Best Interior Paint for Your Home: 2020 Buyers Guide

Redecorating can breathe a whole new lease of life into any room, turning tired old spaces into fresh, inviting ones that you love spending time with. Yet let’s be honest:

Choosing the best interior paint for your home can be a pretty overwhelming task.

Walk into any DIY or home decor store, and you’re immediately inundated with options; a vast array of colors in a million different shades, all with weird and wonderful names like Calluna, Song of Summer, and our personal favorite, the ever-curious Potentially Purple.

Still, even if you hit on an ideal color choice, there are other factors to consider.


A fresh coat of paint can truly reinvigorate a room. Here, we look at the best interior paints to help make any space feel brand new in 2020.

How do you know which paint formula is best suited to your walls?

What exactly is the difference between a matt and gloss finish anyway?

And can you really use the paint you picked for your recent bedroom renovation other parts of the house?

Today, we answer all of those questions and more in our complete 2020 buyer’s guide to the best interior paints around, explaining everything you need to know to pick the perfect paint for your next decorating project.

2020’s Best Interior Paints For Your Home


Most of our top-selected interior paints come in a variety of colors to help you create the perfect ambiance in any space.

PAINTFINISHVOLUMEDRY TIME 
Benjamin Moore Regal Select Interior Pearl Satin1 quart1 hour (first coat)

2 hours (second coat)

Rust-Oleum 285140 Interior Chalked PaintUltra-Matte30 oz.30-minutes per coat
Jolie Paint Santorini Matte FinishMatte32 oz.30 minutes per coat
Retique It Liquid WoodWater-Based32 oz.2 hours per coat
KILZ Original Interior PrimerOil-Based1 quart30 minutes (1st coat)

1 hour (second coat)

Benjamin Moore Regal Select Interior Pearl


Benjamin Moore’s satin-finish paint helps create a light, spacious look in the modern home.

A beautiful finish is the one essential prerequisite for any interior paint to be considered among the best of the best.

Fortunately, every color in Benjamin Moore’s Regal Select range delivers exactly that, but there’s much more to this one than just the elegant, soft luster of this premium brand pearl (satin) finish.

A breeze to apply to just about any surface, the first coat dries within sixty minutes, taking no more than two weeks to cure and leaving you with a stunning paint job.

As if that wasn’t enough, this superior acrylic is free from all VOCs, meaning no pungent fumes and zero air pollution.

Benjamin Moore Regal Select Interior Pearl Summary

Finish: Satin

Volume: 1 quart

1st coat drying time: 1 hour

2nd coat drying time: 2 hours

We love it because: It takes all of the effort out of creating a stunning new look in any interior environment.

Rust-Oleum 285140 Interior Chalked Paint


Rust-Oleum 285140 Interior Chalked Paint works just as well on solid brick as it does on ceramics, wooden floors and other features.

From solid ceramics and brick walls to wooden features like doors and stairs,Rust-Oleum’s best-selling Interior Chalked Paint handles just about any surface with ease, all without the need for primers and bonding paints.

As if that wasn’t enough to ensure its place on our list, consider the fact that a single can will provide a rich, smooth finish to 150 square feet making it one of the best value-for-money options we’ve come across.

It also boasts the fastest dry-to-touch time of any brand on our list, taking just thirty minutes per coat.

Put these two points together, and there’s no reason why you couldn’t paint an entire room, pop out for a quick coffee break and then add a second coat, all in the space of a morning.

Rust-Oleum 285140 Interior Chalked Paint Summary

Type: Ultra-Matte

Volume: 30 oz

1st coat drying time: 30 minutes

2nd coat drying time: 30 minutes

We love it because: It’s the fastest-drying paint on our list, meaning it should take no time at all to paint an entire room.

Jolie Paint Santorini Blue


Inspired by the ocean, Porcelain blue brings a touch of tranquility into your living space.

After years of minimalist whites, blacks and greys being the in-thing, interior design experts are predicting that 2020 is the decade when homeowners once again take the bold step to reintroduce color into their homes.

