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What type of paints to use?

How do you select a paint? What criteria should you look at? Can you simply look at price or a popular brand, and make a good determination of what is a good paint for you to use in your home or business?

When selecting paint it often makes sense to purchase the best possible paint. Better paints equal longer service life. In general the more money you spend on a paint the better its quality will be and the higher its solid content will be. The higher solids content, less fillers and diluents , better pigments, more binders, fancy additives, biocides, and general tricks it performs the more expensive the paint will be. Unless you understand paint characteristics, it is impossible to choose which paint is good for you.

What characteristics are important?

Selecting the right paint for your particular job should start with a consideration of the characteristics you want in that paint. Ask yourself questions like; Will anyone mind the smell? Will it stick to the old paint? Will it fill in all of these edges and cracks? Will it be washable? When using a quality paint you will also want to consider the application process. How easy is it to apply?

Firstly, if you are using a premium paint, the time and in some cases the amount of paint, it requires to use the product is reduced because of better coverage, easier application and quicker clean-up. Did you know inexpensive paints splatter when rolled out? Its always a tell-tale sign of an inferior paint job when you see tiny “white rain” every where along the edges. Not only does the paint feel better and have less resistance, it flows out better, and covers with fewer coats as well. If you have ever watched paint dry, no seriously, you will have noticed that a good paint will move and sag as it is laid down on the surface. This movement is called leveling out, and it is what allows the paint to looks nice and smooth, like an old time oil paint-a sheet of glass. If you see a paint dried in with a lot of texture from the either the roller or the brush, it is either a sign of an inferior application, or an paint that has lousy leveling out abilities.

Besides the actual ease of application which should serve as a quick test of a quality paint. There is the longer and more difficult to measure, factor of how a paint performs under daily use. Paints undergo a series of tests to measure there ability to hold up in the real world before they are every sold. They basically fall into two important categories, abrasion test and adhesion test. There are also tests given for fading and pigment hold out. These would test for how the color of the paint stands washing and exposure to light. A quick test of any paint is to take a clean white cotton rag and lightly wipe it over a darkly colored dry painted sample. If you see color on your cloth you know you have an inferior paint film that cannot resist a simple household cleaning.

Some other important qualities for a paint to have are its flexibility as a dry film, how it can or cannot move with the substrate. Another is its porosity how moisture can or cannot move thorough it. Also important is how thick the dried paint film is. This will be handy in hiding uneven surfaces and providing longer wear. Even more amazing among these is the ability for a dried paint film to adhere to a substrate, the thing that is being painted or previous paint films. These characteristics can be very complicated chemistry, and depend on the preparation of the surfaces painted, as well as the temperature and humidity during the time of application.

Oil or water based paint?

Whether you select an oil or water based you will probably be looking at some of the same qualities. Available now are water based oils that combine some of the properties of oil based paint with the convenience of water based paints, more about these in a future article.

Some of the main drawbacks to using an oil are; the odor, the open time, and the cleanup. One of the pros is its ability to provide a tough and durable film combined with a smooth and glass like appearance. Many of today’s oil paints have inferior ingredients in them and thus will yellow especially noticeable in the whites. Higher quality oils will not do this but are quite expensive and generally not available in your typical paint retailer. Here at J P Interiors we have found a few ways around this shortcoming, and have been pleased with the results.

Whichever you choose, make sure you never use an water based paint on top of an oil based paint-especially a high gloss oil. Unless you have taken steps to make sure you will have proper adhesion you can’t expect the water based paint to adhere properly to the oil. I cannot tell you how many times I have seen total paint failure from this exact mistake. The coating literally comes off with the slightest scratch and in the worst cases will peel of in large sheets. Yikes!

A checklist of paint qualities….

  • Ease of application
  • Coverage/Hiding
  • Drying time
  • Adhesion
  • Odor
  • Leveling
  • Pigment hold out
  • Fading
  • Elasticity
  • Porosity
  • Scrub resistance
  • Hardness of paint film
  • Corrosion resistance
  • Mold/Mildew resistance
  • Dried film thickness
  • UV resistance and breakdown

 

Finding the right paint for you…

Every brand, even your favorite, makes as many as 6, or more different lines or qualities of paint, in exterior and interior. So why all the choices? Well because as we can see, paint can do so many different things! We have only touched on a few here but there are many, many more. Different applications will require different paint choices. Some paints are self-priming while most are not.

There are always compromises you will make and you will have to learn what it is that you want your paint to look and act like over its lifespan in order to make the choice that is for you. As well you will have to consider where and when it is being applied. Oil applied in a dusty environment will yield less than spectacular results, with dust settling into the long drying oil. While its hard to find the “perfect paint” that incorporate all of these qualities, it should make it easier to list the ones that are important to you, and go from there.

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