Repainting the interior of your home can be fun, but there are a lot of decisions involved. After you have picked out the color or colors that you want, you still have a number of choices ahead. Will you need acrylic or latex paint? Are you going to prime separately or can you get away with a primer and paint in one? Do you want a glossy sheen or will flat work better? Understanding the different types of paint that are available is key to making the best paint decision for your home.
The Difference between Acrylic and Latex
The basic difference between acrylic paint and latex paint is the way they are made. Acrylic paint is oil-based, while latex is mostly water. For most situations, latex paint is the ideal option. It goes on smoother than acrylic, dries more quickly, and has less odor. Latex also holds its color better, especially in direct sunlight, and is much easier to clean. However, oil-based acrylics can be the better choice on occasion. They are best applied to surfaces that have already been painted with acrylic paint, unless you plan to remove the old acrylic before painting. They also have better sticking properties than latex, so they are ideal for exterior surfaces that have heavy chalking.
To Prime or Not to Prime?
Sometimes you will need to apply two or three heavy coats of primer to a surface before you paint, but you may be able to get away with a paint that is thick enough to act as a primer. These are usually labeled Primer+Paint, or something similar. How close is the color you are painting over to the new color? If you are repainting with colors that are close on the color wheel, such as red and orange, you may be able to use two coats of primer+paint. However, if you are painting blue over red, you should definitely prime first. Also consider how dark or light the two colors are; white will show through black almost as easily as black will show through white.
Choosing the Best Finish
There are several different types of finishes available for both latex and oil-based paints, and which one you choose largely depends on your preferences. Finishes include:
* Flat or matte
Flat finishes are best for low traffic areas, because they get dirty easily but are hard to clean. Eggshell or satin finishes are the preferred alternatives. These finishes have a slight sheen, but they are less prone to showing stains and fingerprints. Semi-gloss and gloss paints, which have a high reflective sheen that can help brighten a room, are the easiest to clean and most resistant to mildew. However, they are less forgiving than the lower sheen finishes, so you may consider satin or eggshell if your walls have a few nicks and dings.