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Painting Tips & Tricks: Choosing the Right Paint

Paint SelectionsSelecting the correct paint for a job is often confusing, and it’s easy for homeowners to make mistakes. While it may not appear to make a difference—after all, many of the finishes look similar when applied—choosing the correct paint is crucial to achieving the desired performance.

For instance, some may not like the idea of having to wash their brush or painting tools in solvent or mineral spirits, and, therefore pick a latex or acrylic based paint that offers “quick water clean-up.” And the paint, once applied, looks fine. A problem may arise, however, if the latex or acrylic paint isn’t suitable for the surface or environment. When in doubt, always consult an expert. A quick check with the paint specialist at the local paint, hardware, or home center will provide the information you need to help you choose the right paint.

Whether your paint job is inside or outside your home, there are numerous options available, but one of your choices will be in deciding whether to use latex or alkyd/oil based paint. The list below provides some guidance, but your specific conditions or usage may vary. I recommend verifying your choice with an expert.

Ease of use and clean-up
Environmentally friendly
Adheres to galvanized metal
Quick dry time
Non-combustible and safer to use
Easier clean-up of spills
Resists mildew
Works well on masonry
Does not yellow with age
Adhesion on some surfaces not equal to oil
Subject to freezing when not dry
Less durable in high use areas
Poor adhesion to dirty surfaces
Less durable
More easily stained
Excellent adhesion to most surfaces
Less affected by low temperatures
Less shrinkage
Less affected by temperature
Seals over stains
Better rust prevention
Better adhesion on dirty/chalky surfaces
More difficult to apply
Strong odor
Longer drying time
Clean up requires solvent
Gets brittle over time
May yellow with age
Inability to “breathe” causes blisters
Susceptible to mildew
Harmful to the environment


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