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Home Improvement

Best Paint (House)

Everyone 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.

Clark + Kensington Premium Interior Eggshell Enamel

Clark + Kensington is an Ace Hardware brand; but is considered by many to be the best interior paint around, including Consumer Reports. This is in enamel paint and primer in one, saving you work on having to do a separate primer coat. It is formulated with Micro-Emulsion technology for excellent scrub ability. They have also added ceramic beads for film toughness and long-lasting durability. The paint dries with a super smooth finish for washability.

Pratt & Lambert Accolade Interior Acrylic Paint

Pratt & Lambert Accolade Interior Acrylic Paint

I have long used Pratt & Lambert paint products when I wanted a superior quality finish; especially for working on custom homes. This is a paint and primer in one, saving you the work of applying a primer coat. It provides very smooth application and finish, designed to look rich and luxurious. Being a 100 percent acrylic formulation, it has outstanding durability, even when washing and scrubbing. This paint is available in flat, velvet, satin and semi-gloss finishes.

Behr Premium Plus Ultra Interior Satin Enamel

Behr Premium Plus Ultra Interior Satin Enamel

Behr is a favorite of mine; in fact, it’s the paint that I use for my own home. Considering that I have a large, Victorian looking home, I want to paint it with the right materials, which will provide long-lasting coverage and protection, both inside and out. Behr’s paints cover extremely well, even when covering contrasting colors. Most of the time one coat is enough, even when painting colors over white or painting lighter colors over darker ones. This is another paint and primer in one product, saving you time and money. It provides superior stain, scuff, mar and mildew resistance.

Benjamin Moore Aura Interior Paint

Benjamin Moore Aura Interior Paint

Benjamin Moore is an old company, providing paint products since 1883. Their products in general have received many awards, and this product in particular has as well. This is a 100 percent acrylic paint for long life and durability. It is a very heavy bodied paint, providing superior coverage and rich, true color. It is exceptionally good at stain resistance, with most common stains washing off easily. Like the other paints we've looked at, it is a paint and primer in one, saving time and steps. An excellent paint for high traffic areas.

Dunn-Edwards Everest Interior Paint

Dunn-Edwards Everest Interior Paint

This is a low odor, Zero VOC, 100 percent acrylic paint. It is self-priming, so you get the time and money savings of not having to prime before painting. The paint is known for extreme scrub resistance and washability. High adhesion protects the substrate and keeps the paint from peeling. It also has very high sag and block resistance during application. This paint provides excellent coverage, with exceptional hide of the substrate or previous colors.

Valspar Color Changing Ceiling Paint

This is a truly unique product, which is why I have chosen it as my number one pick. The paint goes on as a light purple color and then dries to a white non-glare finish. This allows you to quickly see any spots you missed, no matter how small they are. The natural white color of the ceiling will clearly show through the purple paint, if it hasn’t been applied well. Once dry, it provides a matt flat finish in brilliant white. Works just as well with acoustic ceiling tile as it does with popcorn texture. This is a low odor, low VOC product.

Rust-Oleum Zinsser Ceiling Paint

Zinsser is the same company that makes “Bulls-eye 1-2-3” stain covering primer; one of the best stain hiders on the market. They also are known for the Rust-Oleum brand of oil-based enamel paint. This is a water based, stain blocking paint; making it an ideal product for those cases where there are existing stains on the ceiling. Like the Valspar product I picked as number one, this one changes color as well. In this case, it changes from pint to white, accomplishing the same thing that the Valspar product does.

Benjamin Moore Waterborne Ceiling Paint

Benjamin Moore Waterborne Ceiling Paint

Benjamin Moore has formulated this paint to be an ultra flat, so that it can hide common ceiling imperfections. It has a long “open time” to reduce “lapping” from adjacent passes of the roller. Even so, it is quick drying for fast recoats. The formula provides minimal splatter, saving you on cleanup, including your hair. This paint provides superior hide for previous paint and other marks on the ceiling.

Sherwin-Williams Eminence High Performance Ceiling Paint

Sherwin-Williams Eminence High Performance Ceiling Paint

This paint is designed to provide one-coat coverage in all situations. An ultra-flat finish, it hides minor imperfections well. It provides outstanding uniformity quickly. The paint is a brilliant white, with high light reflectance. This paint requires no primer, as it is a self-priming paint. It is intended to cover in one coat, even without the primer.

