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I’ve been in the Painting Industry for over 38 Years and for the last 12 Years as a Contractor. I’ve Consulted with many Customers and their Situations on which Product, Finish and Color to Choose. I’ve found most People think Paint is Paint, You Purchase it, You Apply it and it's Done.

It's a little more Complicated than that, especially if You‘re a First Timer. When you Factor in all of the Circumstances it can become Difficult, Confusing and Frustrating. Today's Paint Manufacturers Research & Develop New Paint Products on a Regular Schedule. Just to Name a Few Claims, Better Coverage, Better Durability, Better Light Reflection Values, Primer in the Paint, Types of Finishes, Types of Textures & lastly More COLOR CHOICES.

In Part 1 We will discuss choosing a Product Line, Finish Sheens, Product Specifics, and the How and Why certain Product and Colors are Estimated, especially if You are going to have a Professional do it. In Part 2 We will discuss Color Basics, Primary Colors, Secondary Colors and the Intermediate Colors, showing You how and why the Colors relate to each other. In Part 3 we will discuss building a Color Scheme using Multiple Colors, the Neutrals, the Monochromatic Scheme, the Analogous Scheme and the most popular of the three the Complementary Scheme.

My Purpose is to Enlighten You with enough Information on the decisions You will have to make for Your Painting Project and make it a little Easier and less Stressful. Lets proceed to Part 1!

Below are some Examples of the “Pros” and “Cons” You may Encounter when Choosing Your Product Line, Finish & Color. Familiarize Yourself with these Items and if you need more Assistance seek the Advice from one of the Reps at Your Local Paint Store. They are Trained to Assist you with the Right Choice for Your Painting Project.



Although, the Local Home Improvement and Hardware Stores offer Paint Products, they only offer 1 Product Line, Advertising it as their #1 Quality Brand. A Contracted Manufacturer produces it using Inexpensive Raw Materials and Binders, so that it can be Sold at a Bargain Price. In my Opinion that doesn’t say QUALITY it says CONVENIENCE. If you never used anything but this Paint Product you wouldn’t know the Difference.

"Let's Face it Folks, They don't Exactly Specialize in Paint Manufacturing and I had to Learn that the Hard Way on a Couple of Jobs"

In the past, I have used the Customer’s Choice of Product, a few of them Good and a lot of them not so Good. When You’re a Professional, It’s a hard Pill to Swallow knowing You’re Applying an Inferior Product and putting Your Name on it. You‘re kind of in between a Rock and a Hard Place, when the Customer has Purchased the Materials and Hired you to do the Job. Just knowing the Fact when the Product Fails and it doesn’t live up to the Customer’s Expectations, it won’t be the Manufacturer who has staked their claim of “#1 Quality Brand” that will get the Blame, it’s always going to be the Contractor who Applied it.

"Choosing a Quality Product should be of the Utmost Importance for Your Painting Project, it will Run Smooth, Attain the Quality You Expect and You'll Achieve Total Satisfaction with the Final Results"

If You’re a DIYer or Planning to have Your Painting Professionally done, Your First and Only Choice should be a Product Line from a Reputable Manufacturer that stands behind the Quality of their Product. Many of them Produce Paint Coatings across the Nation and some all over the World, that speaks for itself. They offer many Coatings ranging from Top of the Line, Intermediate and Maintenance Levels, including Eco-Friendly Products. In the Long Run it will save You Time, Money and fulfill the Requirements You Expect to Ensure You that it will bring out the Beauty in Your Space.

"The Paint Job is only as Good as the Paint Product"


In Closing, You can't go Wrong Choosing a Product Line from a Manufacturer the Professionals Use, it would be your Best Decision.




There are many Different Types of Paint Sheens (Finishes) Available. Some are Designed to Accent Trim Mouldings, Others Reflect Light more Efficiently, yet others Resist Moisture and can Easily be Cleaned. Choosing the Proper Finish will give You the Look you Wish to Achieve and the Durability You Require. The Names and Sheens will Vary between Manufacturers and Product Line Availability

Below are some of the most Common Sheens (Finishes) Available and a Short Description of the advantages and disadvantages:

  • Flat Finish
  • Matte/Flat Enamel Finish

The Following Terms are used to Describe the Range between a Flat & Semi-Gloss Finish:

  • Silk Finish
  • Suede Finish
  • Satin Finish
  • Pearl Finish
  • Melamine Finish
  • Velvet Finish
  • Platinum Finish
  • Eggshell Finish
  • Lo(w) Luster or Lustre Finish
  • Lo(w) Sheen Eggshell Finish

Advantages: Flat and in between Finishes

  1. They provide even Light Reflection and give the Surface a Softer, more Uniform look.
  2. They don’t Hi-Light surface Imperfections like Higher Sheen Paints, so they usually don’t require as much Surface preparation prior to painting.

