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Selecting The Right Paint

Choosing paint is a very big decision.


Paint Color

Color refers to the pigment of the paint. It is the ingredient that is responsible for covering and hiding the surface. All paint colors are created from the same base pigments which include sienna, umber, titanium oxide, and zinc oxide. These pigments are made into particles and mixed into the paint. Since paint pigment ends up being free suspended solids mixed within the paint, if the paint can sits for awhile it will need to be shaken so that the color doesn’t settle to the bottom.

Ability to Spread

A paints ability to spread is affected by the solvent used in it. In the past; wax, water, and lime were the dominant solvents used in paint. In recent times, water is the carrier for water-base paint, while petroleum serves as solvent for oil-base paints. You will often here the solvent being referred to as a medium, carrier or thinning agent. The other ingredients that are put into a can of paint are suspended in this liquid base which allows it to spread evenly.


Paint wouldn’t do anyone much good if it didn’t stick to its surfaces and maintain a uniform appearance. The ingredient of paint responsible for making paint sticky is called the binder. It joins the pigment particles and gives paint its sticking power. Also, when it dries, it forms a protective finish. Paint gets its name from the binder that it uses, so latex is used for water-base paints and alkyd is used for oil-base paints. Needless to say, the binder in oil-base paints is either natural oil or alkyd and in water-based paints the binder is usually a plastic, either acrylic, vinyl or a combination of both.

Oil vs. Water-Base

Oil-base paint is known for taking longer to dry than water-base. Generally, the longer the drying time, the better the paint will flatten out to hide brush marks. However, paint that dries fast allows you to recoat in a timely fashion. Oil-base paints also have a very distinct odor that some people find offensive. But when it comes to durability, oil-base is difficult to compete with. Also, oil-base is difficult to clean and often requires mineral spirits or turpentine.

Water-base, on the other hand, deserves the people's choice award for paints. It dries rapidly, has a very faint odor once the paint has dried, and it can be cleaned by simply using soap and water.


The gloss or the finish of the paint you choose for your room décor has quite an impact on the look of your room. Gloss is determined by the ratio of pigment to binder. Basically, the more binder used in a paint, the shinier the finish will be. Finish choices range from flat (dull) to high-gloss (brilliant shine). When looking for paint, be sure to check the finish. Have the salesperson put some paint on a mixing stick and watch it dry to get an idea of what it will look like.

  • Paints with flat or matte finish have no shine and for this reason they hide imperfections in the wall. Unfortunately, they are not stain-resistant, but certain paints with matte finish and high stain resistance also available in the markets.
  • Eggshell paints or velvet-finish paints have very slight gloss or finish. They are soft and convey a warm look to the room. Also, they easier to clean. They are commonly used for most bedroom and living room décor themes.
  • Paints with satin or semi-gloss finish are commonly used to highlight architectural details and focal points of the home. They are also used in kitchens and baths because they are easy to clean.
  • Very high gloss is quite reflective and should be normally reserved for doors and trims and to create special effects.


Primer is an essential element to a paint job. It is responsible for sealing any well-prepared surface, leaving a solid base ready for paint. Using a primer will make your finish coat look better and last longer by correcting existing surface problems that may lead to premature paint failure. Generally, the only time a primer is not needed is when the surface is in good condition, but even then it couldn’t hurt to use it. Primers can be tinted and used to cover a darker shade and they can also be used to hide slight imperfections in porous surfaces.

Be sure to check to see that the primer is made for the right surface you're covering. Using the right primer will increase the quality and durability of your paint job. Your house paint can last up to 10 years or more with the right choice and use of a top quality primer. Primers exist in many forms and serve in a variety of functions. There uses around your home are limited only by the surfaces that you want to paint. There are 3 basic types to choose from which include:

  • Alkyd - Oil base
  • Acrylic - Latex
  • Tinted Shellac

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