I’ve been busy lately with packing, painting, and moving. Since I’ve been up to my own elbows in paint and primer, I thought maybe a quick rundown of the types of paint out there and their uses would be helpful.
Most paints on the market today fall into one of the general categories of flat, eggshell, semi-gloss, or gloss. Basic paints will suffice for most of your painting needs, but depending on individual needs, you may need to search for application-specific formulas that will better address your specific situations. Always be sure to apply paint as recommended by the manufacturer to ensure optimal results.
In order for your painting project to look as good as possible and to last for a good long while, it is essential to use the proper base coats. A good option for interior applications is a combined primer-first coat formula.
Primer is used on new, uncoated surfaces and serves to protect the material underneath and provides a good adhesion for further coats. In other words, it helps your paint “stick” better to your surface and prevents excess chipping and peeling. There are both oil-based and water-based primers available. Most traditionalists prefer the oil-based primer before using oil-based primers, especially on exterior woodwork and trim. Plaster and masonry are often primed with a “mist coat” which is basically a light coat of latex paint diluted with 10% water. On flaky or powdery surfaces, a stabilizing primer or solution may be needed. There are also special primers made for specific applications, such as tile or melamine and can be painted over with traditional paints.
A first coat paint is used to build up opacity beneath the finish coats and prevents layers underneath from showing through on to the final finish. This is especially important if you are using a lighter paint over a darker painted wall. Often times, once the lighter colored paint dries, you will still see traces of the darker colors underneath even if it didn’t show through when the paint was wet. This is very frustrating and ends up in having to use many coats of expensive finish paints. Use pale first coat beneath pale finish coats and a dark first coat beneath dark finish coats. Most oil-based first coats are suitable for interior or exterior use, but it is recommended that for exterior use applications, a specially formulated first coat be used that will last longer when exposed to the elements. Water-based paints are usually applied in as many coats as required to achieve even coverage.
Flat paints are latex-based and very versatile. Normally they are used on walls and ceilings. Many different types of finishes are available within the general category of flat paints. You can find dead-flat matte, matte, water-based eggshell, and silk. Flat is also ideal for siding materials because it helps the material endure the moisture. Exterior flat paint can be found with a smooth or a rough texture. Some formulations contain vinyl to increase their wear and longevity. One drawback to using flat paint on walls is that it picks up oily or dirty handprints and marks very easily. This type of paint is probably not the best choice for use in houses with young children or pets. Apply flat paint using as many coats as necessary to achieve even coverage. For use in a sprayer, dilute flat paint with 10% water.
Eggshell paint is a step above flat paint in durability. It has a slight glossy sheen. Be sure to check the exact finish because the degree of sheen varies greatly between manufacturers. Eggshell is most commonly used on interior wood surfaces as an alternative to semi-gloss. It is a good alternative to using flat paint on walls as it is easier to clean and resists dirt and grime better than flat. Some manufacturers also specify if their particular paint formula is designed to be used on exterior surfaces. Eggshell is a good choice to use on walls in busy households with small children or pets. Two coats of eggshell paint will usually result in an even coverage in most instances.
Gloss and Satin
Gloss and satin paints are very durable, hardwearing finishing paint. They are usually used on wood or metal surfaces. Satin is used in the same way as gloss, but it has a slightly less shiny appearance. Both solvent-based and latex-based formulas are available. Latex-based paints are easier to apply, and less prone to “yellowing” with age, but they do not provide as durable or long-lasting finish as solvent-based paints. Most gloss and satin paints are suitable for both interior and exterior use. Some gloss formulas are specifically designed to be used on exposed exterior surfaces. Gloss or satin is generally applied as a single coat over one or two coats of primer.
This is just a general guide but I hope that it will clear up some of the most common questions people have when deciding which type of paint to use and where. Happy Painting! 🙂