Painting is easy and an inexpensive way to change the look of a room, especially if the walls and ceilings are already in good shape, and you just want to change the color. In this chapter we’ll discuss painting inside the home.


There are two main kinds of paint: water-based latex paint and oil-based (or alkyd-based) paint. My favorite kind is latex. Why? Because it’s easy to clean up with soap and water, it’s easy to clean and rinse the brushes, and it dries faster. Many professional painters, however, like the oil-based paints. They say that they go on smoother and are more for giving since they take longer to dry. They are a good option if you are planning to do detailed faux-finishing work, but I’ve even used latex for that application as well. Also, sometimes there are local building codes and restrictions about using oil-based paints, so check with your local building inspector before using them.

Paints also come in a variety of finishes, ranging from flat to high gloss. For a detailed list of paint finishes, see below…


Oil Based/Enamel Pigment mixed with an oil base. Walls Slow drying, so good to use for faux painting. Long lasting and more resistant to fading. Once on a wall, easy to keep clean. Works well on rough services. Slow drying, hard to clean up or dilute. Must use paint thinner or turpentine. They are usually more expensive. More difficult to use.
Water-based/Latex Pigment mixed with a water and latex base. Walls Dries quickly. Easy to clean up, easy to wash (and reuse) brushes. Easy to use. Less expensive than oil-based. Perhaps only that it is quick drying, so not good for faux uses.
Wood Stain Very thin type of paint that penetrates the surface (instead of typical paint that stays on top of the surface). It contains pigment. Wood Enhances wood, doesn’t cover wood. If you want to cover the wood completely, this won’t work.
Varnish or Shellac Paint without pigment. Usually oil-based. Glossy finish. Wood Provides a protective finish without adding color. Slow drying.
Lacquer Glossy varnish. Wood Provides a protective and durable finish. Hard to remove later.
Polyurethane Water-based clear coating. Wood Provides a protective and durable finish. Dries quickly. None.


Flat A flat finish gives no shine or luster to a wall, Bedrooms, family room. Any room where you want a warm, flat feeling. Don’t use it in a room that requires a lot of cleaning, as it is difficult to clean up if it gets dirty. Looks good in any color. It’s a great way to cover up imperfections in the wall, as there is no reflection to emphasize it.
Eggshell Actually, it is lust like it sounds— like the surface of an egg. It is mainly flat, but has a tiny bit of luster. Same as flat.
Satin A step up in luster from the eggshell finish. This finish will give you a little shine, without any glare. This finish is easier to clean, but you have to be careful not to scrub too much, as you will take off the finish. Use in most rooms of the home (bedrooms, office, hallway, family room). Where you use it depends a lot on personal preference.
Semi-gloss A step up in shine from the satin finish. This finish gives a little more shine and tiny bit of glare. Same as satin.
Gloss (or High-gloss) A glossy finish provides shine, luster, and reflection, making the room appear brighter. Use in bathrooms and kitchens. This does not absorb kitchen greases or bathroom condensation as much as other finishes. Also use in playrooms. This is the easiest finish to keep clean, as you can just wipe off anything. Not good for rooms that you want to appear warm.

TIP: Always read the label on paints. The label will give you a lot of useful information and keep up with the changing elements of paint. It will usually give you drying time, surface preparation information, average area of coverage, and warning information. The label is your friend!

Exterior Painting Pointers – Different Types of House Paint Explained

With so many brands and types of house paint on the market today, it can be confusing to know where to start when choose paint for a household project. Despite the hundreds of paint cans lining the wall at your home improvement store, there are essentially two kinds of paint: Oil based and water based. But you will also find primers, enamels, acrylics and many others. Here are descriptions of seven different house paints you will commonly find on the shelf.

Oil Based vs. Water Based House Paint

Each of these two types of paint differs and each has paint varieties under them. Oil-based house paint takes more time to dry than water based house paint. There are drying additives added to oil based paints to aid in shorter drying times. The finish of oil-based paints is also glossier and harder. In order to clean oil-based paint you need to use harsh chemicals like paint thinner. The water-based paints dry as fast as moisture can evaporate. Water-based paint is not as durable as oil based nor is it as shiny. A small amount of detergent and water will allow you to clean water-based paint.


This is not usually considered paint but it is needed in many painting projects and is found in the paint aisle. Primer can be oil-based or water-based. When you are painting and need to use a primer always use one that matches the house paint you are using. If painting with oil based paint, you would use oil-based primer.

Interior and Exterior Paint

You will see paint labeled interior and exterior paint. Due to having to withstand the elements you would use water based paint on the interior. Exterior paint is best left to oil based paints.

Specialty Paints

Each paint type can have paints with additives included in the paint. These paints can include anti-mold and anti-mildew properties as well as fire retardant. There are also paints that have anti-condensation additives added to them which make this paint popular in kitchens.

Latex Paint

This is a term used to describe water-based house paint. There is actually no latex in the paint.


This is just another term for water based house paint. The binding ingredient in the paint is acrylic. Acrylic paint can be found in several varieties including acrylic latex, acrylic enamel or acrylic latex enamel. This paint will not yellow. Acrylic enamel house paint is considered as such due to its durability. It is not a mixture of oil- and water-based paint. Always consult the labels of the paint as not all paints contain latex or acrylic despite the name. Remember that the higher the shine the more imperfections the paint will show.

Enamel Paint

Oil-based paint is given the term “enamel” due to the hardness and durability of the paint. These paints will also include gloss and semi-gloss paint finishes. This house paint is mostly used around windows, doors and trim. Over time this paint can discolor.