Pratt & Lambert Pro-Hide Silver Interior Latex Ceiling Paint

Pratt & Lambert Pro-Hide Silver Interior Latex Ceiling Paint

Pratt & Lambert’s ceiling paint is specially formulated to be spatter-resistant, helping ensure that your paint ends up on the ceiling and not on your head. It is designed to provide good hide of any previous paint on the ceiling. This is not a paint and primer combination, so they recommend priming before using it. This paint will work with all types of ceiling substrates, including drywall, plaster, masonry, primed metal and wood. With a 30 minute dry time to touch, you’ll be able to continue with other work quickly.

Pratt & Lambert Red Seal Oil Gloss Paint

Pratt & Lambert Red Seal Oil Gloss Paint

As usual, Pratt & Lambert produces a high quality finish. Their oil-based gloss finish is excellent for use indoors or out. The paint has excellent flow and leveling capability, providing a superior glossy, brushstroke free finish. This enamel coating produces a hard, lasting shine, that is washable and stain resistant. It is a bit slow drying, needing four hours to touch and 16 hours before it can be recoated.

Behr Oil-Base Semi-Gloss Enamel Paint

Behr Oil-Base Semi-Gloss Enamel Paint

If you don’t want a high-gloss finish, perhaps you should look at Behr’s semi-gloss enamel. This oil-based product goes on smoothly, covering a wide variety of surfaces. Like most paints, it is not really designed for use on horizontal surfaces. Those require special paints, as that usually means much more scuffing and wear than vertical surfaces. It is mildew resistant with excellent stain fighting properties. It is also highly resistant to rust and many types of household chemicals. You need 24 hours between coats with this product.

Rust-Oleum Hammered Enamel

This product from Rust-Oleum is rather unique in that it isn’t a gloss or semi-gloss finish. It provided a finish that looks like hammered metal. That’s great for use on imperfect surfaces, where it is necessary to hide scratches, pits, flaws and other imperfections. You can apply this paint directly over rust, although it is necessary to remove any flaking rust before painting. For best results, the manufacturer recommends applying two coats.

Benjamin Moore Impervo Interior/Exterior Alkyd High Gloss Enamel

Benjamin Moore Impervo Interior/Exterior Alkyd High Gloss Enamel

Benjamin Moore’s alkyd (oil-based) enamel is specifically formulated for use on metal surfaces. In fact, they don’t recommend using it on any other types of surfaces. Like the Pratt & Lambert product, this one is high gloss and can be used either indoors or out. It has superior adhesion, helping to guarantee a long life. The finish is highly resistant to rust, mildew and stains, and is easily cleaned.

Sherwin-Williams All Surface Enamel Oil Base

Sherwin-Williams All Surface Enamel Oil Base

Sherwin-Williams advertises their oil-based enamel as being appropriate for use on all surfaces. That includes masonry, plaster, wood and drywall, as well as metal. It is a very durable paint, which makes it excellent for doors, trim and other surfaces which receive a lot of wear. It provides excellent resistance to weather and sunlight. Available in 1500 colors in both high gloss and satin finishes.

Pratt & Lambert Accolade 100% Acrylic Exterior Paint

Pratt & Lambert Accolade 100% Acrylic Exterior Paint

Pratt & Lambert is owned by Sherwin Williams, being their premium paint line. The company’s motto is “Never compromise” which shows in the quality of their products. While they make several exterior finishes, this is the top of their line paint. This exterior paint is available in eggshell or semi-gloss sheens. It has unsurpassed durability and exceptional adhesion, allowing it to resist blistering, peeling, chipping and chalking extremely well. Like most modern paints, it is also mildew resistant.

Behr Premium Plus Ultra Exterior Paint

Behr Premium Plus Ultra Exterior Paint

This is a paint and primer in one. While that may not be needed for repainting, it saves time and money on new construction. The primer seals off the surface, preventing the paint from soaking in as much. For a home that is being repainted, this capability can be important for places where repairs and patches were made, as well as places where the previous paint had cracked or peeled. The paint is designed to stay looking new longer, keeping your home fresh. It is ideal for painting properly prepared rusted wood, even though it is a water-based paint. Exceptional coverage allows you to use it for extreme color changes, even with only one coat.

Benjamin Moore Aura Exterior Paint

Benjamin Moore Aura Exterior Paint

Aura is Benjamin Moore’s newest line of paint and their best. It uses a proprietary combination of resins to provide excellent durability. This paint comes in thousands of colors, each of which is rich and full, and won’t fade. The paint is both mildew and stain resistant. High solids and pigmentation provide excellent hide and coverage, usually needing only one coat. Even though it is a water-borne paint, it works well in low temperatures.

