level of protection:

                      • Epoxy paints the best, albeit most expensive and difficult to apply. Epoxy paints will generally last 7 to 10 years in a swimming pool.
                      • Chlorinated rubber paint not as expensive as epoxy, but easier to apply as it is a one-part paint product. Chlorinated rubber will usually last 3 to five years in a swimming pool. (no longer very common)
                      • Acrylic paint the easiest and least expensive type of pool paint. Ideal for commercial applications where it is necessary to repaint often for appearances. However, this paint will only last 2 to 3 years.

                      In addition to painting the inside of the pool, many owners paint the deck as well. While the deck isn't submerged in the water all the time, it does have water splashed and dripped on it constantly. In addition, it has the problem of abrasion from peoples shoes and dragging furniture across it. While decks dont have to be painted with pool paint, doing so will keep them looking good longer.

                      Keep in mind when using either epoxy paint or chlorinated rubber that your paint brushes and roller covers will be ruined. Chances of cleaning these paints out of painting tools are virtually non-existent. However, you dont want to use low quality brushes and roller covers, as that will affect the quality of the paint job. Buy descent quality tools and plan on throwing them away when the job is done.

                      When painting pools it is essential that the entire surface be covered, without any spots that are missed. The paint is there for waterproofing, so any missed spots will allow water to leak through. This could cause loss of water from the pool, as well as peeling of the paint.

                      Epoxy paint is a two-part product, so you dont normally get a chance to do touch-up. It is possible to remove a small amount of paint from both cans and mix it later for touchup, however, if you dont measure it exactly right, you will end up with a difference in the color of the touchup. The tint is usually only added to one of the two parts, forcing that high accuracy in measurement.

                      Make sure that the surface is cleaned thoroughly before application of any of these products. Dirt, grease, oil, salt and chlorine will all affect the paints adhesion and life expectancy.

                      Rust-Oleum Epoxy Pool and Fountain Paint

                      Rust-Oleum, the same company that makes the most common enamel paint for metals, also provides an excellent swimming pool epoxy. This is a true two-part epoxy product, providing a smooth finish and long life. Read Full Review

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                        Rust-Oleum Epoxy Pool and Fountain Paint

                        In the Swim Super Poxy Shield

                        In the Swim is a major supplier of swimming pool maintenance supplies and equipment. Their epoxy pool paint is very highly rated for durability and ease of application. Read Full Review

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                          In the Swim Super Poxy Shield

                          Olympic Zeron Epoxy Pool Coating

                          This two-part epoxy paint product gives you a high-gloss finish for your pool. It is a heavy-bodied product, which is intended to cover completely with only one coat. Read Full Review

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                            Olympic Zeron Epoxy Pool Coating

                            Insl-X WR-1010 Waterborne Acrylic Pool Paint

                            This is a waterborne, acrylic emulsion paint. It is ideal for repainting surfaces which have been previously painted and need a refresher. It can also be tinted, using universal tints; something the epoxy paints cannot do. Read Full Review

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                              Insl-X WR-1010 Waterborne Acrylic Pool Paint

                              Nelsonite Speedcoat 2000 Swimming Pool Paint

                              A waterborne acrylic paint, this one can be applied to damp surfaces, without any loss of adhesion. It will cure in as little as two days, allowing your pool to be refilled quicker than with other paints. Read Full Review

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                                Nelsonite Speedcoat 2000 Swimming Pool Paint
                                 


                                House Paint Buyer's Guide

                                Painting your house seems like a simple project until you take a trip to the paint store or lumberyard. Seeing the wide variety of paints available can easily take what you thought would be an easy job, and turn it into something that makes you want to turn tail and run. In reality, very few individuals turn and run, but that doesn’t mean they have a lot of confidence in their decision on what type of paint to use. In this buyer's guide, I’m going to take away your doubts and give you an idea of how to pick out the right paint for your paint job.

                                Obviously, the first decision most people make is the color they want to use. I’m not going to bother discussing colors here in this article, because this is really an interior decorating decision, and I don’t consider myself an interior decorator. I’m confident you can make this decision without my help.

                                Before we get into talking about specific paint types, let me mention something about paint quality. Like many other things, paint falls into the category of “you get what you pay for.” Generally speaking, higher cost paints will be thicker in viscosity with baser tint. This allows them to cover in fewer coats, laying a thicker coat of paint on the substrate, which will last you longer. If you decide to use a lesser-cost paint, you had better count on repainting your house sooner.

