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PaintToday, a host of latex, environmentally-friendly and low VOC paint and finish products rule our roosts, with sales in the billions of dollars yearly. Paint made from clay, bees wax, mineral dye, milk protein and more offer pleasant citrus fragrances while drying or some have no fragrance whatsoever.

There are two basic types of “finish” paint products available: oil or latex, and four types of “sheen” available: gloss, semi-gloss, flat and satin. Latex is by far the most popular due to its ease of use. Both products, however, have four components: water, pigment, binder and additives.

Latex is a simple paint to employ, as it cleans up with soap and water, dries quickly, and is less odorous. Also, is it less apt to blister, peel and crack because it allows moisture to evaporate through its surface. The best types of latex paints are comprised of 100% vinyl/acrylic resin and very little liquid. Less expensive latex paints contain more water and thus are less effective because the coverage is less dense. This can also mean that it will be more prone to fading and less resistant to dirt and stains.

Also consider that you may end up spending more time and money using cheaper paint, being you may have to apply two coats, versus the one you would need with a higher quality, thicker paint.

Oil paint, also known as alkyd, contains a strong binder made from vegetable oil and is best used in areas of high wear, such as door trim or cabinets, as it dries to a hard finish. The binder makes this type of paint difficult to clean up. A solvent, such as mineral spirits, is needed to clean painting equipment and spills.

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In regard to sheen levels, you will need to consider how much surface wear you expect to encounter. Flat paint offers a matte finish, which is good for hiding surface imperfections. It also absorbs light well and is typically used on ceilings and areas where cleaning is not an issue. Flat paint is for areas of light use, as it is not very durable.

Satin paint provides a soft, subtle sheen, similar to the shell of an egg. Also known as an eggshell, pearl or velvet finish, it is a good choice for areas with more use, such as hallways, children’s rooms and stairways.

Semi-gloss is a durable paint with high stain resistance, used primarily on wood trim or in rooms requiring some wall scrubbing, such as a bathroom or kitchen. It will draw attention due to its glossy appearance, which can be a drawback, as surface blemishes can be more visible. Semi-gloss can be a
good base coat for elaborately painted finishes, such as marbeling.

For areas that take a daily beating, such as a stairway banister, painted furniture, cabinets, steps and some areas of the kitchen, you can’t beat the gloss finish. It is good to note that the high gloss, while easy to scrub also displays surface imperfections, like nicks or scratches, more readily. Use gloss for a very slick, attention-capturing look. Gloss is not appropriate for walls, unless it is an area that will need repeated cleaning.

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