Dunn-Edwards Evershield Exterior Paint

Dunn-Edwards Evershield Exterior Paint

Evershield is an ultra-low VOC paint. It is 100 percent acrylic for maximum protection against mildew, UV color fading, Water and cracking. This versatile paint can be used on wood, masonry, concrete, block, stucco, plaster and metal. It has exceptional water resistance, beading more than most other paints. High gloss retention couples with resistance to dirt, by preventing the dirt from sticking to the film, even in hot climates.

Sherwin-Williams Emerald Exterior Acrylic Latex Paint

Sherwin-Williams Emerald Exterior Acrylic Latex Paint

Emerald is the Sherwin-Williams brand’s top-of-the-line paint. It provides exceptional durability from cracking, blistering and peeling. The paint is UV stabilized to resist fading, as well as being highly resistant to picking up dirt. This is a self-priming paint, saving you that step in the process. It is also backed by a lifetime limited warranty. This paint comes in flat, satin and gloss finishes.

Zinsser Watertite Waterproofing Paint

Zinsser is best known for their stain-blocking shellac based primers. This is another great product from this company, designed to provide excellent protection from moisture. This amazing waterproofing paint will withstand 34 psi of water pressure, without allowing it to leak. That’s the highest pressure threshold of any waterproofing paint on the market. An oil-based formula, it is over twice as strong as latex based waterproofing paints. It’s actually a combination of resin with Portland cement for great durability. An added mildewcide prevents the growth of mildew for at least five years. Great for basements and other below-ground masonry structures.

H&C Solid Color, Solvent-Based Concrete Sealer

H&C Solid Color, Solvent-Based Concrete Sealer

This is another solvent-based sealer, which will provide better adhesion and waterproofing than a waterborne paint will. The formulation is a unique silicone acrylic, which is designed to provide superior adhesion on any masonry surface. It is primarily an exterior product, for use on both vertical and horizontal surfaces. It is resistant to salts, acids, alkali, water, ultraviolet, traffic, oil and abrasion. It is available in a variety of ready mixed and tintable colors.

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

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

This waterproofing paint is an acrylic-latex paint. Of all the waterborne waterproofing paints out there, it has the highest hydrostatic resistance, withstanding up to 12 PSI of water pressure. It is also mold and mildew resistant. This is a tintable product, which can be mixed to any of 500 colors to match your home. You don’t get a lot of coverage with this (125 square feet per gallon), so be ready to use a lot of paint. Pratt & Lambert offers a 15 year limited warranty for this product.

Kilz Masonry Waterproofing Paint

Like Zinsser, Kilz is best known for their stain blocking primers. This waterborne waterproofing paint is great for sealing concrete walls in both interior and exterior applications. It withstands 10 PSI of water pressure, as well as being mildew resistant. It can be applied over slightly damp surfaces, but new concrete must be fully cured before applying it (30 days). Like the Pratt & Lambert product, you’ll only get 125 square feet of coverage on smooth surfaces, with about 75 square feet on rough surfaces. It is also tintable to pastel and midtone colors.

Drylok Latex Base Masonry Waterproofer Paint

I like what they say about this product. Instead of giving specifications about water pressure, the manufacturer just says, “guaranteed to stop water.” Spec wise, it will withstand the pressure of a 22 foot column of water. That’s about 9.5 PSI. They’ve brought things down to the basics with that statement, just stopping water. Not only that, but it carries a ten year warranty. This is a waterborne paint for easy cleanup. Available in several different colors.

Benjamin Moore Alkyd Porch and Floor Enamel

Benjamin Moore Alkyd Porch and Floor Enamel

Benjamin Moore’s flooring paint is a urethane modified alkyd. That gives it the flexibility of water-based paints, while still keeping the durability of oil-based ones. This paint provides a high-gloss finish, in an assortment of custom and ready-mixed colors. The same paint can be used both indoors and out. While being a heavy-bodied floor paint, it still brushes easily and resists sagging. Benjamin Moore also has a latex floor paint.

Valspar Oil Porch and Floor Paint

Valspar Oil Porch and Floor Paint

Like the Benjamin Moore product, this is a polyurethane modified oil-based enamel. That provides a high-gloss finish that has excellent wear resistance, while giving the flexibility needed for some substrates. It is an extremely durable paint, which provides long lasting floor protection. As an enamel, it resists scuffing extremely well. The manufacturer does not recommend this paint for wood decks or garages; however it can be used for metal.

