Paint: A Buyer’s Guide
Matte, gloss, semi-gloss, primer... Everything you need to know about transforming your room with a few brushstrokes.
1. The type of room
The type of room you’re painting is the determining factor in your choice of paint. A room that receives a lot of sun will require a paint that is resistant to fading or discolouration, while a bathroom, which normally has a high humidity level, requires a paint that protects against mould. For high-traffic areas, such as hallways and the kitchen, a paint that is easy to clean is essential.
2. The type of finish
The choice of paint finish is often an esthetic choice rather than a practical one, but it can make the difference between a surface that’s easy to clean and one that’s not. Generally speaking, the more glossy the finish is, the easier it is to clean.
An eggshell finish is a good option for kitchens and children’s bedrooms, as it is easily washable with a cloth and does not leave marks. This is a great option if your kids are prone to creating “works of art” on the wall or if you tend to get spaghetti sauce everywhere when cooking dinner!
A matte finish is ideal for walls that have imperfections, but it is difficult to clean. This finish is best suited for rooms that do not receive much traffic, such as an office, while semi-gloss and pearl finishes are best suited for smaller touches such as window and door frames. But be careful: paint roller strokes are very visible with a glossy paint.
3. A paint’s “covering power”
The quality of a paint brand is usually measured by its "covering" power, meaning the number of coats of paint required to cover a surface properly. The better quality brands usually require two coats of paint, the minimum for any room. Some of the lower-end brands, however, may require more than that.
Using a primer makes it easier to apply a coloured paint because it makes the surface uniform prior to painting, and it prepares the surface to receive the finishing coat. It is particularly useful when using dark or very bright colours.
4. Oil or latex
Latex paint has become much more common nowadays. However, be careful not to mix latex paint with oil paint. To know what kind of paint is already on a wall, soak a cloth in rubbing alcohol and lightly rub the wall. If the paint comes off, it is latex. There are paints that are specially designed to allow you to apply one type of paint over the other.
Choosing a paint colour is an important step, as its tone can dramatically change the mood of a room. It’s always a good idea to compare colour palettes by testing them at home in the room that will be painted, and by comparing it with your planned decoration items. This will help avoid unpleasant surprises once the room is furnished.
Reddish colours are much more difficult to apply: they may require up to five coats of paint, in addition to a primer. Choosing a shade of white can also be tricky: it’s better to ask for advice to ensure that the effect will be the one you want to achieve!