Whether it's indoors or outdoors, a fresh coat of paint can greatly improve the appearance of your home. However, choosing the right color isn't all you should consider -- you need to select the right type of paint to achieve long-lasting results. Take the time to learn a bit about paint before you jump into the job.
Cost: You Get What You Pay For
If you want your work to last, purchase the highest quality paint you can afford. The only exception to this rule is if you routinely change colors each year or are planning to move in six months. Also, unless you are just refreshing areas you painted within the last year or two, you should consider an all-in-one paint and primer. While slightly more expensive per gallon than regular paint, you save time and money by not applying primer and paint separately.
Choosing an Indoor Paint
Paints come in a variety of finishes including flat, satin or low-luster, gloss, and semi-gloss.
Flat paints hide imperfections well, but are difficult to clean. Flat paint is often used for ceilings, since they are not usually subjected to extensive cleaning.
Satins are the best choice for most rooms in your home. Lower luster types do hide imperfections, but may require routine cleaning. For high traffic areas, look for a satin paint with added features for cleaning or reducing staining. These paints will often state that they are designed for children’s areas.
High gloss paints are often used for trim work. However, if you want to keep the gloss level uniform in your entire painting project, having flat walls and high gloss trim may not work for you. Note that baseboards should have a scrub-able paint applied since this area can be subject to abuse.
Semi-gloss paints are normally used in kitchen and bathroom areas. This finish offers a resistant surface to hold up to repeated scrubbing. While a higher gloss level will show surface imperfections, the paint offers more durability.
A water-based paint is a suitable choice for interior applications. Oil-based enamel paints are more difficult to clean than water-based and do not offer as much durability. When looking for a water-based vs. oil-based paint, also search for labels stating low or no volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which release chemicals as the paint dries that can be harmful.
Choosing an Outdoor Paint
When selecting an exterior paint, you must consider your environment and the exterior material you are painting: wood, metal, or masonry. A primer coat is required for any bare surfaces including wood. You will have the same choices in finishes as interior paints including gloss, semi-gloss, and flat.
Oil or water-based paints may be used for exterior applications. Oil-based alkyd paints offer strong adhesion and long wear with a smooth finish. Water-based paints are either latex or acrylic. These are fast-drying and hold color longer than an oil-base. Keep in mind that you can apply a water-based paint over an original oil base, but you must apply a sealer first. When covering existing paint, do not apply an oil-based paint over a water-based paint.
In general, an oil-based paint is the right choice for most metal materials. Latex types are better for concrete and masonry. For siding, you can use either type. Just be sure to match your choice to your normal weather conditions. Paints can be formulated to withstand extra moisture, cold, sun, or heat. To avoid blistering, make sure the weather conditions are right before you start painting.
Take the Time to Prep
Remember that preparation is very important for obtaining the best results. Washing any areas you want to paint will provide a better finished look. Repair any wall damage and allow the repair to dry before painting. Remove as much furniture as possible and tape off areas where you do not want paint. For exterior work, remove any rust or peeling paint before your start.