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Paint Overview

Paint can transform a surface while providing a layer of protection. Choosing the right paint is as important as choosing the right painting tools in order to get the right results.

Types of Paint

Paint is categorized as interior or exterior paint. Exterior paint is more expensive because it is is formulated to stand up to the harsh outdoor conditions (direct sun, wide temperature changes, etc). Generally speaking, oil paints are better than latex paints; 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. Latex paint is water-based, which makes it easier to use and clean up and so the choice for most interior walls and ceilings. Unlike oil paints, latex paints dry to a rubbery coating that is less likely to chip.

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Finishes


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. However, flat paint is harder to clean than the others because the glossy finishes do not absorb dirt as readily.

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.

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