While some may prefer those colors to be rich, bold and powerful, we can’t help but believe that something a little cooler and calmer is the way to go. That’s why we were so taken with this Santorini Blue from Jollie Paint, a heady cocktail of alluring cobalt blue and moody, ink blue that brings a certain sense of serenity to any space.

Conjuring forth images of a relaxed, mediterranean island, this is the perfect color for that one room in your home set aside for escaping the stresses and pressures of day-to-day living.

Jollie Paint Santorini Blue Summary

Type: matte

Volume: 32 ounces

1st coat drying time: 30 minutes

2nd coat drying time:  30 minutes

We love it because: It’s inspired by nature, bringing a calm, relaxing ambiance to any room.

Retique It Liquid Wood


Made from almost 70% real natural wood, Retique It Liquid adds an authentic wood-like finish to any surface.

Easily the most unique product on our list, Retique It Liquid Wood adds a striking, real wood finish to any surface, including stone wall, plaster, plastic, metal, and canvas.

A versatile paint if ever there was one, it also works well on other wooden surfaces, which means that it is just as helpful for getting dealing with scuffs on wooden furniture as it is for completing transforming a room, a door, or those tired, old kitchen cabinets, creating a beautiful, natural look that is practically indistinguishable from genuine wood.

Made from 66% real wood, this all-natural Liquid Wood is completely chemical-free, so you don’t have to worry about those toxic VOCs stinking the place out and giving you a headache.

Retique It Liquid Wood Summary

Type: Water-Based

Volume: 32 oz.

1st coat drying time: 2 hours

2nd coat drying time: 2 hours

We love it because: It makes any surface look like natural wood. It’s also very easy to clean with just soap and water.

KILZ Original Interior Primer

When starting a new paint job, it can be all too easy to pick up any old primer and slap it on the wall without a second thought.

Tempting though that maybe, it’s hardly advisable.

With a poor quality primer, there’s always the chance that it won’t adhere to a particular surface, or that it won’t smooth over blemishes and imperfections to create the kind of flat, flawless surface you were hoping for.

With KILZ Original Interior Oil-Based Primer, there’s no such risk.

It’s specifically designed to stick well to virtually any surface, all while blocking moisture, smoke damage and other things that could otherwise tarnish a perfect undercoat.

Best of all, it rivals Rust-Oleum’s Interior Chalked Paint with a dry-to-touch time of just thirty minutes, making it a great choice for those jobs where time is of the essence.

KILZ Original Interior Primer Summary

Type: Oil-Based

Volume: 1 quart

1st coat drying time: 30 minutes

2nd coat drying time: 1 hour

We love it because: It works on almost anything, taking surfaces that previously un-paintable surfaces and making them usable.

Interior Paint 2020 Buyer’s Guide

With countless Pinterest boards, interior design magazines and home makeover shows, there’s an endless source of inspiration out there to help you find the right color for the right room, but the truth is that shade selection is only half the battle when it comes to choosing the best interior paint.

There are many other important factors to consider, including:

Choosing the Right Paint Formula


Latex paints are easier to clean off your brushes than their oil-based counterparts, usually requiring nothing more than soap and water.

For some first-time home decorators, it can come as something of a surprise to discover that not all interior paints are made equal.

Manufacturers utilize a variety of different paint formulas, some of which are usually better suited to certain environments than others. So, when it comes to painting your home, it’s worth paying attention to the different formulas and carefully selecting an option that best meets your exact needs.

Latex

There are a few good reasons why latex paints such as acrylics and water-based varieties are so popular:

They’re the most versatile, the least toxic, and the easiest to use.

Latex-based paint can be used on almost all interior surfaces, though you may find that you have trouble getting it to stick on walls previously coated with an oil-based paint.

What’s more, it dries quickly, doesn’t crack or fade when it comes into contact with direct sunlight, and you can easily clean it up with nothing more than soap and water.

Though you may have your reasons for choosing an oil-based product, we definitely recommend considering whether an acrylic or water-based option could work instead.

