Interestingly enough, one of the hardest things about painting a wall is choosing wall paint. Not necessarily the color (that's a whole different battle) but the type of paint that you'll be using. Latex and acrylic paints are made from acrylic resins, the main difference between the two is the bases that support these resins. Acrylic paints are chemical based and latex are water based. Generally, acrylic lasts longer than latex paint. Latex are used more in painting houses while acrylic are used more often in art projects. Oil based paints are seldom used in home painting.
Choosing the right paint comes down to where it's going to be installed. In high traffic areas you want durable paint. In bright spots you want less gloss to mask imperfections. In kitchens and bathrooms you want a paint that is resistant to moisture.
While it may sound like a lot to take in, choosing a paint really isn't that bad – but it is important to get the right type. Let's help you do that.
Latex or Oil Based?
A general rule of thumb that most people follow when choosing wall paint is latex (water-based) for the interior and oil-based for outdoors (especially on wood), anthough oil based paints are not commonly used anymore, as manufacturers are making more improved water based enames. Oil based paints are not a good option to be used outdoors as fluctuating temperatures causes the surface of the paint to shrink, resulting in paint peeling.
Latex paints have a bit more flexibility and are thus more resistant to cracking and chipping over the years. Latex paints bond well to flat surfaces, but that's the exact reason you don't use this type of paint outdoors on rough wood grains.
Homeowners also like latex paint better for indoors because it cleans up very easily with only water (oil-based requires solvents for cleaning). This includes after it's installed but also when cleaning up paint tools and accessories during the process. Latex paint also has low odor which is especially important when painting indoors during colder months when you can't open a window for circulation. Latex paint can also be thinned out with just water when painting with a spray gun.
Note: if you are painting indoor trim and moldings, try an oil-based primer to protect the wood and then use latex for the top coat for ease of cleaning and touching up.
What is Paint Finish?
Picking the right color for your walls and ceilings is only half the journey, then you have to figure out the desired finish. Paint finish is commonly referred to as sheen. The rule when choosing wall paint is that the higher the sheen the brighter the shine. What's confusing about that though is that a sheen isn't listed at a level like 1,2,3 or A, B,C but instead they each have their own name. Here are those sheen types in order from dullest to brightest.
The lowest level of sheen is known as flat and it has little to no reflection of light. Flat paint is generally recommended for walls where there are a lot of bumps, dents, and small holes because it does the best job of hiding these imperfections. Flat paint can easily be touched up because there is no shine to have to match but is also harder to clean up so it's perfect for ceilings.
Matte paint has just a bit more shine than flat making it slightly easier to clean. A minimal reflection of light does make the color 'pop' more than basic flat paint so matte would be more desirable in a master bedroom.
As the name implies, the finish of eggshell paint has a shine of, you guessed it, an eggshell. Once you get out of the flat and matte zone, you're starting to see some noticeable reflection of light starting with eggshell paints. The thing homeowners prefer about eggshell paint is that it's subtle – there in lighter areas but toned down in darker spots. This makes eggshell great for living and dining rooms.
The most popular type of paint finish is satin because it is durable yet still attractive. Lower sheen paints don't stand up well to high traffic but also are somewhat bland in appearance. Satin sits about right in the middle in both those categories. This makes it a great paint for kids rooms and on trim pieces.
A close second in popularity to satin finish paint is semi-gloss. Semi-gloss is extremely durable (the most 'scrubbable' finish) especially against moisture and humidity but also gives off a very bright appearance. Because of this semi-gloss is usually the go-to paint finish for hallways, bathrooms and kitchens.
The ironic thing about hi-gloss is that it's the most durable paint finish, but also really highlights any imperfections in a smooth wall. Proper surface preparation is extremely important when using a hi-gloss paint finish on walls. Hi-gloss does look great on features where imperfections aren't as noticeable such as on cabinets and interior woodwork.
What to Know About Exterior Paints?
Choosing wall paint for the interior depends on how bright you want the area to be and the type of destruction the painted section is going to have to withstand. For the exterior you want to go with a durable coating that will protect the surface below from harsh weather.
You can determine whether the existing paint is oil-based or latex by peeling off a chip. If you can bend the paint scraping it's likely latex. If it breaks immediately it's probably oil based. Paint can also be tested for whether it's oil-based or latex at your local paint store. If the existing paint is oil based, it’s better to convert into water based paint, but be sure to use an ouil based primer when converting to water based paint.
So wait, people have painted with latex on the exterior? Actually yes but if you are going to paint outside make sure it's the exterior latex and not one formulated for inside walls. Acrylic latex is very durable and is more resistant to fading. Some painters use acrylic latex over surfaces such as vinyl siding or masonry. If you are using acrylic latex on a wall though, make sure not to paint over oil-based paint or the top coat will almost assuredly start to peel within a very short time.
The two most common (almost 100%) types of finish for exterior paints are low sheen and semi gloss.
Flat has no gloss where satin has low-gloss with some reflection. Flat may be the better choice for a rookie painter because it does a better job of hiding brush strokes. Sheen does clean better though and is more preferable where algae may grow or mud will get splashed.
So, not an incredible amount of info to digest about choosing wall paint. When it comes to getting a partner to agree on the actual color well that’s a different guide entirely.
Recommended Paint Brands
Dulux Wash and Wear
When it comes to durable paint, Dulux Wash and Wear is the clear leader. It’s formulated with a super touch acrylic finish, making it more durable than other paints. Most common stains and marks can be easily wiped away with a wet cloth, making Dulux Wash and Wear perfect in a house with kids or pets.
Dulux Weathershield Paint is a premium quality, self-priming acrylic paint used mainly for exterior walls/surfaces, but can be used on interior walls as well. Weathershield uses MaxiFlex stretch technology to create a tough and flexible finish, giving it long lasting protection against the harsh Australian weather conditions.
Flood Spa n Deck
This truly remarkable exterior wood finish that’s tough, durable and can be applied while wood is still wet, making it a dream to work with.
Flood Spa n Deck is 100% acrylic, it’s as tough as you can get, making it perfect for wood applications that will need to stand up against a lot of wear and tear. It comes in 6 different colours, so there’s a nice range of colours to work with for your project.