INTERIOR DESIGN INFO {Paint Types & Their Uses}

I did a lot of painting this weekend….our front door, my bathroom wall, my bathroom mirror, and some frames….so I figured this would be a pretty relevant blog post.

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If you didn’t already know, one of the quickest & cheapest design impacts you can make in a space is done by adding a few coats of paint.  Paint & color have the ability to add dimension to a space, to make a room more inviting, to highlight architectural details, and can even affect a person’s mood.  The trick to getting a paint job right the first time is to educate yourself on the types, uses, and finishes of paint before beginning a project.  The following table shows the types of paints, types of finishes, their attributes & downfalls, where they’re commonly used, and how to clean them.


  • Primer – not using a primer can have some serious consequences. Not only does primer help hide the former color it also acts as a bonding agent for your paint. Many paints will not bond as well as you want without the use of a primer.
  • Enamels – used for interior painting. Used in high traffic areas since it lasts longer than latex when it is cleaned.
  • Latex – used in both interior and exterior painting. It is very popular because of it’s typically lower cost (compared to oil/alkyd paints) and it cleans up with just soap and water. Latex dries more quickly than oil and does not require thinners or solvents making it more enviornmentally friendly.
  • Oil/Alkyd – used in exterior applications. Oil paints actually flow from a brush or roller more smoothly which has an advantage of looking better when dry. It is a harder material and holds to the surface better however it requires thinners and solvents to clean up making the application more troublesome.


 Flat no sheen, less washable, can be slightly chalky walls, ceilings soap and water for cleaning, water or Floetrol for thinning
Eggshell slight sheen, more washable, nice matte finish walls, ceilings soap and water for cleaning, water or Floetrol for thinning
 Satin satin finish, more durable and washable, slight gloss walls, ceilings, can be used on woodwork and trim soap and water for cleaning, water or Floetrol for thinning
Semi-Gloss increased gloss finish, durable, washable, may reflect a slight glare walls (bathrooms & kitchens), woodwork and trim soap and water for cleaning, water or Floetrol for thinning
 Gloss full gloss finish, durable, washable, reflects a slight glare walls, woodwork and trim, can be used on ceilings for special purposes soap and water for cleaning, water or Floetrol for thinning


If you aren’t yet set on how you’re going to finish the wall, check these pictures out.  Varying the finishes (aka: matte and gloss) but using the same color is a brilliant idea for adding a subtle pattern or texture!!!

This ceiling:
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This pattern:
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Another important aspect of taking on a paint project is knowing how much to purchase.  Using a primer first is going to slightly reduce the amount of the actual color you have to purchase.  For recommended amounts, I found this paint calculator on Sherwin William’s website….just plug in the room dimensions and you’re set!  I’m sure if you go to Lowes or Home Depot, they can also calculate this for you :)

The final thing you need to have before beginning a paint project is the right tools.  You need to know which nap roller to buy (the depth and texture of the roller) or the type of paint brush you need.  Take the time to study what the store has in stock {types of brushes, roller finishes, edging tools, tape, etc}, ask some questions {they are constantly coming out with new tools}, and be prepared to spend a little extra money to get the right stuff {much of which can be re-used!}.  Protecting your floors and furniture is an absolute necessity, even if you are a “professional.”  I like to jump the gun with projects without thinking rationally…….i’ve spilled a lot of paint…including an entire gallon can of white primer on my front porch {fail.}.