Which Type Of Paint Should I Use?

A world without color is a dreary world at best.

Paint allows us to change the natural color of any material to fit our aesthetic needs, but with so many different types of paints, it can be very easy to go wrong.

Today we will talk about the different types of paints and their appropriate usage.

Before or after you read our blog, we highly encourage you to read our blog on VOCs and indoor air quality. The paint you choose will have a massive impact on your health and the members of your home. We highly recommend choosing Greenguard Gold certified paint, the ONLY type of paint that TR Design Build uses, to increase your indoor air quality.

Oil-based vs. Water-Based

In the simplest form, the main difference between oil-based and water-based paint is the main ingredient; it’s either water or a type of oil.


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Oil-based paint is better when used on surfaces that will take a beating, such as window/door trims, exterior surfaces, and doors. Be sure to purchase a brush or paint roller that is specifically designed to be used with oil-based products.

Oil-based paint characteristics:

  • Longer drying and curing periods
  • Usually a smoother and more appealing finish
  • Requires the use of harsh chemicals when cleaning brushes or rollers (paint thinner)
  • Stain blocking and water resistant
  • Very durable; lasts longer than its counterpart, water-based paint

Because there are recent movements to ban oil-based paint in parts all over America, water-based paint has become a more popular option, especially when painting the interior of your home. When opting for a water-based paint over an oil-based paint, you are trading durability for user-friendliness.

Water-based paint characteristics:

  • Not as resilient or long lasting
  • Cleaning rollers and brushes doesn’t require harsh chemicals
  • Shorter drying period
  • Carry less of an odor
  • Low VOC’s


It’s important to note that primer is not the final coat that you’ll see; it’s the paint that is applied to surfaces before applying your desired paint color. Primer provides better adhesion and seals the surface of the wall, adding durability and longevity to your new paint.

Applying a coat or two of primer before painting is highly encouraged if you’re looking for good results. When painting an already painted surface that has a different shade of paint than the one you’re looking to apply, applying primer prior to painting will allow you to use less paint to cover up the old surface.


Painting Wall


Primer is always recommended when painting new, clean, unpainted surfaces. According to the Chief Solutionist of ALLBRiGHT, oil-based primer can be used with oil-based and water-based paint, while water-based primer can only be used with water-based paint.

Paint Sheen

Paints come with different sheens, or shininess. Less glossy paints are often called names like matte or flat. These paints slightly differ in sheen, but overall, they do a great job of hiding imperfections. Low gloss paints are recommended for ceilings; they work better for surfaces not frequently touched since they do not clean well (you could end up rubbing off the paint).

For a smoother look, eggshell paint, and its slightly glossier friend satin paint, are often the main choice for living rooms, bedrooms, and hallways. They are slightly glossier and clean very well, having higher durability than matte or flat paint. These paints excel on frequently touched surfaces.

If you want a shiny or reflective sheen, these next two sheens are the ones for you. Semi-gloss and gloss paints are more expensive but work well in wet rooms such as kitchens and bathrooms; they also work great on baseboards, casings, hand railings, and doors. Semi-gloss and gloss paints are extremely easy to clean without the fear of damaging your paint. One drawback to these types of paints is they do a poor job of hiding imperfections since they are so shiny and eye catching.

Latex Paint

If you come across paint with the name latex, it’s probably referring to “acrylic latex”; this means instead of rubber, it contains a plastic resin made of acrylics or polyvinyl.


  • Dries quicker than oil-based paints
  • Great when trying to cover an already-painted surface.
  • Can be used on unprimed drywall or unpainted masonry
  • No harsh chemicals required when cleaning painting materials

Not only do harsh cleaning chemicals present health problems if inhaled or handled, they’re hazardous if not stored properly.


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  • Rusts bare steel
  • Raises the grain when used on wood
  • Poor adhesion to high gloss finishes
  • Sometimes peels wallpaper from the wall

Enamel Paint

In a broad context, enamel paint means any solvent-based paint that dries to a hard, glass-like shell (solvent-based paint = oil-based paint).


  • Mar-resistant
  • Holds color well
  • Resistant to yellowing
  • Hard, shell-like surface
  • Adheres to a wide variety of surfaces


  • Heavy, unpleasant odor
  • Harsh chemicals required for cleaning
  • Requires expertise/attention when mixing

Enamel paint main application comes when adding finishing coats or touch-ups to appliances, casings/moldings/trims, and furniture. Use enamel paint for projects requiring a glassy/glossy finish or high durability.



Excluding the different hues that exist, all the different types of paint alone can invoke decision paralysis. It’s important to know the different types of paint and their uses to ensure your paint is correct for your project, looks great, and will withstand the test of time.

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