Types of Paint – Everything You Need to Know

In this guide we walk you through everything you need to know about the different types of paint. So the painting bug bit you and you’re interested in slapping a fresh coat of paint on a drab wall in need of some serious livening up. Or it could be any number of paint projects that are calling your name.

The more you ignore that voice, the louder it gets until you just can’t take it anymore. You have to do something. You have to paint. But it needs to look good.

It’s true that a good paint job involves a good technique. But it also boils down to having the right material in the first place. There are so many types of paint on the market not to mention colors.

While picking the right paint color is up to you, picking the right type of paint doesn’t have to be a solo venture. This guide will detail the different types of paint as well as the pros and cons of each.

By the end of this article, you’ll know the type of paint you need, the finish that best suits your space, and which to use in the different parts of your home.

First Things First – Start With Primer

What is a primer? It’s a special base coat that seals a surface. Primer serves the purpose of protecting the new paint color from lack of consistency or discoloration.

2.Primer in paint tray
Stir the bottom of the primer to reintegrate chemical separation. Pour the primer into a tray. Roll the brush back and forth to coat it well. Apply the primer to the walls.

It does this by preventing the old color or stains from popping through. Often white or grey, it comes in different finishes. You’ll want to match the finish with your type of paint.

For instance, you’ll use an oil-based primer for oil-based paint and a latex-based primer for latex-based paint. A high-hide primer will help you make a smooth transition from old dark wall color to one much lighter.

If you’re not making a huge jump in your color range, you can go for a two-in-one paint and primer combo. You can finish your project faster and avoid time-consuming touch-ups.

If you decide not to use a pre-mixed paint and primer combo, you can still add a little paint to your primer to achieve a flawless base for your paint job.

Different Types of Paints

There are several great paint options for you to select. Before you get your heart set on a particular color, it’s best to think about the needs of your space.

For instance, will you be painting in a high traffic area? If high traffic, you will need something that can be cleaned relatively easily. Will your paint be for the interior or exterior of your home? How durable does your painting need to be?

3.Confused woman
Buying paint is confusing. It’s okay if you don’t know which types of paint to get. With all of the options out there it isn’t as easy as choosing between a Snickers or Payday in the checkout line. All of the types of paint available are discussed below so you’ll know which one is best for your next big project. 

Is it easy to clean? These are just a few questions you’ll need to answer before settling on your paint of choice.

Oil-Based Paint

The reason people love oil-based paint is that it can be used on practically any surface. Plus, it has a rich finish and great durability. You can get it at a reasonable price.

It’s the type of paint that can last without showing signs of wear. As a result, you’ll be able to enjoy the beauty of your home for years.

Since it can handle the hard knocks of life quite well, it can be a great paint to put on your baseboards since they can get scuffed easily.

It pays to use oil-based paint for a number of reasons. Firstly, it gives off a beautiful gloss. Secondly, it is water-resistant.

However, it often doesn’t pay to use oil-based paint for several valid reasons. Firstly, it emits strong fumes. Secondly, it requires turpentine to remove paint from brushes. Thirdly, it takes longer to fix mistakes. Rust-Oleum Oil-Based Paint is a wonderful choice if oil-based paint is calling your name.

Chalkboard Paint

Using chalkboard paint is so much fun. It’s guaranteed to bring out your inner child. It turns boring everyday surfaces into a writing slate where you or your kids can write, doodle, and draw until your hands go limp.

Do a fun DIY paint project where you apply chalkboard paint to your little one’s dresser. Your child will love getting creative and scribbling on the chalkboard.

4.Chalkboard paint
Break apart some chalk and let your inner child or actual child cut loose. Let a child write the contents of her dresser on each drawer. Use chalkboard paint to schedule in fun for yourself with a personal “me-time board”.

Why not turn a beautifully framed mirror into your very own glam writing pad? You can buy this kind of paint pre-mixed or in a powder form. It’s easy to work with and not expensive.

It cleans up with soap and water. To apply it, opt for a foam roller over the large, wide rollers you normally use to paint your walls.

You’ll need to start with a smooth surface. Sanding it down will take care of that. Wipe away the remaining dust and start painting.

Chalkboard paint is great for a host of reasons. It only takes an hour to dry. You can write and draw on it. Plus, you can make changes quickly.

You can use it to educate children. Another perk is that children can use it for entertainment. Also, it stands up to high-moisture rooms because it is water-resistant.