                                Let’s start by talking about the different types of paint that are out there; what they are, and why they might be picked for a particular project (please note: I’m not going to talk about paints that aren’t used for household applications).


                                Paint Materials

                                Latex
                                By far, latex based paints are the most popular option on the market today. Latex is literally a rubber which functions as a base to ensure the paint maintains integrity; basically sticking together and not turning into dust. Latex paints are water based, meaning that they can be cleaned up with water.

                                Acrylic-Latex
                                These are essentially an evolutionary improvement on latex paints. Acrylic is a plastic added to the latex paint which makes for a tougher paint which lasts longer. Almost all quality latex paints are actually acrylic-latex paints.

                                Oil
                                Oil based paints are the “old school” paints. These paints start with a base of linseed oil with the other materials added to it. Because of this, oil based paints need to be cleaned up with paint thinner (otherwise known as mineral spirits). For this reason alone, many do-it-yourselfers avoid using oil based paints. However, there are certain applications where oil based paints are a distinct advantage, and worth the extra hassle of cleaning your paint brush with paint thinner:

                                High-gloss Applications – Although there are a few acrylic-latex paints available on the market which are high gloss paints, they are extremely rare. Typically, if you need high-gloss paint, you need to buy an oil-based paint.

                                Painting Metal – Latex and acrylic/latex paints don’t do well on metals. Essentially, metals are better heat conductors than other materials. Have you ever touched a metal gate on a hot day? It seems much hotter than wood or brick siding on the house because it transmits that heat to your hand better. This over-dries paint, essentially baking it onto the substrate. In the case of latex paints, this causes the paint to shrink, eliminating the rubbers flexibility advantage and causes the paint to crack.

                                Extremely Smooth Paint Application is Required – Because oil-based paints dry slower than latex paints, they have more opportunity to “flow out”,  eliminating brushstrokes and other elements which cause uneven paint application.

                                Newer acrylic-latex paints have been developed which to a large part duplicate the advantages of oil-based paints. For this reason, and even more so because of government environmental regulations, many companies are terminating their production of oil based paints.

                                Epoxy
                                Epoxy paint, like epoxy adhesive is a two part paint. We can say it's a “thin,” tinted version of epoxy adhesive. Once the two parts are mixed together, the paint can be applied. Drying isn’t caused by evaporation, but by chemical reaction. For this reason, you can’t save the paint once you’ve mixed it. You’ve got about six hours to apply the paint to the substrate, then you might as well throw away the rest.

                                Interior vs. Exterior Paint

                                You can buy many paint products as an interior or exterior paint. The major difference between the two is that the exterior paints are UV (ultraviolet) stabilized. That prevents the paint from fading over time. If an interior paint is used outdoors, it will fade, unless used in a place where it won't be exposed to the sun, such as on soffits. However, exterior paints can be used indoors, without any problem.

                                Paint Sheen

                                The paint's "sheen" refers to how shiny it is. A higher shine or luster is created by making paint that has little to no porosity. Flat paints have more porosity. Typically, a high gloss paint needs a better prepared surface, as it will show blemishes much easier than a flat paint will.

                                Flat
                                Flat paint finishes are the best thing to use when you have imperfections in your wall’s finish, which you want to hide. If your home is old, or if your wall texture isn’t as consistent as you’d like, this is what you want. Since the light reflects less off of these paints, they'll do the best job of hiding those imperfections. On the other hand, these paints are more porous, which causes them to both absorb more moisture from the air and stain easier. For these reasons, it’s best to avoid using them in kitchens and bathrooms.

                                Eggshell
                                Eggshell is the next step up in gloss from a pure flat paint. Some manufacturers use the terms eggshell and satin interchangeably; however, in reality they aren’t. These two sheens are the most commonly used for both interior and exterior applications in a home. For the interior, this sheen of paint cleans much easier than flat paints. For the exterior, this sheen of paint resists water much better than flat paints.

                                Satin
                                Just as satin fabric has more shine than an eggshell does, satin finish paint is slightly shinier than eggshell finish paint and they're essentially used for the same purpose. Which one you use is a matter of personal preference more than anything else.

