If you’ve been to a paint store or home improvement store lately, you’ve surely noticed the dizzying amount of choices and prices available for your painting project. There are just so many paint options! One can is $15, and the next one is $35, both advertising the same result?
By informing yourself of the differences in the products for sale, you can make a better decision for your project and budget the next time you need to go shopping for paint!
Compare it to buying a new car. Some are roomier, with more seating and easier access, while others are sportier, sacrificing seating and access for precision handling and speed. You make your decision based on your needs and desires.
Paint can be the same way. Different products for different projects and all at different price points.
Most ceilings are painted with a flat ceiling paint. White is the traditional color because it doesn’t draw much attention to itself. Your brain just cancels out the white and your eye is drawn to the color of the wall, or the artwork, or the couch instead of looking up. Be careful of adding any sheen to a ceiling, as the shiny surface attracts your eye, and often highlights imperfections in the construction of the house. Don’t spend too much money on your ceiling paint. Ceilings are generally a lot of square footage, so it take a lot of gallons to paint ceilings in your home.
Danger: Watch out for dirt cheap ceiling paint. A minimally labeled, generic “ceiling paint” bucket that is $10/gal will be watery, require lots of coats, and will splatter the room unnecessarily.
Wall painting is where you need to spend the money. Any paint store in the world has various levels of paint for walls. Think of it like a steak. You can get a steak at the local diner for $12, or you can go to an upscale restaurant and pay $55. Both are steak, but certainly not the same quality.
The biggest difference in paint prices is the amount of solids built into the product. Most wall paint is water based, then the manufacturer adds in the pigments, binders, and other special additives. The amount of solids used will increase coverage or “hide.” This affects how many coats it will take to cover properly. The binders are also important as they affect how the product cures and hardens. This affects long-term durability, as well as washability of your walls. Cheaper paints will look terrible in 2-3 years.
Beware of the “paint and primer in one” tag that most manufacturers advertise these days. This simply means it has enough pigment to cover most colors without using a separate primer. It does not mean you can skip the primer step when covering drywall repairs or new drywall or plaster.
“You get what you paid for” is especially true of wall paint. Spend a small amount and it will cost you in labor. You will work harder to apply it, have to apply more coats, and will not be happy with how it wears over the years.
By spending a little more per gallon, you can get a quality wall paint that covers properly, and will wear well and last for years to come.
The sheen of the paint is another topic completely. Look for an eggshell or satin finish that is wipe-able and washable. You can upgrade to a semi-gloss if you want in high moisture rooms such as a bathroom or laundry room.
(You can read more about sheen here: https://meninwhitepainting.com/2017/01/04/what-do-you-mean-sheen/)
Danger: Watch out for cheap paint pretending to be quality. It is tempting to reach for the $25 gallon when you need to paint a whole house and are looking at needing lots of gallons. You will end up spending less by simply buying the quality product, applying less coats with less headache, and enjoying the benefits of longer life and wear.
Trim painting can be tedious, but nothing sets off a room like freshly painted trim accents such as baseboards, windows, and doors. We recommend a harder paint like an Enamel for this type of painting. Enamels are specially formulated to have a harder finish than regular paints. It will stand up to constant handling and fingerprints on the doors and frames, and withstand the vacuum cleaner bumping them constantly on the baseboards.
This is the only place you might consider using an oil based product. Oil based paints are a little thicker and can be a little more difficult to apply, but nothing compares to the durability of the finish once it dries.
Most manufacturers have some great water based enamels that are very hard and much easier to apply and clean up after you’re done painting.
Go for the semi-gloss sheen on trim work. It’s easier to wipe off, doesn’t collect dust as easily, and accents the room by being just-a-touch shinier than the walls. Enamels are not cheap, but will pay off in long life and washability.
Danger: Some manufacturers advertise a trim and door paint that is simply a white latex wall paint. Although it may cover well and look shiny, it is not hard like an enamel. It will dent, scratch, and peel easily. Don’t be fooled! Demand an enamel for the professional look you deserve.
Hopefully this information gives you a little more confidence when making decisions and buying paint for your next project. If you’re still a little shy about all the choices, consult a professional!
Pro painters have used thousands of products and know which ones work, and which ones will leave you disappointed.