Articles Interior Design Choosing the right paint for the different parts of your home

Choosing the right paint for the different parts of your home

Tools and finishing are just as important as colors when choosing the right paints to use in your home. Here's a quick guide to making things simpler for you.

Got it in your head that your walls — maybe ceilings — need a makeover? Maybe you've been waking up to the same yellow walls and need a restart, or that trendy millenial pink in your living room no longer sparks joy. Whatever your reason may be, you're definitely thinking about changing up your space and what better (and cheap) way to do it than to use some paint.

Assorted paints in different colors and paint brushes on top of a dirtied canvas

Let's start with the color.

When choosing paint, most homeowners will just focus on picking out the right colors for their personal spaces. That is because people are visually-driven creatures and colors are usually the first thing the eye picks up. In addition to this, colors and shades are known to represent certain aesthetics and emotions that work differently per room in the house.

Color psychology is the idea that colors have a way of influencing our moods and perception - like yellow making us feel happy and energized while black exudes drama and has a certain edge. In this regard, designers and decorators often look to what colors usually mean when they design and decorate a space.

Green is a natural hue that represents serenity and rest, which means it's perfect for a bedroom or a reading nook where you want a peaceful atmosphere across. On the flipside, reds exude excitement and energy, which means red works best in an entryway which guests first see when they enter your space. A rule of thumb would be that warmer colors in the spectrum are effective in social spaces like the living room and kitchen, while cooler tones like blues and greens perform best in private spaces like the bedroom and home office.

Aside from picking out the color, designers and homeowners also have to identify the right shades for the space. Purples, for example, can vary from the light lavender to the deep violets - which work well in different settings. Lighter lilacs are pretty in the bedroom while darker violets scream sophistication in a room where you can attend to your guests. The same can be said about the different shades of white - with warmer whites faring well in rooms that receive natural light like the living space while cooler whites act best in private suites like the bathroom.

Bird's eye view of paint spray bottles in different colors

What's your type?

Colors are crucial in choosing the right paints, but so is type. Paints can be classified in terms of use (interior vs. exterior paints) and composition (like latex, acrylic, enamel). The difference between interior and exterior paints is pretty simple - it's all about the resins and additives. Because exterior paint is used, well, outside the home, it has to be made with flexible resins that can resist temperature changes and water damage, as well as with additives that adhere better to rough surfaces and that are formulated to resist fading. Interior paints are formulated to resist scuffing and be easily cleaned with simple soap and water.

For composition, paints are usually either oil-based or water-based (also known as latex.) Oil-based paints dry harder and are generally more durable than their water counterparts, not to mention have better coverage. On the other hand, latex paints are better for novice painters as the formulation is thinner and can easily be cleaned up. Latex is also better for the environment as oil-based paints like enamel use petrochemical solvents in their formula.

Paint roller with blue paint on half-painted white wall

Picking out the tools is just as important as picking out the paints.

Once you've figured out your colors and paint type, you can start to pick up paint tools that match your previous choices. Regardless of paint, you are going to need a plastic bucket and tool tray so you have a place to put your dipped brushes or rollers, as well as sturdy drop cloths and painter's tape to keep your work clean.

In terms of brushes, you will want to pick up stiff brushes with tapered bristles if you're using oil-based paints. Latex paints are less demanding and can be applied using synthetic core rollers (for the majority of your walls) and smaller, precision brushes for painting trim and cutting in.

Equally important are prep tools. Even the best and most expensive paints have zero chance of shining when placed on a walls that has not been prepped nor cleaned. A wall cleaner is a crucial addition to your toolbox, as well as sanding sponges. Pre-mixed spackling will do wonders in spots with nail holes and small gaps; for larger holes, try fiber-mesh tape.

Black accent wall in modern style living room

Time to finish it off.

All paints have a finish — aka the shine or gloss quality of a particular paint. In simpler terms, paint finishes range along a scale of zero gloss to extremely high gloss. Matte and flat paints have no gloss to them, and are usually used for interior ceilings or rooms that don't get much physical action like the office or a guest bedroom. This is because flat paints are much harder to clean and are quick to show off grime that builds on the walls. On the other hand, no-gloss matte paints usually come out really smooth, and are great for masking blemishes and imperfections in walls.

Eggshell and satin are next on the scale, and have a bit of gloss in them. Eggshell is slightly less glossy than satin, and is possibly the widely used paint finish in interior wall painting. That tiny bit of reflection brings in light into a space without being overwhelming. Satin, on the other hand, is popular in areas like the family room or children's playroom because its slightly-glossy finish allows for easy cleaning and touch-ups.

Semi-gloss and fully-glossy paints are too shiny for most interior walls, but are excellent for doors, cabinets, and trims since they reflect a lot of light and are extremely tough against water damage and grime.

Paint is a relatively inexpensive yet effective way of sprucing up your space, and is surprisingly easy with a very small learning curve. The fact that's it's only semi-permanent means that you can test out as many colors and finishes as you want, so long as you have the time to clean your walls and prime them before repainting.

Otherwise, the only hack you need is to figure out which paint color, type, and finish you need for whichever part of your home you're planning to beautify, as well as which tools you want to use, before making any purchases. Happy painting!