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Painting a perfect picture
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While every house is unique in its own way, most houses also share more than a few things in common. About as commonplace as a home with a front door is a home with white walls. Though inviting to some, white walls soon end up being replaced with more vibrant colors of paint or wallpaper.

Some homeowners approach painting as a relaxing way to spend a weekend. Others approach the project with a bit of trepidation, uncertain of just about everything that goes into painting, from how much to use to what color to choose to just how to go about it. For the latter group, perhaps a starter course on painting is in order.

Getting started

For some, the most daunting part about painting the interior of their home is how much paint to use. No one wants to use too little paint and then have "bald spots" that will force the project to be revisited once the paint is dry. Fortunately, figuring out the amount of paint you'll need is as simple as measuring the square footage of the room you'll be painting and then going by the numbers printed on the can of paint. Paint can labels list how much square footage each can contains, so simply match that number with your own measurements and you're on your way.

What type of paint?

First-time painters also are uncertain as to which type of paint to use. The two types of paint available are latex-based or oil-based paint. Each type has its advantages and disadvantages.

Latex-based: Also referred to as acrylic paint, latex-based paint can be used on virtually any surface, from walls to floors, even metal. It's also a favorite among first-timers because it's easier to clean. Latex-based paint mistakes can typically be cleaned with a little soap and water.


Oil-based paints have certain advantages over latex-based, namely that oil-based are stain-resistant (for those with young children) and adhere to walls and ceilings very well. However, cleaning up spills is far more difficult, often requiring a turpentine solution to clean both spills and brushes.

Am I finished?

Once you've chosen the type of paint and the color, you're not finished. That's because you need to choose the correct finish for the project. Fortunately, the type of finish often fits into a formula.

A flat finish, for instance, doesn't reflect light, so it's good for larger areas, such as ceilings or larger rooms like living rooms and bedrooms. Other rooms, such as bathrooms and kitchens, require a different finish.

In general, a semi-gloss finish is best for bathrooms and kitchens. Typically, these walls take the most abuse, getting dirtier because more people use them on a regular basis. A semi-gloss finish is easy to clean, making it ideal for rooms like the bathroom and kitchen and even doors throughout the house.

While semi-gloss finish mildly reflects light, a gloss finish strongly reflects light. That makes it perfect for smaller areas, like a wall's trim, but it's not ideal for larger areas.

Finally, satin or eggshell finish is also available, but should only be used in cases where you'll want to really brighten up an area or room. Parents of young children, for example, might want to use a satin or eggshell finish in their child's room to add light. Also, dark hallways can be brightened up as well with this type of finish.

Once you've made all these decisions, simply choose your tools and enjoy your foray into painting.