But there are simply times when using chalkboard paint is not advantageous. If you don’t want to concern yourself with leftover brush marks then this paint is not for you.

If you’re low on cash, then pass on this paint because it does cost a bit more money. Also, chalk dust can trigger allergies. Plus, it requires three coats. Rust-Oleum’s Chalkboard paint is an excellent option.

Chalk Paint

This paint leaves a beautiful matte finish. It has a thick consistency and doesn’t drip like other paints. It’s a water-based paint so you don’t have to clean your brush with mineral spirits to remove unwanted paint.

5.Chalk Paint
Chalk paint is matte and comes in a variety of colors. It can range from pure white like you see here, or the deepest emerald green. You really have a variety of great color options.

Just clean the paint off with a little soap and water. The wonderful thing about chalk paint is that it eliminates the need for a primer. Well, in most cases it does.

There may be times when a coat or two of shellac is needed first to prevent water stains from showing through your finish. Even though you typically won’t need a primer, you will need to use a creme wax to seal the topcoat so that it’s durable.

Otherwise, the paint could chip. Also, creme wax will prevent unwanted stains. Chalk paint is absorbent so if you spill something on it, it will be hard to remove the stain if the creme wax wasn’t applied.

If you love the idea of working with paint that dries fast, is easy to distress, requires no sanding or priming and saves time, then this is the paint that will work for you.

However, there are some not so great characteristics of chalk paint that you may find unappealing. Firstly, it may re-liquefy when exposed to condensation.

Secondly, it is more expensive than other paints. Thirdly, it needs to be re-waxed every 3 years. Lastly, it takes a long time to cure. Rust-Oleum Chalked Ultra-Matte Paint is a brand I personally love.

Enamel paint

This gem is perfect for surfaces that need to be able to withstand rugged conditions. It’s durable so it can handle a fair amount of punishment.

It’s a great option for people to use on the outside of their homes. Enamel paint can handle the beating of the suns’ rays, strong wind gusts, and sheets of rain.

6.Enamel Paint
Outside paint jobs require a durable paint like enamel that can withstand the onslaughts of everyday elements. It has to do more than look good, it has to take the beating from battering winds and rains.

This is the type of paint you use on surfaces you want to protect. You can also use it on furniture. Use it on a table or chair in high traffic areas. The paint will dry to a rugged finish.

Why it pays to use enamel paint:

  • Covers minor imperfections well
  • Sticks better to dirty surfaces
  • Withstands damage

Why it doesn’t pay to use enamel paint:

  • Becomes brittle with age
  • Harder to get a smoother coat
  • Bad for the environment
  • Not breathable

Rust-Oleum Protective Enamel Paint is a high-quality enamel paint.


If you’re painting the exterior of your house this is the type of paint to use. Since it’s water-based, it’s easier to apply than oil-paint. Plus, it’s ready to repaint within one hour.

Although it does have a number of characteristics in common with water-based paint, latex paint is different. In some cases, latex-based paint contains chemicals.

Always check the label first before buying so you’ll know if your latex-based paint is 100% water-based and not full of chemicals. If you’re looking for the highest quality latex paint, you’ll want to stick with acrylic latex paint.

Additionally, it pays to use latex-based paint because it doesn’t make much mess or trap moisture. Plus, it dries quickly, is easy to apply, and easy to do touch-ups.

Yet, it does have some unappealing attributes. It may chip, turn yellow in time, and rust metal. Another downside is that you have to put in extra elbow grease and sand it between coats on woodwork.

Plus, it is not as durable as oil-based paint. Krylon Colormaxx Brush On Paint is a latex-based paint that gets amazing results.


This type of paint is very easy to use. Plus, you don’t have to wait for up to 24 hours for it to dry like you would with an oil-based paint.

7.Water Based Paint
Water-based paint is super easy to use and clean up. You’ll spend less time painting too. It’s the type of paint that’s great for walls and doorways in large rooms. 

If you need to knock out a project with lighting speed, then you’ll definitely want to go with water-based paint. You could even do multiple coats in one day.

Even if you make a mistake, you can fix it quickly by using a little soap and water. With all these advantages you might be seriously considering painting over your old oil-based paint job with water-based paint.

The problem with doing so is that it may have trouble sticking. Play it safe by washing the surface first.

