How to Choose Paint

How-to guide for choosing paint

Painting a room can be a daunting task with so many colours and styles of paint to choose from.  Use this guide to find the right kind of paint for your needs.

How to Choose Paint

Most professional painters favour flat latex paints these days for most walls and ceiling jobs; they usually choose latex semi-gloss or gloss paints to paint woodwork. Latex has a number of advantages over the older, natural oil-based and synthetic alkyd paints, which contain solvents that cause pollution. Latex is water-based, meaning it rarely has to be thinned; brushes and any paint drips clean up easily with soap and water; it emits almost no fumes or vapours when applied; and it dries fast.

1. Latex paint finishes

Flat paint

Flat paint is an all-purpose paint with a soft, glare-free finish that hides minor surface irregularities to produce the greatest uniformity of appearance. It is the usual choice for ceilings, and for walls in low-traffic areas.

Eggshell paint

Eggshell paint is very versatile, in that it combines the soft finish of flat with the washability of semi-gloss. Use it wherever you want lustrous surface without the shiny look of gloss paints.

Medium or semi-gloss paint

Medium or semi-gloss paint is highly washable. It works well on windows and doors as well as on walls in kitchens and baths, where you want moisture resistance and washability. And semi-gloss applies with nearly the same ease as flat and eggshell paints.

High-gloss paint

High-gloss paint has the highest lustre and resists grease and mildew. It takes a lot of abuse and can be washed repeatedly. Its disadvantage is a tendency to show flaws and streaks; so be extra careful in preparing the surface and in applying the paint.

2. Other specialty paints

  • Ceiling paint is a specialty paint that's ultra-flat and formulated to be thicker than standard paint, in order to reduce drips and spatters. Acoustical ceiling paint is a porous paint best used on acoustical tile ceilings.
  • Textured paint disguises a wall's existing irregularities by adding texture of its own.
  • Mildew-resistant paint is formulated for kitchens and baths; scrubbable paints are available for children's rooms.

3. How much paint you need

How much paint you need depends on the size of the room, the condition of the wall surface and the paint's spreading rate.

  • For a rough estimate of how much paint you'll need to cover the walls, measure the total footage around the perimeter and multiply by the wall height in metres/feet.
  • From this subtract 1.8 square metres (20 square feet) for each door and 1.3 square metres (14 square feet) for each window.
  • Divide by the spreading rate (usually 90 to 120 metres, or 300 to 400 feet) per four litres (one gallon).

That's the number of litres (gallons) you'll need. Do a similar calculation for the ceiling by measuring the square footage and dividing by the spread rate.

4. Trim

The amount of paint needed for the trim is about one-fourth of what is required for the walls. It will be more or less, depending on the number of windows and doors and the amount of detail trim.

5. Primer paint

Primer is a specialty paint designed to make the topcoat look better, go further and adhere better. New, unpainted drywall must always be primed.

  • Dark colours, heavily patched walls and walls that have previously been painted in oil-based paint, also need a primer for the topcoat to cover successfully.
  • Primer is manufactured in white only, but can be tinted to approximate the colour of the finish coat that will follow.
  • If you don't know whether you need a primer, try the topcoat in a well-lighted area.
  • Allow the paint to dry, and observe how well the finish covers and whether any streaks show through.
  • If it doesn't cover well, apply a primer coat.

These simple steps will help you find the right type of paint and colour to complete your project.

The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
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