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Get to know the different kinds of paint for your home. The part of your house that you’re painting will determine what kind of paint you need.

A glut of free time for many Americans has led them to redecorating and improving their homes. The easiest thing most homeowners feel they can do is paint. It’s not too difficult, right? Get some brushes and masking tape, a few drop cloths, a can of paint, and away you go. All that is true, but where most homeowners make mistakes is buying the paint. They don’t understand how many different paints there are and when to use them. But don’t worry—we’ll clear that up here.

Water-Based Paints

Most interior wall paints sold today are water-based due to their ease of use. They’re called “water-based” because they’re made primarily of water. These paints don’t require any kind of pretreatment prior to application, and they’re quick-drying—no more waiting a day for paint to dry. Water-based paints have an elastic, flexible finish that’s resistant to cracking and usable on almost all surfaces, too. They’re valued for their stable colors over a long period of time, meaning they don’t yellow like paints in the past. The main drawbacks are that the colors aren’t as rich as other kinds of paint, and that they can detach from walls if they get wet.

Oil-Based Paints

Oil-based paints can be used on almost all surfaces, indoors and out. They’re valued for their rich finish and high durability. That’s why they’re used most often for outdoor applications such as lining asphalt parking lots, painting industrial spaces, and painting anything else that’s exposed to the elements. Oil-based paints have a high-gloss finish, and they’re great for high-moisture areas such as bathrooms and basements. The finish is very durable, and the paint will last longer than water-based paints. However, it’s not as easy to clean, and it gives off harmful fumes.

Paint Finishes

Along with the different kinds of paint, various finishes are also available. Sheen options vary by manufacturer, but they all share some similar traits. Most paint-makers have a matte, eggshell, high-gloss, and flat finish available in all their colors. What’s in style changes from year to year, so don’t be afraid to get what you want even if it’s not “hot” at the moment.

As durability improves across all sheens, people are finding ways to mix and match finishes, too. The occupants of the home and the room will guide you to the right finish. Semi- or high-gloss is good for bathrooms and kid’s rooms because they’re easy to clean and don’t hold stains. 

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