Oil

Oil-based paints have a pretty poor reputation in DIY circles, mostly because they contain a high level of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) which are not only bad for the environment but which also emit a strong, unpleasant smell.

If you’ve ever been in a room where the paint smell is so strong it gives you a headache or makes you nauseous, it was probably an oil-based paint that you were smelling.

The other main criticism of oil paint is that it takes so long to dry.

Synthetic oil paint, better known as alkyd paint, can take up to six hours for a single coat to dry, while natural, linseed-based oil paint can take anywhere from 8 to 24 hours.

So, if it really is so bad, why does anybody bother to use it?

The simple answer is that oil-based paint still has its advantages.

That lengthy drying time results in a smoother, richer finish, often removing the need for additional coats. It’s thick, durable nature also means that it continues to look good in areas which collect a lot of moisture, making it a popular choice for bathrooms and kitchen areas.

If you do decide to use oil-based paint, ensure that the room is properly ventilated and wear a mask to protect yourself from those noxious fumes. You should also keep a bottle of turpentine which you’ll find essential for washing your brushes or cleaning up any spillages.

Types of Paint Finishes


Applying a satin or eggshell finish to a whole room is a great way to create a soft, subtle feel with minimal shine.

Along with the formula, it’s also important to consider the type of finish as this will play a big part in how your room looks once that fresh coat of paint has dried.

Flat or Matt

Using a flat or matte paint creates an even, non-reflective surface which makes them great for smoothing over irregular surfaces and hiding blemishes such as nail holes or rough patches.

It’s for this reason that many home renovators choose this finish for their ceilings, though a matte finish can create a rich, vibrant finish when used on walls.

Eggshell

By far one of the most popular paint finishes around, eggshell offers a soft, smooth finish with low reflectivity, not unlike an actual eggshell.

An ideal choice for mid-traffic areas like living spaces, family rooms and bedrooms, eggshell works best on walls that are free from damaged patches or other blemishes.

Once applied, it is much easier to clean than a flat or matte finish, and will do a solid job of resisting stains and scuffs once applied.

Satin

Giving eggshell a run for its money as the most commonly used finish, satin offers a mildly reflective, soft sheen that makes it a great choice for accentuating room features like window and door frames.

Satin does well in areas with lots of moisture, making it a  popular choice for areas such as kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry rooms, while its resistance to day-to-day scuffs and especially fingerprints mean it’s definitely worth considering if you’re painting a child’s bedroom, nursery, or playroom.

Semi-gloss

More reflective than a satin finish without the glistening look of a high-gloss option, semi-gloss creates a shiny, lustrous finish.

The one drawback to semi-gloss is that it does reveal imperfections like bumps, holes, and uneven patches, so it’s important that you make your surface as smooth as possible before taking out your paintbrush.

It’s for this reason that gloss paints are more commonly used on wooden household features such as doors and baseboards, though again, you might want to use a sander to smooth out any blemishes first.

High-gloss

The shiniest paint finish of all, high-gloss is often described as ‘glass-like’ for its sleek, highly reflective finish.

While that does mean that this one is a little too for walls and other large surfaces, it does add a beautiful touch to panel doors, cabinets, baseboards, handrails, and similar features.

Both semi-gloss and high-gloss finishes require more coats than their less-glossy counterparts, but the results are usually stunning.

Choosing Primers and Bonders Before Painting Your Home


Adding a coat of primer can help your paint stick to the wall and smooth out any imperfections. 

Not all paints and surfaces go together in perfect harmony.

In some cases, it may be that when you apply that first coat, it soaks directly into the wall, creating an unsightly finish that is nowhere near the color you were hoping for.

In others, it could be that knots, bumps, mold stains, and other blemishes stick out from the paint layer to create a rough, uneven look.

Either way, the end result means you need to go over that first coat multiple times before you get anything close to achieving the kind of smooth, rich finish you want, and even then it may still be far less than perfect.

This is where a good coat or two of primer paint really comes into its own.