                                Semi-gloss
                                When you want your woodwork to stand out or you want superior washability, the clear choice is to use a semi-gloss paint. These paints are most commonly used for painted woodwork (as opposed to stained and varnished woodwork), or kitchen and bathroom walls. The drawback in using semi-gloss paints over satin finish paints is imperfections will stand out much more. It is essential when using semi-gloss or high gloss paints that you properly prepare your substrate, especially nail holes and drywall seams, to ensure a smooth surface your paint is applied to.

                                High gloss
                                High gloss paints are typically only used for painted wood trim and wrought-iron, providing a finish which stands out much more. As such, the only ones who use it for painted wood trim are individuals putting in wide, expensive trim.

                                Additionally, high gloss paints are used in some specialty applications where high washability and stain resistance is necessary. The only places you might see this would be in a home would be a utility room or a garage floor. Additionally, although it isn’t a residential usage, you occasionally find this in commercial kitchens.

                                Primers

                                There are some basic types of primers used in residential painting. I mention them because proper priming of your substrate is an important part of insuring long lasting paint finish:

                                Regular Primers
                                Almost all surfaces used in the building of a home are porous. That means that the paint will soak into the surface, especially when it is new. Since paint can be expensive, this isn’t necessarily a good use of paint. Primers typically cost less than paints and seal porous surfaces to ensure your paint stays on top of the substrate. The other effect primers have is to form a good bond between the substrate and the paint, adding to the paints lifespan. This is especially important with non-porous surfaces such as metals.

                                Stain Covering Primers
                                These are used for repainting, especially repainting of interior surfaces. Any stains on walls and woodwork (crayon, mildew, rust) tend to soak through the paint and show up, even after a new paint job. These primers, which are quick drying and tinted white, don’t allow the stain to soak through, instead covering it up and sealing it off.

                                Block Filler
                                Although not really a primer, I’ve included this here with the primers, because it needs to be mentioned. Cement block, sometimes known as cinderblock, is highly porous. When painting with any normal paint, the paint both soaks into the block, and doesn’t have enough viscosity to bridge over the larger dips in the surface. Block filler is an extremely thick primer which works to fill those dips and seal off the surface. Unlike other paints and primers, block filler is only good for about 75 square feet per gallon.

                                Block filler is also one of the hardest paint products there is to apply. You'll either need to use a 3/4" nap roller or a brush. When applying block filler with a brush, you need to stab at the block with the tips of the bristles, not just brush over it. This tends to destroy paint brushes. So, you might want to buy a medium grade brush just for the job, and then throw it away later.

                                Aluminum Primer
                                Aluminum is one of the hardest substrates to paint as most paints, even oil-based ones, won’t stick to it. However, almost all houses have aluminum flashing on the roofs. While the flashing on the roof usually isn’t painted, it is painted when it comes down to meet a deck, or a lower roof, such as a separate roof around the porch of a two story house. The normal procedure to paint aluminum is to acid etch it first, and then rinse off the acid. Once the aluminum is dry, a special primer is applied before painting.

                                Which Paint for Which Application?

                                Okay, we finally get down to answering the real question, which paint should you use for what?

                                Exterior Walls
                                Your easiest and best bet will be an acrylic-latex flat or satin paint. If you are painting the house for the first time, make sure to use a quality primer/sealer before painting; some wood products even come pre-primed. If you are painting your home for the first time, count on two coats, likewise if you're making a drastic color change. If you’re covering a dark paint with a light one, count on three coats, although you might be able to do it in two. Be sure to clean the exterior if you're repainting your house, preferably with a pressure washer, before painting.

                                Exterior Trim
                                You can use either satin or flat acrylic-latex paint for your exterior trim. If you’re  painting your home for the first time, be sure to prime the wood with a quality primer/sealer before painting. All cracks, splits in the wood and sunken nail holes need to be caulked before painting. Be sure to scrape off any loose paint, especially if the wood is weathered, before painting.

                                Exterior Aluminum
                                Acid etch the aluminum, and then rinse it off with clean water. Once dry, you can paint it with either acrylic-latex paint, or oil-based paint. Since the aluminum is primed, latex and acrylic-latex paints will stick to the metal. For the best long-term results, I recommend using an oil-based paint.

                                Exterior Doors
                                Of anything on your house, the exterior doors and door frames take the most abuse. Two things in particular are common causes of damage to a door’s paint job which include keys, and shoes from kicking the door open or closed. For the sake of toughness, I recommend painting exterior doors with oil-based paints. Latex paints will work, but you’ll be repainting your door at least once a year to keep it looking nice.

