How to choose a paint color and finish

Let me set the scene for you. You’ve chosen your project, narrowed down your inspiration photos, discovered color scheme’s you like and then you go to buy the paint and there are sooooo many additional words on the paint can that you aren’t sure are right for your project.

Whether this is common knowledge to you or not, here are all the words you might run into when choosing a paint color/type so that you can be confident in your choice!

Primer: This is the layer of paint that coats your surface to ensure better adhesion of your final paint color. It has benefits such as increasing the durability and providing additional protection for the surface. According to wikipedia, “A primer consists of synthetic resin, solvent and additive agent while some primers contain polyethylene (plastic), for better durability”.

Interior Paint vs Exterior Paint: Basically Interior and Exterior Paint have different elements in them to perform in different conditions. You technically could use them interchangeably. However, you run the risk of moisture and other conditions running the painted surface. Exterior paints also have a lot more chemicals and are high in VOC’s which are chemicals hazardous to your health.

Oil Based: Glossy paint that is perfect for cabinetry, furniture, doors, molding, trims, etc. Also called “solvent based” or “alkyd” paints, they are higher in VOC’s so it is highly recommended that you have proper ventilation and protective equipment.

Water Based: Use water to provide color to the paint because of this there is little smell and it is considered clean and safer to use around kids. This can be used on almost anything.

Low VOC: Volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, are gases that are emitted into the air from products or processes. Some are harmful by themselves, including some that cause cancer. In addition, some can react with other gases and form other air pollutants after they are in the air.

Types of Finishes (In order from low to high sheen)

  1. Matte/Flat: Smooth finish. Hard to clean, PERFECT for areas that are used much (low traffic) like ceilings, etc.

  2. Eggshell: Soft, smooth finish. This paint may be wiped down and cleaned (perfect for homes with pets/kids), Perfect for dining room, family room and hallway walls.

  3. Satin: Warmth and lustrous, pearl-like shine. I personally use this for cabinets, trim, crown molding, baseboards, etc.

  4. Semi-Gloss and gloss: A very noticeable shine but not it does show imperfections. This paint is scrubbable, best for the high-traffic areas, like bathrooms, and is said to be best for painting doors, trim and cabinets.

My personal preferences: Walls I always do eggshell, Cabinetry I do satin. I never use high gloss or flat. I always use Benjamin Moore and for years I would get a $15 paint can when I was covering up a light grey paint color and had to do 4 coats! But when I use BM, I can sometimes get away with 1 coat with some touch up spots. My philosophy is if you are going to have to use 2 gallons of paint anyways to cover a wall which is around $30 why not just spend $10 more and get the nicer paint that saves you time.

I hope this was helpful! Be sure to comment any questions and follow along as we continue to teach you how to tackle your DIY projects!


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