Rust-Oleum Concrete Floor Paint

Although the name of this paint contains the word “epoxy” it really isn’t. That’s to imply that the paint is as tough as epoxy. Rust-Oleum also produces a two-part epoxy floor paint for use in garages. This is a water-based product, which provides a satin finish. It is also self-priming, saving an extra step and allowing you to finish floors with one coat. It is designed only for use on concrete floors; not on wood.

Pratt & Lambert Withstand Interior/Exterior Latex Floor Enamel

Pratt & Lambert Withstand Interior/Exterior Latex Floor Enamel

This is another waterborne enamel paint product. Being an enamel, it provides a very hard surface, that resists marring and scuffing quite well. Designed to be applied either indoors or outdoors, this one can be used on just about any surface, including wood, concrete and metal. It provides an eggshell-sheen finish in a wide variety of custom colors. Its remarkable adhesion resists peeling and chipping.

Sherwin-Williams Floor & Porch Enamel

Sherwin-Williams Floor & Porch Enamel

This is another latex-based product, designed for use either indoors or out. It is perfect for application on both wood and concrete. The enamel finish provides scuff resistance, with excellent washability; as well as high chemical resistance to even the toughest household chemicals. It comes in a satin finish and can be tinted to over 1,500 different colors. A popular paint, it will keep wood and concrete floors looking new longer.

Rust-Oleum Epoxy Pool and Fountain Paint

This product from Rust-Oleum is a true two-part epoxy paint. As such, this is probably the most durable swimming pool paint you can buy. As a two-part process, it cures by a chemical reaction, not just drying. This product should not be applied over chlorinated rubber, synthetic rubber, vinyl or acrylic substrates. Like any epoxy product, it will yellow and chalk slightly with age. However, that is merely cosmetic and does not affect the integrity of the paint film or its performance. It is available in black, white or blue.

In the Swim Super Poxy Shield

This is a one-part epoxy paint, rather than the two-part that Rust-Oleum supplies. Nevertheless, it still provides the same level of protection. This paint gives you a high-gloss finish, which will last up to eight years. It is intended as a one-coat product, giving you about 150 square feet of coverage per gallon. As an epoxy, it will adhere to all swimming pool surfaces. Available in black, white, pool blue or dark blue.

Olympic Zeron Epoxy Pool Coating

Olympic paint also provides an epoxy pool coating. This two-part product provides up to eight years of protection for your pool. It is a heavy-bodied product, which is intended to provide a durable, gloss finish with only one coat. The paint can be applied by roller or airless paint spray equipment, providing you with 125 – 150 square feet of coverage per gallon. It is available in white, blue ice, bikini blue and blue mist.

Insl-X WR-1010 Waterborne Acrylic Pool Paint

This product is a waterborne, acrylic emulsion paint. As such, you can’t expect as many years of service out of it as you can with the epoxy products. However, it can be applied to damp surfaces, which the epoxy products can’t do. It is self-priming, however two coats are recommended. One gallon covers 250 to 300 square feet. It can be tinted with up to 2 ounces of universal colorants, allowing you to have the paint tinted to match your décor. This is an excellent product for recoating of pools that need freshening up.

Nelsonite Speedcoat 2000 Swimming Pool Paint

Like the Insl-X, this is another waterborne acrylic pool coating. An ideal product for use when a quick repaint is needed. It can be applied to damp surfaces and the pool can be refilled in as little as two days, with good weather. One gallon covers about 300 square feet. Unlike epoxy, it can be applied over previously painted surfaces, including those that have been painted in chlorinated rubber or other acrylic paint products.

Dutch Boy Cabinet & Trim Paint

I’m going with Dutch Boy’s Cabinet & Trim paint for my number one pick. Dutch Boy is actually a subsidiary of Sherwin-Williams paint, although it operates and markets as a separate company. The company has been around for a little over a century now and their cabinet & trim paint provides a porcelain-like, high-gloss finish, even though it’s a latex paint. This paint is highly resistant to scratches, chips, and scuffs, with a superior opposition to grease and stains. Although a latex-based paint, windows and doors won’t stick to frames it’s applied to  (a common problem with latex-based paints, due to the relatively “soft” cure of the paint).

