The most overwhelming part of any home painting work is usually the selection of the paint. There is color to consider, and composition – and sheen and base and binder levels and chipping resistance and temperature range, and before you know it, you’re more confused than you were when you started! But before you get too frustrated, there are some easy basics about house paint you can learn, remembering that you can always contact your local home painting company for detailed answers to your more specific questions.
The primary and most important distinction among house paints is made by their base, which signifies the vehicle for delivering the pigments, binding agents and other chemical components to the intended surface of your home. While oil paints tend to dry more slowly, smell more strongly, and withstand greater abrasion – the biggest reason for delineation is a very practical one: a water-based paint applied on top of an oil-based paint will require a primer coat in the middle, whereas an oil-based coat on top of a water-based coat will be fine. For this reason it is important to have a professional identify samples of old coats before beginning any repainting, so that you can be sure you are properly prepared for the job.
Many different varieties of water-based latex paint are available, but acrylic (often labeled “100% acrylic”) is perhaps the most popular. It features strong adhesion, quick drying, and a very low odor. Current acrylic paint also tends to hold color longer than older water-based solutions, and most brands now incorporate protective chemicals (such as anti-mildew agents) into their products. Acrylic paints have their drawbacks too – being less effective on older woods and stains, especially atop coats of oil-based preparations. Acrylic paints also have a greater tendency to show brush marks, as they have a reduced flow once applied. But while they will show their share of scuffs and dings, acrylic paints hold up tremendously well in adverse weather conditions once cured, making them an extremely popular choice for new work on home exteriors.
Alkyd, or oil-based paint is an older choice for home painting that has largely been replaced by latex and acrylic mixtures over the years. It’s most common use today is in older homes that have pre-existing oil-based treatments, as latex-on-oil painting requires primer work and still often yields less than spectacular results. Oil-based paint typically has a much stronger odor than its water-based counterparts, due to the higher number of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) they generally contain. Alkyd paints are typically harder, and more brittle than acrylics, meaning they have less stretch and flexibility while also demonstrating greater resistance to chips and dents. For this reason, they are still popular choices for running boards, doorframes, and other surfaces that receive a high amount of day-to-day physical abuse. Oil-based paints tend to struggle in more severe temperatures and weather conditions, and consequently are much less popular for exterior use.
Even once you have determined the basic paint type you will need, there is still plenty to consider and decide. It is generally best to consult with your local home painter or contractor in order to find the preparations and colors that will work best for your home’s needs. Modern technology allows painters to combine samples and create custom color palettes, and even mix new paint to match a previous coat on your home that has faded over time. Your home painter will also be an expert on clear finishes, glazes, wood stains, and other options you may not have even considered in your plans. Talk with the experts, and move forward on having a professional paint treatment provided for your home.