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All You Need To Know To Pick The Perfect Paint For Every Room In Your Home

Posted by Alexa Lerner on Feb 18, 2021 7:45:49 PM

Our Tips For Choosing The Right Color And Type Of Interior Paint

Painting is the easiest way to express your personal style in your home. But, there's more to choosing the right paint than simply picking a pretty color. Understanding what type of paint you need for each surface in your home is key. For instance, a lower-luster eggshell finish is suitable for walls and ceilings, but doors and trim may look better with a higher-sheen paint. Having a sense of how colors work together will allow you to select the right hues, tints, tones and shades. So before you embark on a time-consuming and expensive painting project, read on to learn all you need to know to pick the perfect paint for every room in your home.

Picking The Perfect Paint For Any Room In Your Home

1. How Paint Is Made

Paint is comprised of 4 ingredients:

  • Pigment - the particles that make up the color in paint
  • Resin - the component in paint that binds the ingredients together
  • Solvent - the thinning agent that makes paint a liquid
  • Additive - the enhancements that give paint mold or stain resistance, drying acceleration or other special properties

Quality paints have at least 45% pigment volume concentrate (PVC) which means that more color will be deposited on the surface you are painting. Using a higher quality paint will allow you to achieve the color you want and cover the surface below with fewer coats, and that means less work for you. It also means that the paint has a better chance of wearing well over time.

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2. Types of Paint

  • Water-Based
    Water-based or latex paint is the most commonly used type of paint for home interiors. It's easy to use, dries quickly and has low levels of toxic emissions or VOCs (volatile organic compounds). Water-based paint can be used in a wide variety of applications and is available in many colors and finishes. It's also simple to clean brushes and other equipment after you've finished your project.

    Water-based paint is not as durable as oil-based paint, so it should not be used in areas subject to a lot of wear and tear. Be aware that water-based paint may not stick to a surface that has previously been coated with an oil-based paint.
  • Oil-Based
    Oil-based paint offers a higher-level of sheen and a more durable, rich-looking finish than water-based paint. Use an oil-based paint in high-moisture areas like bathrooms, or on surfaces that are subject to heavy use or impact, such as on cabinetry, trim or doors. With this type of paint, brush strokes fill themselves in to create a hard, smooth finish, but it takes longer to dry than water-based paint. 

    Oil-based paint requires clean-up with turpentine or paint thinner, and can be messy to use. It also has a strong odor and contains higher levels of VOCs than water-based paint, so it's not environmentally friendly.

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3. Paint Finishes

  • Matte Or Flat
    Matte or flat paint has a low sheen and absorbs, rather than reflects, light. It hides imperfections, has a velvety texture and provides the most depth of color because it contains a high level of pigment. Flat paint is not very durable or easy to clean, so it is typically used on ceilings and on walls in lower-traffic areas of the home like bedrooms.

  • Eggshell
    Eggshell paint has a slight luster but no shine. It is more durable than flat paint, but does show imperfections to a moderate degree. Scuffs and other marks are easier to clean from eggshell paint than flat paint, so it's a great choice for places with low or medium traffic, like living rooms, hallways and entryways. 

  • Satin
    Satin paint has a velvety sheen and is glossier than eggshell paint. It is perfect for high-traffic areas of the home such as kitchens, family rooms, bathrooms and laundry rooms because it is easy to clean and durable. However, satin paint does show imperfections and brush strokes if not applied to a properly primed and prepared wall.

  • Semi-Gloss
    Semi-gloss paint has a high sheen, is very durable and is moisture-resistant. It is perfect for crown molding, baseboards, door trim, window trim, or other places that are easily bumped and scuffed. Semi-gloss paint can be cleaned easily but shows imperfections more than less shiny types of paint.

  • High Gloss
    High-gloss paint is the glossiest, most durable and easiest to clean of all paint types. It is shiny and light-reflecting and will show every imperfection, so make sure proper prep and priming is done to the surface where it will be applied. High-gloss paint is used on cabinets, doors and trim, but typically not on walls.

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4. Deciding Upon A color Scheme

Before you go to the paint or hardware store, choose a color scheme for your room. How do you get started? Decide upon a color scheme for a room by starting with the fabrics and furniture, and then build-in your paint colors. The size of a room should be taken into consideration when selecting paint colors, too.

