The Different Kinds of Paint and Their Usage

Latex Paint Characteristics & Usage

Thins with water: Spills, spatters, brushes, rollers, etc. cleaned with warm, soapy water.

Dries faster than oil base paints. Most can be re-coated within four hours.

Low odor. No solvent smell.

Easy to apply.

Use with nylon or polyester brush (not pure bristle), polyester or synthetic roller covers (not lambs wool) or flat applicators. (The natural bristles and lambs wool absorb water in the paint and become soggy.)

Has flat to high gloss range.

For interior or exterior use, depending upon product.

Latex paint can be applied over oil based paints. When painting over a semi-gloss or gloss surface, dull the old paint with sandpaper or a dulling solvent first.

Avoid using latex paints when surface is above ninety degrees or below forty five degrees. High temperatures may evaporate the paint too quickly and cause poor flow for an uneven finish. Low temperature may prevent it from forming a uniform film that will also create an uneven finish.

Check weather forecast to be sure that rain isn't expected before the latex paint has had a chance to set-about two to four hours.

Most latex paints can be stored for at least two years without the risk of deterioration. However, exposure to extremes of heat or cold may shorten the paint's storage life. Severe, prolonged or repeated exposure to freezing temperatures could cause separation in the can. Stir to bring back the correct consistency.

Oil Paint Characteristics

Thins with solvents such as mineral spirits or turpentine. Brushes, roller covers, and other tools to be cleaned with solvent, not water.

Dries slower than latex paint. Waiting overnight to re-coat is necessary.

Higher odor level than latex during application and drying.

Use pure bristle or polyester brush or lambs wool or polyester roller.

Has flat to high gloss range.

For interior and exterior use, depending upon product.

Varnish Characteristics

Solutions of resins in a drying oil. Contains little or no pigment.

Dries and hardens by evaporation of the volatile solvents, oxidation of the oil, or both.

Recommended for both outdoor and indoor applications where a hard, glossy finish is needed for weather protection.

Enamel Characteristics

Basically a varnish with pigments added. Same basic durability and toughness of a good varnish.

Produces easy-to-clean surface.

In proper formulation, can be used for interior and exterior. For the highest quality interior work, an undercoat is required.

Shellac Characteristics

Long-standing favorite for finishing wood floors, trim, and furniture.

Apply in dry, warm air to avoid clouding.

Dries dust free in fifteen to twenty minutes.

Can be used as a pre-staining wash coat to obtain even stain tone on porous or soft wood such as pine.

Can change tone of an already shellacked surface by tinting with alcohol-soluble aniline dye.

Instead of re-staining, pigmented shellac (also called shellac enamel) can be used as a sealant over stained finishes for a uniform, freshly-painted surface.

Sheen Characteristics

FLAT. Lusterless, non-shiny appearance. Most often used on interior walls, exterior body or walls of homes and commercial buildings, and associated with interior and exterior stains.

EGGSHELL. Slightly higher than "dead" flat. Is usually an enamel paint. Most often used on interior and exterior walls and on doors and trim.

LO-LUSTRE. Low sheen or "satin." Slightly higher than eggshell, but lower than full semi-gloss. Popular interior enamel sheen. Most often used in kitchens, baths, and on interior doors and trim as it's resistant to marking, easy to clean, and more washable than most flat latex.

SEMI-GLOSS. Midway between flat and high gloss. Associated with enamel paint and most often used in kitchens, interior doors and trim and exterior siding and trim. Very resistant to marking and easy to clean.

GLOSS/HIGH GLOSS. Very shiny appearance. Enamel paints. Used on interior and exterior surfaces. Popular for furniture, toys, floors, exterior doors and trim. Resists marking and easy to clean.

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