Rustoleum Cabinet Transformatoin Coating Kit

Rustoleum is best known for their oil-based enamels, which coat every other metal object in America’s back yards. Rustoleum’s entry into this product group isn’t just a paint, this is a 3-part paint system designed specifically for restoring old kitchen cabinetry. With it, you can create solid or wood-grained finishes, changing the color of your cabinets, or restoring the original look. The parts of the system consist of a colored bond coat, the decorative glaze (which is where the wood grain comes from), and a protective “clear coat” top coat. This makes for a highly durable paint that won’t lose its gloss or pattern, even with repeated washing.

Insl-X Cabinet Coat Enamel

Insl-X is a little known company that mostly produces specialty paints used in industrial applications but they also have a healthy line of homeowner products. Their CabinetCoat urethane acrylic cabinet paint has been specially developed for adhesion to “hard to stick” surfaces such as polyurethane and varnish. It’s compatible with all substrates, even metal. No primer is needed to create a proper bond on these surfaces as the paint itself will bond with no issue while adding  a rich satin finish to your cabinets. Insl-X also provides this product in a kit, which provides you with everything you need right in the box.

Old Village Acrylic Paint

For restoring old homes, Old Village offers this acrylic latex paint that’s almost like the original in a range of 33 colors which resist cracking, chipping, fading, and peeling. This is a paint specifically formulated and tinted for those who are working on restoration projects.  This company has been providing paint and varnish to America since many of those historic homes were built. If you want something that’s going to look authentic, look no further.

Reclaim Cabinet Paint

Reclaim, which says it is "beyond paint" is a relatively new product, designed specifically for the harsh treatment  cabinets and furniture receive. According to the manufacturer, this is a combination bonder, primer, and finish coat, all in one. Reclaim can be applied to cabinets without stripping, sanding or priming, although it is recommended to clean the cabinets to remove any grease, before applying. This paint covers extremely well and provides a durable, washable surface in one to two coats. The price definitely says that this product is something special, as it’s higher than your average cabinet paint.

Dunn Edwards Aristowall Water Based Gloss Interior Paint

Dunn Edwards Aristowall Water Based Gloss Interior Paint

This is a truly amazing paint product. There aren’t many companies who have produced a high gloss waterborne paint, but Dunn Edwards has. This paint gives you the convenience of being able to clean it up with water, while providing the high gloss finish that is normally associated only with oil based paints. It’s an enamel paint as well, which means that it is a hard paint, providing a durable finish. Your kids running through the doorway aren’t likely to rub the paint off the doorframe when you use this paint.

Benjamin Moore Advance Waterborne Interior Alkyd Paint

Benjamin Moore Advance Waterborne Interior Alkyd Paint

Benjamin Moore also has a waterborne high gloss paint. Their advance formula provides the traditional beauty of oil-based paint, while providing the convenience of water cleanup. It is a 100 percent alkyd formula for durability. This formulation uses proprietary resins for low VOCs, even after tinting. Being a 100 percent alkyd formula, you can count on it flowing and leveling like traditional oil-based alkyds. The long dry time helps it to achieve the incredibly smooth finish needed for any high gloss paint.

Pratt & Lambert Red Seal Oil Gloss Paint

Pratt & Lambert Red Seal Oil Gloss Paint

As usual, Pratt & Lambert produces a high quality finish. Their oil-based gloss finish is excellent for use indoors or out. The paint has excellent flow and leveling capability, providing a superior glossy, brushstroke free finish. This enamel coating produces a hard, lasting shine, that is washable and stain resistant. It is a bit slow drying, needing four hours to touch and 16 hours before it can be recoated.

Behr Premium Plus Ultra Interior Semi-Gloss Enamel

Behr Premium Plus Ultra Interior Semi-Gloss Enamel

Behr is my one of my favorite paint companies, as well as being the one I have used on my own home. This is a semi-gloss paint, rather than high gloss. While not as shiny as high gloss paints, it will still provide an excellent finish, that is durable and washable. The paint is formulated with “nanoguard” technology to provide an extra protective shell that is highly stain, scuff, mar and mildew resistant. It is designed so that the paint will stay looking new longer.

Valspar Signature Semi-Gloss Interior Paint

Valspar Signature Semi-Gloss Interior Paint

This is a paint and primer in one, which will save you steps on new construction. A 100% acrylic latex, it provides superior adhesion, even when painting over old finish. This is a low odor, low VOC paint with a lifetime warranty. It is stain resistant, mildew resistant and scrubbable. Like the Behr product, this one is a semi-gloss water based paint, so it won’t give the high gloss sheen of some of the others. If that’s what you’re looking for, Valspar provides quality paint at a reasonable price.

Buyer's Guide

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.

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