Choosing the Right Paint

Picking the Right Type and Finish of Paint for Your Home

The first paint could have been the pigments that were used in the cave drawings some 40,000 years ago. The Egyptians used pigments and some form of gummy substance that could have been the predecessor of today's latex or oil based paints.

The paint industry has grown tremendously in the last few decades. There are paints suitable for every conceivable surface that you could think of. There are the alkyd paints, vinyl coatings, chlorinated rubber coatings, epoxy coatings, epoxy mastics, polyurethane, polyester, vinyl ester coatings, organic and inorganic zinc coatings and more. Leading paint manufacturers have also come out with their own versions of textured paint to simulate different faux paint finished for interior and exterior walls.

At the end of, paints are still divided into two solvent categories: mineral spirit or thinner based and the second one is water based. The thinner based paint is commonly known as oil-based paint and latex-based paint. In truth oil-based paint (thinned with mineral spirit -thinner) does not contain oil while latex base paint (thinned with water) does not contain latex.

Latex Paint

Latex paint is the preferred type of paint that is used in most homes. The paint is versatile as it can be used in almost any type of surface like: concrete, wood, stucco, brick, galvanized metal, vinyl siding, aluminium siding and more. It is easy to apply as it's quite light and smooth. Anyone can pick up a roller brush and roll away latex. Since it is water-based you can just add water if the mixture is too thick for you. Clean up is easy too because all you need are soap and water. Used brushes and rollers can be cleaned and soaked in water for easy cleaning.

Latex paint is more environmental friendly because it is less toxicity. The paint is highly flexible as it has excellent adhesion to most substrates like natural stone, masonry, ceramic and porcelain. It also has better elasticity than oil. The latex-based paint has superior resistance to chalking, powdering and fading. Mildew is less likely to grow on a latex painted surface because of the "mildew-cide" added to the mix. It has not lasting odour and dries on the principle of evaporation so that in an hour or so, you can do the second coat.

Even if latex-based paint is best for both interior and exterior paint finishing. However flexible it is, latex is still best used for concrete, stucco, brick and any stone finishes.

Oil-based Paint

Alkyd paints were the leading type of paint used for bathroom walls and other areas prone to moisture since they were easy to clean and had a higher sheen factor and were more durable than latex paints. Not anymore. Latex paints are now out-performing oil-based paints in terms of durability and environmental safety attributes.

Alkyd paints are great to use in areas with high traffic or for areas prone to impact. The drying time is longer for it does not depend on evaporation but more on the drying chemicals added to the paint. The longer drying time will not show brush strokes as much. This is an advantage when painting woodworks, cabinets and trim. It is safe to say that oil-based paint is best for wood and metals.

The downside of oil-based paint is its vulnerability to chalking and is most prone to fading. It is harder to apply because of its heavy consistency but it has better coverage than latex. Some vegetable-oil based paint can encourage the growth of mildew but generally oil and water based paints have additives to prevent the growth of mildew.

Alkyd can be used in most materials too but a primer has to be applied first for new concrete and stucco walls. Oil-based paints have the tendency to peel from concrete surfaces. Its strong odour is offensive and clean-up is harder because of the use of turpentine or solvent. Drying time is from 8 to 24 hours.

Different Paint Sheens

There are different sheens for both latex and oil-based paints. Sheen is a measurement of paint's gloss or shininess. The range is from flat to high gloss. There may be different types of sheen from different manufacturers but generally speaking, there are four basic categories.

Any DIY-er can do paint jobs. The important thing to do is know what type of paint you need for your project.