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A Complete Buyer’s Guide to Types of Paint

Walk into any hardware store, and you’ll be overwhelmed with the number of options in the paint department. There are many different types of paint. Today’s paint options consist of oil bases, water bases, and oil-modified bases. In addition, paint sheen is an important factor to consider before heading out to purchase your paint. It is extremely beneficial to have a basic understanding of the terms used by paint manufacturers because it’s tough to know exactly what you want or need without knowing anything about the topic.

It’s also important to use the right paint bush in regards to the type of paint you’re using. Make sure to check out my article “Battle of the Brushes“.

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Types of Paint

Water (Latex) Based Paint

Water base paint types of paint are most commonly referred to as latex paint. Latex paints are the most common type of paint carried at hardware stores. Latex paints are popular because of their ease of use, and soap and water cleanup. Another popular feature of latex paint is its ability to recoated multiple times in one day.

Oil Based Paint

Oil base paints are popular for their durability. This type of paint is most popular for use on doors, trim, furniture. While oil base paints are extremely durable, they yellow over time, and they’re a pain to clean up which is less than appealing to most people. For those of you that want the durability of an oil base paint, without having to clean brushes and rollers with paint thinner, an oil-modified paint would be best for your circumstance.

Oil Modified Paint

This is a fairly new type of paint. I consider it to be the best of both, because it combines the durability of an oil base paint, with the easy cleanup of a water-base paint. In addition, this type paint only yellows very slightly, compared to its oil base sibling. Oil modified paints are also typically low VOC, which essentially means there’s little odor. My favorite type of oil modified paint is Benjamin Moore’s Advance.

It’s also important to choose the right paint sheen

Believe it or not, sheen can make a difference. Choose a sheen that will work best in the area you’re painting.

  • Flat: No shine. Best for hiding surface imperfections. Less durable than other finishes. Best if used in low traffic areas and ceilings.
  • Matte: No shine, washable. Similar to flat but has the added benefit of being washable. Choose a Matte finish when you want the flat look but need the added durability.
  • Eggshell: Slight shine, washable. One of the most popular and versatile finishes. Eggshell creates a softly polished glow with easy to clean surface. Great for all high traffic areas like living rooms and hallways.
  • Satin: Slightly shinier than eggshell, washable. Durable finish that stands up well to repeated cleanings. Great for walls and trim in high traffic areas where you don’t want the full sheen of semi-gloss.
  • Semi-Gloss: Slightly shinier than Satin, washable. Smooth reflective sheen that is frequently used to highlight interior trim. Semi-Gloss can withstand heat, humidity and washing, making it a great choice for kitchens and bathrooms. This sheen also works best on furniture, trim, doors and cabinetry.
  • High-Gloss: this finish combines the most sheen with extreme hardness and durability. High Gloss is a great choice for front doors, trim and other areas you wish to highlight.

Specialty Paints

Chalk Paint

Chalk paint is called chalk paint because of the finish that it gives off. Chalk itself is not one of the ingredients. It doesn’t require much prep work and works well on any surface.

Milk Paint

Milk Paint is a natural, no VOC paint that is biodegradable and non-toxic. It has been around for thousands of years. It is made of five natural ingredients including clay, limestone, chalk, casein (milk protein) and iron oxides for pigments.

Chalkboard Paint

Chalkboard paint, which is different than chalk paint, converts surfaces into a usable chalkboard. Apply to metal, wood, masonry, drywall, plaster, glass, concrete, unglazed ceramics and hardboard. Erases cleanly.

Dry Erase Paint

Dry erase paint creates a unique white writeable-erasable surface. Once dry, simply use any dry erase markers to draw or write messages and then erase! Ideal for use on interior surfaces such as drywall, masonite, wood, cement, metal.

High Heat Paint

High Heat Spray retains color and finishes up to 1200º F on average. Apply to grills, wood-burning stoves, radiators, engines or other metal items.

Glow in the Dark Paint

Glow in the dark paint is a superior luminous paint that creates a glowing effect in the dark after being charged by natural or artificial light. It can be applied to wood, metal, drywall, ceramic, plastic and more. Great for kids rooms, school projects, holiday, sporting goods and outdoor projects.

Reflective Paint

Reflective paint illuminates painted surfaces under direct headlights for nighttime visibility and safety. Apply to metal, wood, plastic, concrete or masonry. It’s perfect for house numbers, trash cans, mailboxes, and gates.

Mirror Effect Paint

Mirror Effect is a unique coating that is applied to glass or acrylic glass to create a reflective mirror like finish. It is great for glass vases, jars, framed glass, table tops, candle holders and more.

Foam Paint

Foam paint allows craft foam to be painted with aerosol paints without damage. Foam Primer covers, protects and primes foam to reduce melting when aerosol paint is applied on top. Foam Primer is recommended for craft and floral foam.

Paint for Plastic

If you’re painting plastic, you’ll want to be sure to use a paint specifically made for plastic. As long as the paint is specifically formulated to bond to plastic, it will provide superior adhesion and long-lasting durability. Apply directly to plastic mailboxes, lawn chairs, storage lockers and more.

Appliance Paint

Appliance Epoxy paint is an ultra-hard, moisture-resistant enamel that is specifically formulated for indoor metal surfaces. It provides a smooth, washable surface for refinishing the exterior of appliances such as refrigerators, dishwashers, laundry machines, and other indoor metal applications (cabinets, tables).

Countertop Paint

Countertop paint offers an inexpensive way to renew laminate countertops, cabinets, and furniture. In addition, most quality brands will include an Antimicrobial Protection which protects the painted surface by inhibiting the growth of mold and mildew and other odor or stain causing microbes.

Tub and Tile

If your tub and/or tile is need of a fresh look, tub and tile epoxy paint looks like porcelain and ceramic. Apply to ceramic, porcelain or fiberglass.

Vinyl Paint

Vinyl paint restores color and gloss. Ideal for vinyl or fabric car and boat seats, dashboards, upholstery, luggage, furniture, sports equipment and more. Contains actual vinyl for maximum flexibility.

Who knew there were so many different types of paint?!

Choosing the type of paint you’re going to use is also an important decision. Make sure to check out my article, on how to pick the perfect paint color.

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