Lots of decisions to make with paint: type, colour, finish

Whether you’re building a new home or renovating a room, choosing paint can become a larger task than one might think.

Not all paints are created equal. Price usually is an indication of the quality. Good quality paint contains less water, more solids and a finer quality of titanium oxide and resin. These attributes mean more colour ends up on the wall, it maintains its look longer and provides a more durable surface. This can also mean less labour and less coats of paint to get a solid look.

The two most common types of paint are water borne and oil based. Water borne include latex, or acrylic-based paint. Oil based paints were thought to wear better, however, modern latex and acrylic paints have become almost as durable with less fumes, less yellowing and easier clean up with water instead of solvents.

More environmentally friendly paints with fewer volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are available from all manufacturers. VOC content regulations were developed to help reduce emissions that produce smog and the formation of ground ozone. VOCs can cause skin and eye irritation, headaches, and respiratory distress in some people. If you want to tint the paint, ask about the VOCs in the colourant. Many colourants contain VOCs, which will defeat having chosen a low-VOC or no-VOC paint.

Sheen is something to consider when looking at finishes. In high traffic areas, you want a finish which can be wiped clean and is easy to touch up without repainting the entire wall. Eggshell finishes are a good choice in high traffic areas, as they have almost no sheen and are easier to clean than a flat finish.

Re-painting a white ceiling can be tricky, because it is difficult to see where you have painted or where you might have missed painting. Some ceiling paints appear to have a colour, such as pink, when they go on, but lose the colour when they dry.

If you are struggling to decide what colour to choose, there are tools on paint manufacturers’ websites that can help. They post their colour trends for the year, highlighting the top colour pallets their designers have put together.

There also is a colour quiz, where you answer a few questions about your personality and how you live and you will get a personalized palette for all design elements of your room.

You can upload a picture of the room you want to paint and many programs will show you what that room will look like in any colour you choose.

These tools and others help take the guesswork out of painting.

My final tip comes from Paul Guenette, owner of London CertaPro Painters franchise, who says “it is still important to see how paint swatches look in your home before making the final decision. The same colour applied to all of the walls in the same room may appear very different during daylight or with interior lighting at night.”

New paint can change the mood and look of any room in an instant.

Sue Wastell is the president of the London Home Builders' Association and Owner of Wastell Homes in London.     

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