                                Garage Doors
                                This is the exception to the case that you should use oil-based paints on aluminum. You can use acrylic-latex paints on garage doors as long as they are pre-primed without worrying about the paint blistering and peeling.

                                Wrought Iron Fences & Gates
                                Before painting new wrought iron, I recommend cleaning it well with a strong degreaser since steel mills use oil as a lubricant in the extrusion and forming of steel components. After cleaning, a follow-up phosphate treatment is recommended. This looks like light green water which you can buy in the hardware store, lumberyard, or paint store and available under a number of trade names. The easiest way to apply your phosphate treatment is with a spray bottle. It will cause the surface of the metal to turn an uneven black as it dries. Final painting of the wrought iron (steel) should be done with two coats of oil-based paint.

                                Garage Floors
                                The best thing for painting garage floors is epoxy paint. While a little pricey, it will give you the longest lasting, chemical/oil resistant finish you can get. Before applying your paint, clean any oil and grease thoroughly off of the floor with a product designed for cleaning concrete. Once again, there are a number of these available on the market. If you can’t find them elsewhere, try your local auto parts store. Try and apply two coats of epoxy paint if you can; you’ll need to split your material in half, and only mix half of it at a time.

                                Interior Walls for Living Areas
                                Personally, I prefer flat latex paint for interior walls; however, most people prefer satin finish latex paint. If you're painting on new construction, be sure to use a quality primer/sealer under your paint. Otherwise, your first coat of paint will soak right into the wall, acting as the primer. You will need to use two coats of paint for new construction. If you are repainting your home, one coat will work in most cases, except where you are making a drastic change in color, such as an accent wall. However, even in these cases, high quality paints will often cover in only one coat.

                                Kitchen & Bathroom Walls
                                For ease in washing and resistance to moisture, you want to use semi-gloss acrylic-latex paint in these areas. While it's possible to paint them with a satin paint, it won’t stay clean as well. See the section above on interior walls for information on priming and paint coats.

                                Interior Trim (Painted)
                                Depending on your personal preference, you can use either semi-gloss or high gloss paint for your interior trim. It is not necessary to use an oil-based paint for this, as it really won’t add anything to the life expectancy in this case. If you are building your home, prime and apply the first coat of paint to your trim before installing it. This makes it so you only have to apply one coat of paint with it installed which is a great time saver. When repainting a surface, interior trim may need two coats depending upon the amount of damage to the existing paint job.

                                Children’s Furniture
                                Most children’s furniture is painted with high gloss oil based paint. This is done more than anything for durability. You don’t want that paint chipping and peeling. Once again, make sure you use a quality primer/sealer before painting. If refinishing, be sure to properly fill and sand all dings, cracks and nail holes; prime those areas before painting.

                                Leave a Question or Comment
                                3 comments

                                Theressa,Radiators are one of the hardest things to remove paint from, mostly because of their irregular shape. On top of that, you've got a mix of latex and oil based paint on it, which means that there is no one chemical remover that will work well for it. The best solution is sandblasting. Unfortunately, sandblasting is rather messy. If you can remove the radiator, you could do it outside, greatly reducing the mess problem. For a steam system, this is easy. You merely need to power down the system and allow it to cool. If your system is hot water, you would need to drain the system, at least to below that level of that radiator.If you have to sandblast indoors, it is possible, although messy. Be sure to cover everything you can with plastic, to ease the cleanup. Also put a piece of plywood behind the radiator and on the floor. This is so that if you hit the wall of floor with the stream of sand coming out of the sandblaster, it won't mar the finish. Have a good shop vac on hand to clean up the blast media.Instead of sand, you may want to consider using baking soda. There is a version of baking soda made just for sandblasting. It it courser than what is used in cooking. It's easier to clean up than sand is, although it's also more expensive. Finally, be sure to use safety protective equipment whenever sandblasting.

                                Posted on 9/17/2012 6:49 am | Reply
                                • Theressa Theressa

                                Hello,I have a question that I need help with. How can I remove paint from a wall radiator that has 70 or so years of oil and latex paint on it? I'd like to get it back to it's original condition. The heat gun I've been using is not helping in the least. Any suggestions?Cheers

                                Posted on 9/12/2012 7:35 pm | Reply

                                This is very extensive. Great article, Rich!

                                Posted on 3/2/2011 2:47 pm | Reply