Good quality primer smooths over any imperfections in your wall to create a smooth, flat base on which to apply your paint coat, resulting in an even, consistent finish.

Most primers are plain white, though other neutral colors are available. This ensures that when you apply the color, it isn’t tarnished by the original surface and comes out looking as close to the color on the tin as possible.

Bonders work in a similar fashion, though these are typically used in cases where the paint is incompatible with the surface.

Let’s say you pick up an acrylic paint but find that, for whatever reason, it just doesn’t stick to the wall properly. A bonding paint like Benjamin Moore’s Corotech Bonding Primer helps the two work together without cracking or flaking.

Frequently Asked Questions About Interior Paint

Should I mix Paints?

As the old saying goes, just because you can, that doesn’t mean you should.

Sure, experienced DIYers and professional interior decorators may mix their own paints to create all kinds of stunning, unique looks, but unless you know exactly what you’re doing, the results can be pretty disastrous.

Paints that are vastly different from one another rarely mix well, often creating separate, spoiled layers, neither of which look anything like the kind of color you were going for.

Keep in mind too that different brands use their own unique formulas, and combining two different brands can often result in lumpy, uneven paint that doesn’t look good at all.

If you really are keen to mix your own interior paints, you’ll find it helpful to use paints that are not only from the same brand but are of the same type.

In other words, if you’re planning to use up that leftover latex paint, ensure you mix it with another can of latex paint rather than a Low-VOC or oil solution.

It’s also worth noting that many DIY stores offer their own professional paint mixing service. If you’re not 100% confident with mixing your own, this might be a better option to help you get the shade you’re looking for with none of the risks involved.

How Long Will Interior Paint Last?

A can of latex paint can last up to ten years providing that it is never opened and kept in suitable conditions. Once opened, leftover paints should be good for another two years as long as they’re kept in a tightly-sealed container that is stored in a cool, dry place.

Once that paint is applied to your walls, you’re likely to get more than your money’s worth out of it.

As a general rule, a well-done interior paint job should last somewhere between seven and ten years before it starts to depreciate.

However, with a little regular TLC, it’s possible to keep those beautifully painted walls looking at their best for much longer

Top Tips for Making Your Interior Paint Job Last Longer

To protect your hard work for years to come, it pays to properly prepare. Ensure that any drywall repairs are taken care of before you paint, and use a good quality prime.

Once the paint dries, take the time to wash and dust your walls regularly. Even taking a few minutes to go over the walls with a microfiber dust cloth to get rid of dust can go a long way in protecting your paint job.

Finally, be sure to use proper window treatments like curtains or roller sheet blinds as too much direct sunlight can cause your paint to fade.

Can I Use Interior Paint Outside?

Though possible, it’s certainly not advisable.

If you’re painting your garden walls or revamping your patio space, you’ll find that interior paint doesn’t react too well with the elements.

Interior paint isn’t built to withstand lots of moisture, so too much rain or snow can really damage the paint quality, while lots of direct sunlight can cause some noticeable fading.

If you do want to use any leftover paint in your outdoor spaces, you’ll get the best results by combining it with a coat of strong varnish or some other protective layer to help it withstand the weather.

A Final Word About Volatile organic compounds (VOCs)

Faced with increasing pressure to produce less damaging products, many paint manufacturers have taken great strides to reduce -if not entirely eliminate- VOCs from their paints, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some varieties out there that still contain them.

As we’ve already seen throughout this guide, oil-based paints tend to contain far more VOCs than acrylic and water-based brands but that’s not something you should take as a given.

Volatile organic compounds can cause everything from minor skin and eye irritations to more serious problems such as liver and kidney damage.

So, when choosing your interior paint, it always pays to look carefully at the label and ensure that you choose an option that is low -or preferably zero- levels of VOCs.

If you can’t tell one way or another, talking to the manufacturer or asking an assistant if you’re shopping in-store should help you select a paint that ensures you remain safe and healthy so that you can truly enjoy your new, freshly-painted home.

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