Oil or Latex?
The choice is one of trade offs.
Oil Based Paint: It has long been true that oil based primers and finish coats offer the toughest scratch resistant surface and are the most easily cleaned. However from an ecological standpoint, the solvents that are needed to keep the formula liquid are highly toxic and flammable and the odor will choke you while drying. Oil based paint colors yellow over time especially in dark areas like closets with no sunlight.
Latex And Acrylic Paint: The finishes while not as tough as oil based, are still tough enough for high traffic areas. Additionally, it’s no longer true that oil based paints have to be used in areas given to high moisture like kitchens and bathrooms. High quality latex paints have evolved to be on par with oil based paints in resisting moisture, dirt and stains. They also hold up well through repeated cleanings. Water is used as the primary solvent so they don’t have the “green issues” of oil based paint. Nearly odor free, the colors stay true over time.
Finishing School: The standard finishes until now, have been satin or semi-gloss for doors, molding and trim and flat for walls and ceilings.
Think of paint as a film.
The shinier the finish, the tougher it is and the easier it is to clean.
The shine factor is a determinant of moisture resistance too. On the other hand, the flatter the finish, the less any imperfections in the wall surface will show.
This short glossary of finishes will better help you make more modern and creative choices beyond customary.
Choose Your Weapon:
- Flat paints – also known as matte, have no sheen. As stated above, a flat finish hides imperfections but mars easily and can’t be washed without removing the paint. The “work around” is to look for the companies that offer a “Washable Matte. This finish hides imperfections and you can wipe it down as needed.
- Eggshell paints – are only slightly shinier than a flat paint, but still matte enough not to pop out the wall flaws. They are more durable and give the walls a kind of glow that doesn’t shout “Shiny”!
- Satin, semi-gloss and gloss paints – are successively shiny such that you choose one of these based how much abrasion you expect, washability and shine preference.
While oil based paint isn’t a necessity in high moisture areas such as bathrooms,
there are varying opinions on finish ranging from,
“no flat finish at all”,
“no flat finish on the ceiling”,
“eggshell finish is permissible”
to “only satin or semi-gloss finishes will hold up”.
To decide where you stand on the matter ask these questions:
- Will the surface be wiped down as part of regular cleaning? If so, it needs a sheen.
- Are the walls largely tile and the painted surface minimal? Flat is a possibility if good ventilation is available.
- What’s your comfort level with bending the “sheen rules”? When in doubt, shine it up.
Tool Time: While you may hire painters to do the deed for you, there may come a time when the “Do-It-Yourself” bug may bite you for a smaller project that you might be able to knock off in a few hours. In any case, your pet projects are best served with the right brushes: the same as a “painter for hire” would use.
- For latex paint, an all purpose polyester and nylon blend brush will suffice.
- Oil based paints are best applied with brushes made of natural hog or ox bristles.
- For cutting paint lines, use a straight edged three inch wall brush and a two inch straight edged trim brush for woodwork.
- On the large flat surfaces, a roller will save you a lot of time.
Use a roller with a threaded end to screw on an extension for high walls and ceilings. As for the roller cover, a three-eighths inch nap works for most applications. If the surface to be painted is an especially rough surface, a longer nap such as one-inch thickness will help.
This is an area where you get what you pay for.
Spring for at least the medium priced brushes and rollers.
Go cheaper and you risk leaving loose fibers on your paint surfaces.
Paint Like A Pro: To “get it right” a lot of thought and time goes into selecting just the perfect shades of color for your home, but there is more to the story of a beautifully painted room. All artists know that the right tools are just as important as the right medium to express a moment of inspiration. In the same way, the right paint, finishes and brushes are as important as the right paint color.
After all, when it comes to painting your home,
a job well done is its own best reward.
This is part of a recent article I wrote for publication on Hamptons.com. It’s represented here as a foundation for further topic discussion, updates and commentaries…
Questions? Write to: Cindy@DecodingDecor.com