Everything You Need to Know About Selecting Interior Paint

There are several factors to take into account when selecting interior paint for your home. What room are you painting? How much sun does it get? How much use does it get? How much cleaning will it need? Choosing the wrong interior paint can be a major disappointment that can waste your time and money or leaving you living with results that you don’t love.

Follow this easy guide to learn everything you need to know about selecting interior paint finishes to help you get a look you love, the first time.

Bases

Paint comes in two choices of bases: oil or latex. Latex is often the most popular choice as it is easier to clean, more durable, more fade resistant and less likely to bubble and blister over time. In most cases, you will select a latex-based paint. However, there are instances in which oil based paints are better for the job. If painting over natural wood, an oil-based primer will better seal stains and cover knots. Oil-based paints will take longer to dry, requiring more time between coats. If you’ve used an oil-based primer, you can finish your work with latex paint for your color.

Sheen

Paint comes in an array of sheens, from flat to high gloss with eggshell, satin and semi-gloss in between. The sheen of the paint determines two things: the amount of shine it gives off (light it reflects) and how durable it is. Different jobs and different rooms will benefit from different sheens. 

High-Gloss

Generally, the higher the shine, the more durable the paint and the easier it is to clean. High-gloss paints are hard finished, super shiny paints that reflect a lot of light. They are strong, long-lasting and hold up against high-traffic, high-mess areas. Think kitchen cabinet paint durable. High-gloss paint is the best choice for anywhere that needs to be easily cleaned and gets a lot of use like a kitchen or playroom. High gloss is also a great choice for trim work to provide a nice sharp look against flatter painted walls.
One drawback of high-gloss paints is that their high sheen means they clearly show any bumps and blemishes on your walls. If painting with high gloss, you’ll need to make sure you give extra care to your mudding and sanding process as any mistakes will be easily seen once your paint is applied.

Semi-Gloss

If you want to tone down the shine but still need a paint that’s easy cleaning and durable, then semi-gloss is a great choice. Great for bathrooms, kitchens, high-traffic rooms and trims. Semi-gloss paints offer a lot of the same benefits of high-gloss paints but are often slightly less expensive. Though less light-reflecting than it’s high-gloss alternative, semi-gloss will still show blemishes more than flatter options so attention must be paid to your prep work. It might not be the best choice for a wall that is particularly rough. In this case, you might consider smoothing the wall with a skim-coat or prepping paper before painting.

Satin

Satin sheen paints finish smooth and velvety, still offering a nice gloss but without the shine of semi or high-gloss paints. Satin sheen paints still offer high durability and are easily cleaned and are good options for hallways, dining rooms, kid’s rooms, entryways, stairways and railings but can also do a good job in kitchens, baths and other areas that need to be easily cleaned. The most common issue with satin finish paints is they can often show issues with the application such as brush strokes or roller lines.

Eggshell

Eggshell gets its name because its finish resembles exactly that – an eggshell: nearly flat with little gloss. Eggshell paints are great for covering a wall’s imperfections but lose some points on durability and ease of cleaning. Eggshell is arguably the most popular type of paint finish and can be considered the middle point between gloss and flat. This type of finish can be used in nearly any room but may not do the job needed in high-moisture rooms like bathrooms or kitchens that see a lot of dirt and grease.

Flat

Flat finish paints don’t reflect light which makes it the ideal choice for bumped and bruised walls with something to hide. Choosing a flat sheen paint can also help you save time and money on your application as they offer the most pigment and coverage of the paint sheen options and often can get the job done with just one coat. However, flat paints can be very difficult to clean, and you might just end up washing off the paint before you get off the crayon so it is best used in rooms where don’t expect a lot of scuffs and dirt.

If you are painting in a dark, rich color your paint will pack even more shine than a lighter color paint in the same finish as it has a more colorant, so you may want to step down a level in gloss if you don’t want a high-shine look. You might also want to take a step down on the sheen scale if you are painting a large wall that gets a lot of sun, as this will also add to the amount of light it reflects and imperfections it shows.