DIY skill of the month: Choosing paints

Brittany, aka Pretty Handy Girl
Yahoo! Homes
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You finally decided on a paint color, but now you are utterly confused by all the types of paint available in the hardware store. How do you know which paint to use for your specific project? Picking the right paint the first time will save you the hassle of having to repaint in a year or two.

Sheen - The sheen refers to the shine reflected off the paint when it is dry.

Flat - No reflection. Flat paint is perfect for ceilings where you want the color to be smooth and flat. The ceiling is the only place I recommend using a flat paint. If painted on a wall, the flat paint will show dirt and fingerprints very easily and it is near impossible to clean without leaving a mark.

Eggshell - One step above flat, this paint is a little easier to clean, but it also has very little reflection. If you have uneven or textured walls, eggshell paint will show less imperfections. Eggshell is a good choice for a bedroom or living room, but if you have kids I recommend moving on to a satin finish.

Satin - This is your middle of the road sheen. It has a very slight reflection. Satin is relatively easy to clean for an occasional mark or fingerprints. It is an excellent choice for any wall in your home.

Semi-gloss - True to the name, this paint has a slightly glossy appearance and does have a reflection. Typically this paint is reserved for trim, doors, or wet locations like a bathroom or laundry room. It is also an excellent choice for furniture and cabinets because it can be wiped off easily.

Gloss - A high shine makes this paint durable and easy to clean. Gloss is typically reserved for windows, doorways, trim and furniture. Once dry, this paint is resistant to dirt, grease and grime. However, if you were to use it on a wall, you would highlight any and all imperfections because the gloss leaves a highlight on raised edges.

Types of paint:

Interior - Just as it says, this paint is strictly for interior paint projects.

Exterior - This paint is specially formulated to stand up to the weather outside. This makes it a perfect choice for your home's exterior or repainting a garden bench or other outdoor items.

Latex - A plastic or acrylic paint for both interior or exterior useage. Latex paint dries much faster than an oil paint and it is easy to clean up with soap and water.

Oil - A strong paint once it hardens. Oil paint takes a long time to dry and even longer to cure. In the past, oil paint was used on kitchen cabinets, doors, trim and other locations that take a beating.  With the development of newer and stronger paints, oil tends to be a dying breed. Oil paint must be used in a well ventilated area and can only be cleaned with turpentine or mineral spirits.

Alkyd - An oil paint that has a drier mixed in to speed the drying process. This paint has the durability of an oil paint but without the extremely long wait time. Use in a well ventilated area.

Low or Zero VOC
- The newest addition to the paint family are low and/or zero VOC paints. These paints have been specially formulated to almost completely eliminate harmful Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). A good choice if you are concerned about safety for the environment and your family. Clean up consists of water and soap.

- It is important to use a primer before you paint bare wood; over another layer of paint; or painting over stained wood. The primer preps the surface to accept the paint and helps it adhere to the surface you are painting.

Now that you are armed with all the information you need to know about paint, grab that paint can and get busy transforming your home.

Brittany blogs for

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