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Selecting the Ideal Paint For Your Home Style Needs

Paint, paint, glorious paint! It's one of the least expensive materials you can buy for your house that delivers one of the biggest visual punches. It also fixes a myriad of issues. Got a tired exterior? Paint. The interior of your home feels like it is closing in on you? Paint. Bought a couch that you love, but clashes with everything else? PAINT.

In all seriousness, paint is a great way to brighten, enliven, and give your home a significant face lift -- inside and out. But after you've picked a color, what comes next? How do you choose the right paint and actually buy the right amount for your project?

Choosing Your Ideal Paint

Deciding on paint can be overwhelming. There are always a variety of grades and characteristics to select among, leaving a great deal of people very confused and frustrated. Here are a few things to watch out for when choosing your paint:

Composition. There are other choices for paint, but for most homeowners, the largest choice is between latex and oil. Latex paint offers easy clean-up, but can be slightly soft when fully cured, making it a poor choice for high traffic areas. On the other hand, oil is far more difficult to clean up, but will pretty much go over anything and harden much better to handle years and years of abuse.

Sheen. Your walls are your own, and only you can decide just how shiny they ought to be. When you're choosing your paint sheen, it might feel as a no-brainer to go with the shiniest paint out there, but take a minute and consider that glossy paint reveals a good deal of sins, and few houses are really perfect.

So if your walls or other surfaces are less than perfect, the flaws could stand out badly. On the other hand, something like eggshell hides a lot of sins, but can be extremely difficult to clean, if it get dirty.

Durability. Paint is paint is paint, right? Sadly, not even remotely. There are paints that start around $20 a gallon and there are paints that could be four times as much. Both are priced the way they are because of different characteristics they have, but durability is a massive factor in the pricing.

Cheap paint is just that: cheap. It is generally not meant to last very long, which will leave you having to redo it again soon. On the other hand, top of the line paint is likely impregnated with UV-resistant materials, weather resistant chemicals, and other fancy stuff to keep your paint looking great for longer.

Coats to Coverage. Most paints will tell you how many coats it will take to cover your wall (generally assuming you have properly primed first). This is really important information when it comes to figuring out how much paint you need. One coat coverage from a $50 gallon of paint is often still cheaper than three coat coverage from a $20 gallon.

Properly Doing the Paint Math

As far as how to calculate your paint needs, it's important to keep in mind that you're definitely going to have some loss to waste, so your calculations are really more like estimates. Painting isn't a precise science; it is more of an art, and how much paint ends up being used is influenced by your tools and techniques, as well as the paint and walls themselves.

To calculate your paint requirements, simply multiply your surface elevation by its length, in feet. So, if you are painting a 10 foot by 20 foot wall, you'd need coverage for 200 square feet. Examine the paint you're interested in to determine how many feet the bucket should cover and in how many coats. A good deal of paint gallons cover approximately 250 square feet, which would be great for your first coat on this wall.

If you need at least two coats, you will need two or more times that much paint. It's far better to round up than down, since you're almost certainly going to find spots you want to touch-up later.

In addition, if your paint is custom tinted, you're going to get a far better match if it's all done together. In the age of computerized paint mixing, you can still end up with a day when the machine is feeling a bit off.

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