Interior Paints

Interior Paints

Beautify Your Home

Painting is the fastest and easiest way to transform your rooms. If your kitchen walls need some sprucing up or your child’s playroom could do with a splash of color, painting is a relatively easy and inexpensive way to give a room a whole new look.

A coat of fresh color on the walls breathes life into any space--and decorative paint techniques go a step further, adding dimension, drama and distinctive personality. Painting also protects the surface from moisture, fading and temperature changes. The right paint will help you achieve the look you want while delivering fast, even coverage that will last for years to come.

Before learning about paint options and choosing the right paints, keep the following questions in mind when determining your project needs:
         • Are you painting walls, trim, doors, molding or cabinets?
         • Is the existing surface already painted?
         • Has the surface been stained? Is it prone to bleeding?
         • Does the surface require frequent cleaning? Does it have imperfections?


The Selection Process

You have a lot of choices when it comes to paint. Some of those choices will be determined by your project. Others will depend on your personal tastes and preferences. But there is one thing you should never consider optional, quality.

High-quality paints usually cost more, but they provide better coverage and last longer. If you go with a lower-quality paint based solely on the price tag, you’ll probably end up spending more money in the long run. You will also spend more time painting, because you’ll have to apply more coats and repaint sooner.

Water-Based vs. Oil-Based


Water-based paints are safer, easier to use and more versatile. Oil paints offer better adhesion, so they’re ideal for chalky surfaces. Oil paints also aren’t breathable, so they prevent stains, rust or wood saps from seeping through.

If you’re painting a surface that may have adhesion or bleeding problems, many professionals recommend using an oil-based primer with a water-based paint to take advantage of the benefits of both.

Water-Based (latex, acrylic)

Water-based paint consists of a pigment and binder with water used as a carrier. You can use water-based latex paint in almost any home application, from exterior paint and trim, to interior walls and woodwork.

Latex paint is the most common and environmentally responsible providing soap and water clean up. These paints also dry faster and have fewer odors from VOC's (volatile organic compounds). It can often be applied over oil-based paint, but oil-based paint is not recommended for use over water-based.

Some of the major advantages of Water-based paint are:
         • Easily applied and touched up
         • Less odor
         • Breathable
         • Nonflammable
         • Soap and water cleanup
         • Quicker drying
         • Better color retention

Oil-Based (alkyd)

Oil-based or alkyd paint is probably the most well known type of oil paint available on the market. The word alkyd actually refers to the synthetic resin used as a binder in the paint. This would be the oil in the paint, most commonly vegetable oil.

It consists of a pigment and resin in a solvent thinner. When thinners evaporate, the resins form a hard coating. If the surface was previously painted with more than four coats of oil paint, water-based paint may cause the oil paint to pull away and crack.

Some of the major advantages of Oil-based paint are:
         • Better surface penetration
         • Better adhesion
         • Durability
         • Better flow and leveling
         • Dries to a smoother finish with fewer brush/roller marks
         • Helps prevent bleed through

Quality and Quality Indicators


Choosing a top-quality interior paint involves two basic factors, paint composition and paint type. To make sure you select a paint that will look great, last longer and be worth your investment, learn as much as you can about the paint you're purchasing. High-quality paints have the correct proportions of each of the above components. The type of paint you select will dictate the quality indicators for that particular paint.
         • High-quality paints reduce application time, cover better, look better and will save time and money on
         • Top-quality paint contains a higher volume of solid material, binders and pigments than ordinary paint
         • For the most part, a water base is the favored paint liquid for long-lasting durability and color


Binders are plastic-like polymers that bind the pigment together to form a tough, continuous film. In oil paints, look for "drying oils," like linseed (soya) or modified oil (alkyd). In latex paints, look for 100% acrylic binders.


Liquids are carriers for pigment and binders that evaporate as paint dries. Mineral spirits are used in oil paint while water is used in latex paint. When liquids in oil paints evaporate, a hard, tough film is left behind. Latex paints that contain water as the primary liquid stay flexible and durable through weather and temperature changes. Water also helps latex paints maintain color better, especially in direct sunlight.


Pigments are finely ground particles/powders that provide color, coverage and hiding ability. Prime pigments provide whiteness or color and opacity; the most common prime pigment is titanium dioxide. Extender pigments provide bulk to the paint and add scrub resistance, stain resistance and chalk resistance.


Solids are the pigments and binders. They create the film left behind after the paint dries and the liquids have evaporated. Higher quality paints usually have a higher percentage of solids. Quality latex paints contain from 30% to 45% solids by volume.

Paint Sheens


Another consideration in selecting the proper paint is a factor called paint sheen. Paint sheen refers to how shiny the dried paint surface becomes. The most common sheens, in order of descending gloss, are flat/matte, eggshell, satin, semi gloss and gloss.

