Getting ready for a new color in your home, but find yourself wondering what the differences are between types of paint?
Same Day Pros is here to help you distinguish between the variety of paint out there, helping you read the hardware store shelves like a pro. You’ll also learn whether it’s a good idea to DIY your paint project, or if it’s worth hiring a professional to get the job done for you.
What Are the 2 Main Types of Paint?
There are two primary types of paint that you’ll find in the hardware store before you even start talking about finishes and colors. These two types of paint are Interior paint and Exterior paint.
It is important to note that these paint cans only last so long, and they can vary depending on the type of paint you are using. (1) For best results, choose your paint and color within a few weeks of starting your project.
“While all those cans you’ve got stacked up in storage may look the same, it’s important to understand that there are big differences among paint types that affect how long they’re good for.”
These two types of paint are formulated differently to serve their separate purposes on the home.
Interior paint is formulated to withstand some wear with everyday life, such as bumping into walls, moving furniture around, or being brushed by pets, clothes, bags, and other items.
Some interior paints are better formulated for high traffic areas than others, which should be used in rooms with more activity like the kitchen, living room, and bedrooms.
These paints often come with low- to no-odor formulations as it is understood that it will be difficult to ventilate these areas well enough, allowing life to resume once the paint has dried.
Exterior paint is formulated to withstand a variety of environmental conditions with minimal fading, streaking, or peeling. However, it is difficult to clean and often needs specialized equipment to do properly.
It is recommended to only use exterior paint on exterior projects as it also often comes with a faint odor that will need to be vented in the open air.
Can I Use Outdoor Paint for Interior Projects?
Outdoor paint can dry indoors, but that doesn’t mean that you should use exterior paint for interior projects.
Exterior paints have different bases; while interior paints might come in acrylic or latex, exterior paints must withstand environmental conditions, so they are often formulated with enamel or oil as a base.
Paints that are enamel or oil-based should never be used indoors because it is difficult to vent the interior of the home, and these paints will release toxic fumes that can harm the health of the occupants over time.
Depending on where you live, it may even be illegal to use these paints for interior use.
Before you use that paint that’s been in your garage for a few months, it’s important to first check what type of paint it is and whether it should be used for your project.
If you’re not sure, as might be the case if the label has been painted over, it’s often best to go purchase another gallon rather than risking putting toxic fumes into your home air; something not even a fresh air filter can completely remove from the home.
Types of Paint for Different Surfaces
Interior paint is typically formulated with either acrylic or latex as a base. Acrylic paint contains chemicals that make it more elastic, which can be suitable for bathrooms, kitchens, or other rooms that see a lot of moisture, especially when using specially-formulated paint.
Latex, on the other hand, is thinner but is water-based, making it an ideal option for bedrooms, living rooms, and other high-traffic areas.
While latex is cheaper, it is also easier to remove accidentally when washing, while acrylic requires paint thinners to remove.
When painting the exterior of your home, you’ll need paint that can withstand the elements. Choosing an enamel, resin, or oil-based paint is the best choice for the exterior of your home, as you don’t have to worry about ventilation, and the base will help protect your home and seal pores in the surface material.
These types of paint are great to cover wood paneling and siding.
If you are trying to paint over exterior brick, it is generally best to apply a paint formulated specifically for masonry, as this will stick to the material easier. If you can’t find any in a store near you, using multiple layers of latex paint and a coat of exterior sealant can help seal the paint in and keep it protected from the weather.
Differences Between Paint Finishes
Once you’ve settled on the type of paint you’ll be using, you’re not quite ready to choose the color. You’ll notice that different cans have different finishes to them.
Below are the possible types of finishes, though it is important to note that not all finishes are available in every brand or formulation:
Flat / Matte: Flat or matte finish paints the least reflective, providing the most coverage and great at covering surface imperfections. This type of paint is also the least durable, so it is often used for ceilings and other surfaces that will not be touched often.
Eggshell: Eggshell is a popular, low-sheen choice for a neutral finish, and it is slightly more durable than flat finishes.
Satin: Satin is the most popular choice of paint finish for its delicate balance of reflective sheen and higher durability. This finish is easy to clean and good for higher traffic areas but should be used with a roller to prevent brush strokes.
Semi-Gloss: This finish is shiny, extremely durable, and mildew-resistant, making it a great choice for bathrooms and kitchens.
High-Gloss: High-gloss is primarily only used for accent details and trims, as it has the highest shine, but also shows imperfections easily.
So, what do these mean for your project?
Essentially, the more reflective a finish is, the more light it will reflect into the room, making the room appear brighter, more open, and inviting. Unfortunately, the more reflective it is, the more it will show surface imperfections, as well.
Painting Your Home DIY VS. Hiring a Professional
It’s no secret that interior painting can be a daunting task. It seems like an easy job before you start, but it can quickly get out of hand, as you have to move furniture around, stand on a stool for hours on end, and make sure you get every nook and cranny without painting other areas of the home accidentally.
It pays to go with the professionals. Not only will your interior painting job be cleaner and go by faster with a whole team on your project, but it’s also much less effort on your behalf, and the professionals know what paint to buy for what surfaces.
Additionally, professional cleaning of the walls beforehand can help your paint job last a lot longer, meaning you don’t have to re-paint in a few years because of peeling. Plus, the pros know how to get to all those tiny nooks without accidentally painting part of the door frame or ceiling, which can be a frustrating mistake to a DIYer.
To help you hire a professional painter who knows their paint, we’ve searched high and low, far and near, to bring you local painters that are in your area.
All you need do is search for interior painters, select your location, and you’ll find contractors who can help you get the job done in no time.
What Type of Paint is Best?
The type of paint that is best for your project depends on the surface you are painting as well as your personal preference.
Overall, however, experts agree that a satin paint finish is an ideal choice for interior painting projects, as it gives the walls a certain sheen that makes them look more elegant and refined than other finishes.
While it is not reflective and shiny like semi-gloss, it still reflects the smallest amount of light to make the walls appear manicured, and makes the space feel more open and welcoming.
Not into the pearl-like look of satin? Eggshell is another common paint finish that can still help your home look refined and comes in as the second most popular choice overall.
This smooth matte finish will not reflect as much light, making the home just a little bit darker and appear smaller, but it can provide a non-descript feeling to the walls that some individuals prefer.
When selecting your interior paint, be certain to find a paint that is low to no odor interior paint that promises to cover projects with fewer coats.
Typically, a paint that guarantees stronger coverage will seem a little more expensive per gallon, but the efficiency in coverage means less work, less time spent on the project, and fewer gallons purchased in the first place. Combined with a base layer of white to remove any previous coloration from the walls, you’ll find that your project comes out truer to color than otherwise.
- Forbes.com, How Long Does Paint Last?, https://www.forbes.com/advisor/home-improvement/how-long-does-paint-last/