Disadvantages: Flat and in between Finishes

  1. They are less Stain Resistant than Higher Sheen Paints, so they should not be used on Surfaces that will be Handled, Washed or Scrubbed Frequently, yet they can be Lightly Cleaned Periodically.
  2. They are Less Moisture Resistant than Higher Sheen Finishes, so they are not the Best Choice for areas that are Exposed to High Humidity Levels, like in Bathrooms, or on Surfaces that will be Washed Frequently.
  • Semi-Gloss Finish
  • High Gloss Finish

Advantages: Semi-Gloss and High Gloss Finishes

  1. They have better Stain Resistance, so they Resist Dirt Pick Up and stay Cleaner Longer.
  2. They have better Scuff and Wear Resistance, so they’re Good for High Traffic Areas and on Surfaces that are Handled, Washed or Scrubbed Frequently.
  3. They have better Moisture Resistance, which makes them ideal for Surfaces and Areas that are Frequently Exposed to High Humidity Levels.

Disadvantages: Semi-Gloss and High Gloss Finishes

  1. They tend to Hi-Light any Surface Imperfections.
  2. They are Harder to Touch Up than Lower Sheen Paints, because the Higher Sheen tends to Hi-Light the Slightly Raised Surface of the Film where the Touch Up was done.
  3. They usually need to be Sanded, De-Glossed or Primed prior to Re-Painting, to ensure Good Adhesion of the New Paint.

NOTE: Check with the Paint Manufacturer of Your Choice for the Sheens Available.

The area that a surface is located or the type of surface that is to be painted can many times dictate the degree of gloss that would be best suited for both durability and appearance.  When evaluating the aesthetic appeal of a coated surface there are many variables.  Glossy finishes have the appearance of being "hard" and tend to enhance texture or defects in the surface or its preparation.  This in some cases can lead to excessive surface preparation, not warranted for the surface being coated.  For example, a long hallway where there is considerable traffic would benefit in durability if the wall surfaces were coated with a gloss finish.  The marking would be minimized, wash ability and stain removal would be much better than if a flat coating were used. 

Aesthetically, the flat coating would show much less surface irregularities than the gloss coating and a "warm" diffused color and appearance.  In this instance, a compromise would be to use a semi-gloss or eggshell / satin / velvet coatings.  For better physical and stain resistance, the semi-gloss coating would excel, for better uniformity with a slight compromise in physical and stain resistance, the eggshell / satin / velvet finish coatings would be best. 

In another example, an exterior door and trim will be served better by the more mar proof, stain resistant surface provided by a gloss or semi-gloss finish than the eggshell / velvet / satin or flat finish.

This chart can be used as a guide to select your finish / sheen that are normally recommended for these areas. 






Bedroom Walls


** (1)


** (2)

Bathroom Walls





Family Room Walls





Kitchen Walls




** (2)

Laundry Room Walls

** (1)



** (2)

Hallway Walls


** (1)


** (2)

Interior Doors



** (2)


Interior Trim



** (2)

** (2)

Interior Floors


** (2)

** (2)


Exterior Doors



** (2)


Exterior Deck

*** (3)

** (2/3)

*** (4)


Exterior Masonry


** (1)



Exterior Wood Siding

** (1)



** (2)

Exterior Trim



** (2)

** (2)

* = not recommended
** = recommended with limitations
*** = recommended

(1) May be difficult to get gloss and color uniformity
(2) Can mar and mark in high traffic areas
(3) May be too slippery
(4) Most non-slip surfaces appear as low sheen finishes

"Rule of Thumb: The More Shine the Less Forgiving the Appearance"



Quality paint and materials can make all the difference between a "paint job" or a quality, long lasting, finish for your home.  Quality is something you should be proud of!  A common reason why most people have painting problems is selection of materials.  There is no such thing as a good inexpensive can of paint!  Usually you get exactly what you pay for, paint and painting materials being no exception.

