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Interior House Paint

Whether it's an off-white or a dramatic deep hue, color can bring character to a room while moderating the light and apparent size. When picking a color, remember that the lighter the color, the larger and brigher the room will seem and the less lighting (natural or artificial) will be required.

Types of Paint

Interior or indoor paint is different than exterior paint. It is less expensive because it is not formulated to withstand harsh outdoor conditions (constant direct sun, wide temperature changes, etc). Within the category of indoor paints, generally speaking, oil paints have a slight edge over latex paints because they penetrate the surface better, grip better, dry harder, and clean better. However, because oil paints are in a solvent thinner, they have strong, flammable fumes and require a solvent to clean your painting tools. On the other hand, latex paint is water-based, which makes it easier to use and clean up spills and your painting tools. Consequently, latex is the choice for most interior walls and ceilings.


Paint ranges from flat to satin, semi-gloss, and gloss. Flat has virtually no reflective qualities, while gloss paint is very shiny. Not only does the shine affect the color (the more shiny the paint, the more it will pick up other colors from the room), but it also brings out more surface imperfections and must be sanded before applying the next coat.

Washability is also different. The general rule of thumb is that flatter finish paint is harder to clean than glossier paint because it lacks the slick waterproof surface that allows easy wiping. This is changing and there are more flatter finish choices for kitchens, baths, and other rooms subject to moisture, splashing, and fingerprints. Check the label or product description of the paint you plan to buy to learn more.

Mixing and Matching Colors

If you have a sample of an existing paint color (usually a 2" x 2" sample is needed), you can take it to most paint and home improvement stores where they will analyze it by computer and then mix a matching paint for you. If you are starting fresh, remember that colors change with the color of light. Sunlight can vary from a bright yellow to a cloud-filtered white; similarly, artificial light can vary from

a yellow incandescent bulb to the white of halogen or the blue of fluorescent. Each of these will change the appearance of paint, so be sure to pick your color in the right conditions. Also, the color of the previous coat will show through many paints, and if different, can change the shade of the new paint unless you prime it or use multiple coats.

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