Next, roughen it all over with a medium to smooth grit sandpaper. You want to make the surface clean, dry, and dull in order to keep the new coat from peeling.

Water-based paint has many appealing benefits. It is better for the environment. Also, it  cleans up easily with water. This paint doesn’t get mildew.

Plus, it doesn’t have a strong smell due to the low VOCs. Also, this jewel dries quickly. Plus, the lasting color that doesn’t yellow or fade in sunlight.

It needs zero pre-treatment and resists cracking. Another great perk is that it works on a variety of surfaces.

Yet, there are moments in life when it simply does not doesn’t pay to use water-based paint. If your car broke down and you’re facing a hefty repair bill, you might not be in the position to go ham on the most expensive paint.

Of the two most popular types of paint, water-based paint is more expensive than oil-based paint. Plus, it is not as long-lasting as oil-based paint. Varathane Water-Based Paint is just right for the job if water-based paint is what you’re learning toward.

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Paint Finishes to Consider

A paint’s finish is just as important as the type of paint you choose. It will help set the desired tone for your painting project be it a living room or a side table. Here are the various types of finishes you can select.


It reminds you of breakfast, doesn’t it? This nature-inspired finish strikes a lovely balance between matte and glossy.

8.Eggshell Finish
Eggshell is another type of paint that works very well in living rooms. Paint your walls with this beauty and enjoy its durability and low sheen.

If you’re lusting over a low-level sheen finish that’s durable, then this is your winner. This jewel is a step up from a matte finish.

Plus, it holds up well to washing. A simple cleaning with a wet cloth tends to do the trick. Eggshell is often used to paint the living rooms. It protects and looks good at the same time.

Each manufacturer has its own spin on how much sheen is in the mix. A perk of using this type of finish is that the amount of gloss in it makes it easy to clean painted walls and decorative areas with a damp cloth. Boomerang Eco-Friendly Interior Paint with an Eggshell Finish is a well-formulated choice.

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It looks just like it sounds – flat, so it lacks texture. There isn’t much reflective quality to this finish. Also, it isn’t very durable.

Since it’s prone to becoming damaged, it shouldn’t be used in busy parts of your house. This is not the type of finish you want to have in your kitchen, bathroom, or kid’s room. In addition to not being durable, it also doesn’t clean well.

Food splatters and smudged fingerprints are not easy to remove so a flat finish wouldn’t work in areas that tend to attract a certain level of chaos and mess. However, it is affordable which is always a good thing.

9.Flat Finish
Flat paint and little hands covered in dirt, paint, or food are not a good combination. It isn’t easy to clean this type of paint. Only use it in areas that won’t get much handling. 

If you have a part of your house that doesn’t see a ton of foot traffic like a formal dining room, or even better your ceiling, this type of finish would be perfect. General Finishes High Performance Water Based Topcoat has a beautiful flat finish.

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This type of finish is somewhat glossier than a flat finish. While they are similar, there are some rather small differences.

Matte is more durable than flat. Although it might not be the top choice for a lot of people, some will appreciate it for its ability to stand the test of time.

If you’re creative there are a number of ways you can use this type of finish in your home. Use it on your ceiling to save some dough.

It’s far easier to hide flaws with matte paint than with a glossy paint that highlights imperfections when the light hits them. Jolie Matte Finish Paint Is a fantastic option.

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High gloss

Of all the finishes this gem provides the most amazing high octane shine. If you’re looking to glam up wood trim and molding, this beauty is just what you need. This finish brings the bling big time.

Not only is it easier to clean, but it adds a sophisticated look to your space. High gloss is very scrubbable and stain-resistant. As a result, it’s super easy to clean. Who doesn’t love that?

It’ll make your cleaning up days so much easier. It can be a great choice for banisters and railings. Although, it is easy to clean it does come with a steeper price tag.

10.High gloss Finish
Kitchen cabinets are a perfect place to put high gloss paint. Don’t worry about food splatters or dents and dings with this finish. It is resistant to stains and is super easy to clean. This means that if you want to go with a light color you don’t have to worry about it looking dingy over time. Your whites will stay white with this gem.

Plus, the high shine means that imperfections are easier to spot. Save this type of finish for walls. This durable paint option will provide a look that is both classy and appealing.

Your walls will definitely stand out when they’ve been draped in a glossy finish. It isn’t just for your walls though.