Flat or Eggshell

Flat or eggshell paints have the least amount of sheen. As a result, flat paints are the most forgiving in terms of showing minor wall imperfections. Think of a car with bad bodywork. If it were painted glossy black, you would see every flaw. If it were painted a flat white, you would not notice the flaws as much.

Flat paint is good for hiding imperfections in the drywall tape joints. Add texture to the mix which hides even more flaws and you have the reason textured ceilings painted with flat paint are so common. Flat paint is commonly used in all walls and ceilings in the home, with the exception of kitchens and bathrooms.

Semi-Gloss or Satin

Semi-Gloss or Satin paint is most commonly used in rooms that require frequent cleaning, such as kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms and children’s rooms. A satin finish will provide more stain resistance and easier cleanup than a flat or eggshell finish. Satin also has the advantage of not bringing out surface imperfections as much as a semi-gloss or gloss.


Glossy paints provide better stain resistance and make the surface easier to clean. Glossier paints protect and highlight trim work, cabinetry, doors and molding. They can also highlight surface imperfections, so they’re not recommended for walls. For more information, check out our Selecting a Sheen Buying Guide.

Paint Primers


Most bare surfaces including wood, drywall and metals, need to be primed before you paint them. Like paints, primers come in oil-and water-based varieties. Oil-based primers are suitable for use with oil or water-based paints, so you could prime a chalky surface with oil-based primer for better adhesion and still use a water-based paint. Water-based primer is not recommended for use under oil-based paint.

Oil-based primers stop stains, wood sap or tannin and rust from bleeding through to the surface of the paint. Oil-based primers can be used with any paint, but water-based primer should only be used with water-based paint. There are primers optimized for wood, concrete, galvanized steel, aluminum and more, as well as all-purpose primers.

Preparation and Design Tips

Success for any painting project results from careful planning and solid preparation before applying that first coat of paint. Even the best paints won’t adhere well or produce good results if you don’t prepare the surface correctly. In fact, 80 percent of the time spent on your project will be devoted to preparing the surfaces for the final finish.

If you’re working with a previously painted surface, scrape off any peeling paint and prime bare spots. Whether or not the surface has been painted previously, it needs to be clean. If unpainted wood is gray or weathered, it should be sanded.

Before painting, mark any marred wall areas with a soft-lead pencil or masking tape so you don’t overlook needed repairs. Make sure you scrape, clean and fill holes in the surface. For sleek or shiny surfaces, light sanding will improve adhesion with primer or paint. Prime bare surfaces, including nails on previously painted surfaces.

Tools and Materials

Good quality tools are one of the most important investments you’ll make as you become more involved in home improvement projects. Good tools save you time and effort. If cared for properly, quality tools will last a long time and will make your painting experience easier.

The basic tools and materials you will need are:

Tools and Materials

• Bucket
• Brushes
• Rollers
• Roller cages
• Roller pan
• Rags
• Roller grid
• Rubber gloves
• Drop cloth
• 4-foot step ladder
• Sponge
• Phillips screwdriver
• 3-inch putty knife
• Caulking gun
• Sanding block
• 2-inch nylon brush
• 12-inch baseboard masking
• Blue painter’s tape
• Bleach
• Water
• Lightweight crack filler
• 220-grit sandpaper
• Tack cloth
• Oil-based / latex stain blocking primer
• TSP substitute

Best Design Practices

Color is the key to your room's personality, and combining new colors and decorative techniques will make your home come alive. Selecting a color scheme is one of the first decisions you’ll need to make before painting. When choosing a color scheme, try to find a starting point to make the job easier. It can be your walls, floors, a favorite object, a painting or furniture that will be part of the finished room.

Another good place to start is the color wheel. Made up of primary, secondary, and tertiary colors, the wheel shows how colors relate to each other. You can choose colors from one side of the wheel for a harmonious blend or select two or three from opposite sides for a scheme based on contrast. Both approaches create satisfying combinations, and the scheme you settle on should reflect your personal tastes.


Think safely when you paint and protect yourself as carefully as you do your possessions. When you’re painting inside remember to wear plastic safety glasses or goggles to protect your eyes from flying particles and paint droplets. Wear appropriate gloves when using solvents, sanding or scraping. Paints are slippery so wear shoes with slip resistant soles.

Protect your lungs, when you smell a solvent or paint, you are breathing it. Wear a respirator recommended for the solvent and be sure the space is adequately ventilated whenever you are working indoors. Wear old, loose-fitting clothing. Consider wearing a lightweight inexpensive painter’s cap to keep paint spatter out of your hair.