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Choosing the Right Paint

(ARA) - You’ve picked out a color, purchased brushes and rollers and are ready to decorate several rooms in the house with a fresh coat of paint.

But how do you know which surface calls for latex rather than oil-based paint? A semi-gloss finish instead of eggshell or flat? And does it even matter?

“Whether you choose latex or oil-based, semi-gloss or flat, the right paint and sheen level make a difference in both the decor and maintenance of a room,” says Lou Manfredini, national home improvement expert and Ace Hardware’s “Helpful Hardware Man.”

Following is a quick “primer” of the different choices in paint you’ll find at the local hardware store: Latex versus Oil-Based (Alkyd) Paint

The first step is deciding between the two most popular types of paint resins: latex or oil-based. The popular choice when painting interior surfaces such as walls and ceilings is latex -- it’s water-based and durable, dries fast, is low in odor, applies easily with a brush or roller and cleans up with soap and water.

Oil-based paint, also called alkyd paint, goes on smoother and resists wear and tear in the long term better than latex. However, it also tends to have a stronger odor, takes longer to dry and must be cleaned up with a solvent such as paint thinner.

Levels of Sheen

Both latex and oil-based paints are available in a variety of different glosses, which determines the luster or shininess of dry paint. The sheen of paint also determines its ability to hide flaws and how easy it is to clean.

Eggshell and Satin Finishes

Try an eggshell or satin paint finish in rooms the family uses most frequently, such as kitchens, bathrooms, children’s bedrooms, hallways and the garage. “Eggshell and satin finishes offer subtle sheen on walls, are very durable, and make clean up a snap,” Manfredini adds.

Semi-gloss Finishes


Semi-gloss finishes are great on kitchen cabinets, the front door, banisters, railings and windowsills and work great at highlighting details in trim and decorative molding. Semi-glosses can be used in children’s rooms and on doors, woodwork or trim. They also are great in bathrooms, where high levels of moisture are prevalent.

Flat Finishes

“If your wall is nicked or marred with dents, you’d be better off selecting a paint with a lower level of sheen,” Manfredini recommends. “Flat paints have very little sheen to no shine and do the best job of hiding surface imperfections.”

With nearly all flat paints, stain removal can be more difficult, so flat paint is usually used in areas that require little or no washing, such as ceilings or in closets, adult bedrooms and formal living rooms and dining rooms.

However, if you’re searching for a rich-looking flat paint with the washability of a semi-gloss, there is a new paint product on the market that actually resists stains. Ace Sensations with Scotchgard Protector is the first premium acrylic latex flat paint that resists common household stains such as coffee, grape juice and even hard-to-remove oily spots made by lipstick and grease. These stains, as well as dirt and grime, simply wash off the wall with soap and water.

One last tip to consider: Painting a white color onto an already white ceiling can be a challenge for even the most experienced painting pro. To take the guesswork out of painting ceilings, consider a product like Ace’s Simply Magic Ceiling Paint, which uses a special chemical additive to brush on blue but dries pure white. The blue color makes it easy to apply paint evenly, and transforms into a pure white matte finish within 24 hours.

For more expert painting advice from the “Helpful Hardware Man” himself, log on to www.acehardware.com and click on “The Helpful Hardware Man’s Corner.” Simply e-mail your home improvement question and Manfredini will send you a personal response within 48 hours whenever possible.

Courtesy of ARA Content

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