An expert guide to paints and finishes

No matter what you want to colour or coat around your house, there’s a paint that’s a great match for your surface out there. Here’s what you need to know.

Guide to paints and finishes
An expert guide to paints and finishes

Water-based is better than oil-based

There are quite a few advantages that water-based acrylic paints have over oil-based enamel varieties:

  • When you’re painting, drips and splashes can be removed with a simple wipe over with a damp cloth.
  • When you’re finished painting with water-based paints, you can clean paintbrushes with water.
  • Painting with water-based acrylic paints creates almost no fumes or vapours.
  • Water-based acrylic paints dry faster.
  • They also usually cost less.

However, oil-based enamel paints also have their advantages:

  • These paints can offer superior durability.
  • Oil-based paints are usually used for high quality work.

But, it’s much easier and cheaper to complete gorgeous DIY paint jobs with water-based acrylic paints.

The following types of paint can be either water or oil-based.

Flat (or matte) paints

  • Flat paint leaves a soft, glare-free finish.
  • This kind of paint usually hides minor surface scratches or dings.
  • Flat finish paint is best for ceilings and walls that won’t see a lot of wear.

Satin finish paints

  • Satin finish paint gives both the soft finish of flat paint and the washability of semi-gloss.
  • This kind of paint is is ideal for hallways or kitchens, places where walls will need to be cleaned regularly.

Semi-gloss paints

  • Semi-gloss paint creates a surface that’s very easy to wash.
  • This kind of paint can be trickier to apply than flat and low-sheen paints, however.
  • Semi-gloss paint works best on windowsills, doors and trim, and in kitchens and bathrooms — places where moisture resistance and washability are essential.

High-gloss paints

High-gloss paint highlights any flaws and defects in the surface you apply it to because it is highly reflective.

  • These kinds of paints require thorough surface preparation before application.
  • You’ll also need to apply this paint very carefully to create an even surface and avoid runs.
  • One advantage of high-gloss paint is that it creates a surface that’s resistant to grease and moisture.
  • A surface painted with high-gloss paint is also very easy to clean.

Paints with specialized finishes

The above paints are good for general jobs. But there are also quite a few specialized paints available that are great for specific jobs. Some of these include:

  • Textured coatings that are useful for covering up uneven walls and ceilings. However, these can be very difficult to remove.
  • There are also paints specifically designed for floors, tiles and melamine (a surface material commonly found in kitchens).

Now that you know which paints and finishes are great matches to which surfaces, you’re ready to handle your next painting job like a pro.

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