icon 10 Different Types of Paint to Use on Interior Walls

10 Different Types of Paint to Use on Interior Walls

Ready to give your home a new look but intimidated by all the different bases and sheens? There's much more to choosing paint than just picking your perfect shade. 

Once you've got your dream paint colors picked out, you'll have to choose a paint base. You'll also need to decide which paint sheen is perfect for your home improvement project.

Can of white paint with a paint brush sitting on it.  The can of paint is sitting on the floor on newspapers.

Much like the paint used for fine art, interior paints come in various types depending on what is used to bind the paint.

These are usually either oil-based or water-based, but there are different varieties of each option.

This article will break down the different types of paint and help you learn the difference between your semi-gloss paints and your eggshell sheen.

1. Oil-Based Paint

Oil-based paints are made up of a certain kind of oil, either organic or synthetic.

Cheaper than the water-based alternative, oil-based paint is a cost-effective way to get a rich finish for your interior walls. It is durable and long-lasting, making it perfect for high traffic areas in your home, like baseboards and door frames.

The downside to oil-based interior paint is that it is very slow to dry and much harder to clean up than water-based alternatives. If you want a quick project, oil-based isn't your best option since it can take up to 24 hours for one coat to dry.

Brushes also have to be cleaned with mineral spirits like turpentine, and the paint gives off stronger fumes than other variations.  

2. Water-Based Paint

Water-based paint is more expensive than oil paint, but it's much easier to use. You can finish your interior projects much more quickly, and clean-up is a breeze — no turpentine required. 

Man bending down to get yellow paint on a roller to paint a wall.

You can apply multiple coats in a day, and water-based paint is fade and crack-resistant. It also contains fewer VOCs — Volatile Organic Compounds — than oil-based paints so that it won't have as strong of a smell. 

While it isn't as durable as oil-based alternatives, for many, its ease of use makes it the perfect choice. 

3. Enamel-Based Paint

Enamel-based paint is highly durable and protective. It's often used outdoors since it can weather the elements with ease. It can be either oil-based or water-based. 

Due to its durability, enamel-based paint could protect kitchen or bathroom cabinets or other areas in the house that need frequent cleaning and have heavy use.

It's much trickier to get a smooth, brush stroke-free finish with enamel. If you choose an enamel-based option, you have to be extra careful when applying the paint. 

4. Chalk Paint

Chalk paint is a type of paint that's had a surge in popularity over the last few years. It's mostly used to paint furniture and give it a cosmetic upgrade.

Chalk paint dries ultra-matte and is very saturated, so it often doesn't need a primer to produce vibrant color. It's also water-based, so clean-up is simple and convenient.

The downsides that come with chalk paint mean it might be better used only as an accent on low-traffic areas. It needs to be sealed with creme wax to become water repellent. Without wax, it will stain incredibly easily and be very hard to clean. 

Chalk-painted surfaces should also be re-waxed every three years. 

5. Primer

Primer is applied over an old layer of wall paint to give yourself a blank canvas for your new paint color. It helps hide the old paint color and makes your new paint job appear more vibrant. 

Sherwin Williams Can of Multipurpose Primer

Image courtesy of Sherwin Williams

Paint primer comes in different bases, just like other kinds of paint. The rule of thumb is to use an oil-based primer for oil-based paint and a water-based primer for water-based paint.

There are different levels of coverage that they offer — if you're painting a new color over a dark wall, you might need a high hide primer to do the job. 

6. Flat or Matte Finish

There are many different paint finishes, and each one has a certain sheen that offers durability and style. These can range from a matte finish to a gloss finish.

One thing to keep in mind is that the glossier the paint, the more stain-resistant and washable it is. 

Wall with image of a roller painting the wall gray

Flat paint is completely non-reflective, meaning that light will bounce off of it less than other finishes. It's also the most highly pigmented paint finish. This leads to a rich, matte color. 

Matte finish paint is very similar to flat paint but slightly more reflective. Like flat paint, it can hide blemishes and texture differences in your walls. Matte paints give your walls a velvety, rich color. 

Both matte and flat finishes are the hardest to clean and the least stain-resistant of paint finishes. So keep them to more formal areas like the dining room and far away from kitchens, bathrooms, and kids' rooms. 

7. Eggshell Finish

Eggshell has a higher paint sheen than the flat and matte paint finishes. This makes it an ideal mix between the rich, velvety mattes and the durability of higher gloss paints. 

It's durable enough to use in higher traffic areas, like your living rooms or your bedroom, while still producing a non-reflective finish.

8. Satin Finish

One step up in gloss level from eggshell, satin finish paints are glossy and durable — much like their name suggests. They aren't overly shiny and still produce a rich color, so it's the perfect middle ground between color and shine. 

Bright green wall with a metal ladder in the bottom left corner

Satin paint is also durable and easy to clean, making it a versatile option for every room in the house.

9. Semi-Gloss Finish

Semi-gloss paints are high shine and very durable. They're very moisture resistant, so they make an excellent choice for rooms like kitchens and bathrooms that put up with a lot of moisture and humidity. 

They're also one of the easiest paint finishes to clean, making them a perfect choice for playrooms and nurseries. 

10. High-Gloss Finish

The glossiest of paint finishes, high-gloss paint, has a shiny sheen and can withstand a lot of wear and tear.

It's often used on baseboards, doorways, door jambs, and other details in your house that see a lot of traffic.

Ready for More Interior Design Inspiration?

Now that you know the different types of paint, you're more prepared to take on your home renovation journey, even if it's just a fresh pop of color on the walls. 

If you found this article helpful and are looking for more design ideas, check out the rest of the blog.

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