This eye-catching gem can work well on a variety of objects. Feel free to paint your fireplace, furniture, and cabinets. Diamond Brite makes a beautiful paint with a high-gloss finish.

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Not just for sheets and cute tops, satin also describes a finish that is relatively matte. It gives off a smooth and velvety look. But you do have to be careful about how you clean it. While it can be washed, it should never be scrubbed.

Like a good mediator, it knows how to strike a good balance between opposing parties making it a practical and popular finish. It’s a lovely compromise between a flat finish and a high gloss one.

For this reason, satin is perfect for painting bedrooms, dining rooms, and hallways. It works well for any room in your house. It’s durable and will last for several years. Zinsser Satin Interior Paint is mold and mildew proof making it an incredible finish to use for your paint job.

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If you’re looking for something that reflects light well and can hold up to moisture, semi-gloss is the finish you want. Semi gloss paint can take a good scrubbing.

11.Semi gloss
Semi-gloss is perfect for areas like the bathroom. The high moisture environment of a bathroom is no match for semi gloss finish. Plus, cleaning on semi gloss paint is incredibly easy. You can scrub to your heart’s content without worrying about messing up the semi gloss paint.

That’s why semi gloss paint is often used in bathrooms, kitchens, and other high-traffic areas that require a more robust finish that can hold its own. The ability of semi gloss paint finish to handle wet environments means that the paint finish will appear more vibrant for a longer period of time.

You can also add semi-gloss paint to doors, trim, and baseboards. Since it dries to a hard finish, it would be an excellent paint to use on woodwork.

This is a durable paint finish that doesn’t disappoint in the longevity department. Plus, it’s lovely sheen creates a visually appealing look. This semi-gloss by General Finishes is divine.

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How to Make Your Own Paint

Why on earth would anyone bother making her own paint finish? It seems like such an unnecessary and bothersome undertaking. There are so many incredible varieties of paint options and colors that it barely seems logical to whip up a batch in your kitchen.

But there are actually some rather smart reasons for taking the do-it-yourself approach to the painting process. If you have a special place in your heart for working with acrylic paint finishes, then you know you can use it on anything that’s not greasy or too glossy.

That includes a variety of surfaces such as

  • brickwork
  • canvas
  • ceramics
  • degreased leather
  • metal
  • paper
  • wood

Acrylic paint finishes are often used in decorative painting techniques and faux finishes. Some great reasons to mix up a batch of your own acrylic paint include lower cost, better control, and lack of toxic chemicals.

12.Making paint
Get creative and whip up your own paint from scratch. You can even mix colors to come up with a uniquely custom look if it strikes your fancy. You’ll reduce waste and get to flex your ingenuity muscle.

You have the ability to only create what you need which means less waste. You get total creative license to determine the opacity and pigment to medium ratio.

Of course, you’ll need to take detailed notes and have precise measurements if you want to be able to duplicate your concoction later.

Also, if toxic chemicals are a big turnoff to you, use earth pigments to ensure your paint is all-natural and pure. Plus, it’s cheaper than buying a bucket of ready-made paint from the supply store.

Supplies You’ll Need:

  • Acrylic medium
  • Dust mask
  • Dry pigments
  • Metal spatula that bends
  • Pipette/dropper
  • Water

Now for the fun part – the mixing. Here’s how to do it.


  1. Put on your dust mask.
  2. Gather your pigments.
  3. Mix the dry pigments with a small amount of water using the dropper/pipette.
  4. Blend until you get as many lumps out as is possible (including tiny ones).
  5. Add your acrylic medium. It should be twice the amount of the pigment mix.
  6. Work out any remaining grains of pigment with the metal spatula.

This is a good way to test the waters of making your own paint. It’s just small enough to help you get your feet wet so you can decide if this is the kind of project you’d like to expand on for bigger projects.

Just make sure that you grind the pigment well. Otherwise, those pesky little granules will show up on your painted surface. They’ll also come alive when you brush more layers of paint over them which will result in not so adorable lines of unintended color.

Another perk of using your own paint is that the pigments will last forever. They’ll just sit patiently in a corner somewhere waiting for you to get hit with a divine flash of painting inspiration so they can be put to good use again.

Whether you make your own paint finishes or go the traditional route and buy paint from a supply store, you can rest easy knowing that with the right types of paint finishes you’ll be on the right track to creating a masterpiece that you’ll be able to enjoy for years to come. Happy painting!

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