Better quality paints will give more square footage per gallon, easy touch up and longer life.  Invest in a quality product from the start.  After all, you do not want to be painting your house again in 12 months because of "cheap" materials.  This can be very expensive.

The grade and type of pigments, resins, or binders determine the quality of the product.  Do not buy a name brand and think you are purchasing a good quality product; all manufacturers make an inexpensive paint.  They must, to provide for all markets. 

A $10 a gallon of low-grade paint offers new color and a fresh appearance.  Do not try to wash or touch it up, it will not hold up to cleaning or wear.  A $30 gallon of the same manufacturers top line paint has premium pigments more resin, and less water.  This paint will give you more coverage per gallon, washes - touches up well, and lasts much longer.

With reference to exterior paints, it could save a lot with water damage and wood or siding replacement.  Go with the medium and top grade paints, you will be glad you did, in the end it will save time, money and headaches.

Painting your house can be rewarding, but you must consider all aspects before starting your paint project, so you can finish your project safely and efficiently.  Quality paint and materials will last longer and "look better" longer without quick fading and failure.

The Bottom Line, Better Ingredients mean Better Performance.  A High Quality Coating starts with High Quality Ingredients that allow Paint to apply more Easily, Look Better and Last Longer.  Here are Four Key Ingredients that Affect the Quality of Paint.

PIGMENT: There are Two Different Types of Pigment that goes into a Can of Paint.  First are "Prime" Pigments, These Provide Color, and Hide.  Second are Low Cost "Extender" Pigments.  By Comparison, they Add Bulk to the Product, but have little Value as it relates to Color.  Higher Quality Paints have more of the all Important, yet more Expensive Prime Pigments, which in the end gives Easier Application as well as Better Durability and Color Retention.

BINDERS: There is a Variety of Binders used in Today's Paints.  Latex Paints contain either 100% Acrylic, Styrene-Acrylic, or Vinyl Acrylic Binders.  Oil Paints typically contain Linseed Oil, Soya Oil, or Modified Oils called Alkyds.  The Type, Quality, and Amount of Binder affect everything from Stain Resistance and Gloss to Adhesion and Crack Resistance.  Higher quality Binders, found in Higher Quality Paints, Adhere to surfaces Better, Provide Enhanced Film Integrity, and Longer Lasting Performance; this makes them more Resistant to Cracking, Blistering, and Peeling.

LIQUIDS: Liquids have no added Performance Benefits.  It is simply the "Carrier" that allows you to get the Paint from the Can to the Surface.  As you might guess, Top quality Paints have a Greater Ratio of solids (Pigments and Binders) to Liquids, while Cheaper Paints are more "Watered Down" with Liquid.

ADDITIVES: Additives are Ingredients that give Paint a Specific Benefit that it might not otherwise have.  Common Additives in Higher End Paints Include:

Rheology Modifiers - Provide Better Hide through Flow and Leveling of the Coating
Mildewcides - Keep Mildew in Check
Dispersing Agents - Keeps Pigments evenly Distributed
Preservatives - Prevents Spoilage

Additives do Increase the Cost of the Product while Providing Significant added Benefits.

If you want professional results, start with careful preparation and quality products.  A successful paint project includes quality paint, other materials, and planning.  If there is any, doubt on which products or materials to buy or use, consult your local paint store or professional.


Very few products can be considered self-priming and most paints are not a part of this category.  Primer plays a very important role in providing a stable foundation for the house paint.


  • able to Bond to a surface - making it more stable for paint application
  • can penetrate below some questionable surfaces - by acting like glue
  • seals the surface and blocks stains - from bleeding, through the paint.
  • increases the coverage of the paint -  Making vivid colors cover better in fewer coats
  • can be sanded to a smooth surface - Difficult with paint, depending on the sheen type
  • makes the house paint last longer - Like adding an additional coat.


Some manufactures claim that their paint can act as a primer, in other words binding to surfaces like a primer.  At the same time, they manufacture primers.   This sounds like a sales pitch to increase the purchase of a particular product.

The only self-priming paint I am aware of is specialized industrial finishes, like Floor Epoxy and Direct to Metal, DTM, finishes.  Even these products have primers designed to increase overall performance.

The idea that house paint can be self-priming is questionable.  I recommend using the appropriate primer.  Now is the only time you will have to do it right.  The amount of time and money spent now will save much more in the future.


For the most part, