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Painting Guide: Types Of Paint and Where to Use Them

Painting Guide: Types Of Paint and Where to Use Them

When people think of painting their homes, they generally focus on what colours they’re going to use. This guide is not intended to help you pick colours – the colours you use depend heavily on your personal aesthetic. Here, we’re going to look at some of the different types of paint and where and how they should be applied. Note that this list is not exhaustive; there are thousands of different ways you can talk about paint. We’re going to focus on broad categories of paint and explore their utility.


Paint primers are used when it’s necessary to prepare a surface you’re about to paint before adding colour. Primers might be described as almost a cross between glue and paint – they adhere very well and create a uniform surface for you to paint on. Primers are particularly valuable when you’re going to paint porous surfaces or surfaces with stains.
Oil-Based Paints

You’ll also find primers useful when the colour you’re using to paint is drastically different than the colour that was painted on before. You can find primers specifically designed to tackle all of these tasks: stain-blocking primers for stains, tinted primers for drastic colour changes, and regular primers for porous surfaces.

There are paints that call themselves 2-in-1 Paint + Primer solutions; these paints go on a lot thicker than regular paint so they mitigate the need for primers. Be cautious because these paints might not do particularly well on some surfaces like those with bad staining or those that are warped in some way.

Latex (Water-Based) Paints

Latex paints are a broad category of incredibly versatile interior and exterior paints. These paints are often referred to as water-based paints to contrast them with oil-based paints. As they dry, the water in them evaporates, leaving a solid coat.

For some time, latex paints were seen as a user-friendly but less durable version of oil-based paints. But these days, because of a number of advancements in chemistry and paint manufacturing, latex paints have become incredibly durable, often giving oil-based paints a run for their money.

Water paints dry very rapidly, making them a favourite of homeowners who want to tackle painting their homes themselves. You can use them on your home’s interior or exterior, though you may want to use an oil-based paint on certain woods. Latex paint is often thinner than oil-based paints, making it ideal for areas with a lot of small grooves and divets. Should you decide to paint your interior, remember to cover every surface you don’t want to get paint on. Stain removal products aren’t perfect and you don’t want to put in extra work for no reason.

There’s a subgroup of latex paint that’s becoming popular in cold climates, especially those with many stucco exteriors. These paints are called elastomeric paints – they have a higher density of flexible latex that allows them to stretch as a building breathes, helping to prevent cracks. Winnipeg painting companies have begun to use elastomeric products for a number of different exteriors because the temperature regularly fluctuates between -40 and +30 degrees celsius in any given year – Winnipeg is a prime testing market for durable paints that move with a building.

Oil-Based Paints

Oil-Based Paints
Oil-based paints have fallen somewhat out of favour in recent years as the consumer market has shifted rapidly towards latex. Oil-based paints still have a number of advantages: they’re quite durable, they work better on stained and chalky surfaces, and they tend to work much better on metals that rust and woods that bleed (like cedar) than latex. In extreme climates, you’ll want to avoid using oil-based paints outside as they don’t stretch as well when the home breathes.

There are some interactions you need to keep in mind when repainting a surface. Some general rules:

  • Like goes with like. You can use water-based paints over water-based paints, and oil-based paints over oil-based paints
  • You can use oil-based paints over water-based paints
  • You can’t apply water based-paints over oil-based paints – it won’t adhere.

Paint Finishes

Another quality you want to be aware of in paint is the finish or sheen. Paint sheens range from matte (not very reflective) to high gloss. Matte paints don’t reflect very much light at all and they’re highly pigmented so they cover up imperfections. That said, they’re quite difficult to clean. You’ll want to opt for a matte finish when you’re painting things like bedroom walls – they don’t need to be cleaned often and you don’t want your walls shining all day. High gloss, on the other hand, is useful for things like cabinet doors. There are a number of different finishes between the two; less matte means easier to clean, shinier, and less adept at hiding blemishes.


Concerns about the environment and personal health have skyrocketed in recent years; as we learn more about the universe, we have a better idea what’s bad for our health, individually and collectively. Low VOC paints are those that have only a few volatile organic compounds (VOCs). They’re especially useful in homes with small children, elders, or pets. Low VOCs formulas are almost exclusive to latex paints.

Other Considerations

Other Considerations
As a rule, you’ll want to look for the most expensive paint you can afford. Paint is much like shoes or a bed – the higher the price tag (generally), the higher the paint’s durability. You don’t want to end up repainting your home again in a couple of years because the colour has faded! You’ll also want to keep in mind that the kind of brush and roller you use can impact the end result – that’s an article for another time, though.

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