It's helpful to study the color wheel so you can understand how color families work together. The primary colors are red, yellow and blue. Secondary colors - orange, green and purple - are made by mixing primary colors. Tertiary colors are created by combining a secondary color and a primary color.

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  • Types Of Color Schemes

Now that you understand how the color wheel works, here are four ways to create color schemes when choosing paint for your home:

    • Monochromatic
      For a monochromatic look, select hues from light to dark that are within the same color family.

    • Analogous
      Do you want to add color without going too bold? Create an analogous scheme that consists of two to six colors that are next to each other on the color wheel.

    • Complementary
      For high-contrast colors, choose those that are directly across from each other on the wheel.

    • Triad
      A triad scheme is bold but balanced. It's made up of any three colors that form a triangle in the center of the wheel.

  • Hue, Tint, Tone And Shade

Once you have decided upon your color scheme, it's time to go to the store and select the exact hue, tint, tone and/or shade of the colors that you like. Here are definitions of those terms to help you through the process:

    • Hue

      Hue refers to a pure color found on the color wheel when it has had nothing added to change its properties. This term is interchangeable with the word 'color.'

    • Tint

      When white is added to a hue, it lightens and becomes a tint of the original color. For example, pink is a tint that is created when white is added to red. 

    • Tone

      A tone is created when gray (equal amounts of black and white) is added to a color. The final tone depends on the amount of gray used: it may be lighter or darker than the original color.

    • Shade

      A shade is created when black is added to any hue found on the color wheel. This process darkens the hue and creates a more intense color.

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5. Using paint To Impact The Perceived Size Of a Room

As you settle on a color scheme, consider the size of the space you are painting. Using light colors in a monochromatic scheme can open up a small room and make it feel more generously sized. Create the illusion of spaciousness by painting the ceiling a lighter tone than the walls. Keep the trim and baseboards in the same color scheme so that the boundaries of the room are not so apparent. If you live in a small home, painting adjoining rooms the same color will make the overall space seem continuous and larger than it really is. 

If you have very large rooms in your home, using darker colors can make them feel cozier and not so cavernous. When the walls are a deep color and the trim is light, the borders are defined and a room will not appear to be so expansive. But, keep the ceiling a lighter tone so that the space does not feel claustrophobic. 

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6. How Color Can Set The Mood In A Space

Color has a strong effect on your mood and energy level. If you want a space that is calm and serene, select colors that are soft in hue and tone. Neutrals are elegant and comforting. Soft green evokes the soothing feeling of being in nature. Blue reminds us of the sky or ocean waves and is a great choice if you want an aura of relaxation. These colors are good choices for bedrooms, living rooms or bathrooms.

Bright, bold colors can make you feel energized and happy. Yellow and orange are uplifting and joyful and can be used on all of the walls in a room or simply as accent colors. Think about using motivating colors like these in a kitchen, an exercise room or in a playroom.

Rich colors such as purple or red offer a feeling of sophistication and drama. Use these colors judiciously as they can be overwhelming, especially in a small space, so consider painting one wall that can be a focal point or the perfect place to hang a special piece of art.

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7. Testing Paint Colors

You have finally found the colors that you love! But before you tackle your project, you need to test the colors you are considering in the rooms that you will be painting. Some paint companies allow you to upload a photo of your room and virtually test different colors on the walls or trim, or they offer large color swatches that you can stick-on the walls in your home to see what looks good and then easily remove them. You can buy small samples of the colors you like and apply them to poster boards so you can move them around to different places in your space. Or, paint test swatches directly on the walls of your room. Look at the colors at various times of day to see how the appearance changes. And, check out the paint in artificial light as well as natural light.

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8. Properly Prepare The Surfaces For Painting

Once you've decided upon a color, it's time to prep the surface before applying any paint. Fix holes, sand rough spots and make sure the surface is even and smooth. A primer can be used to cover imperfections on the surface underneath. Primer also allows the paint to adhere more easily and will help to conceal brush or roller strokes after the paint is applied. If you are using a latex paint, use a latex-based primer; if you are using an oil-based paint, use an oil-based primer.

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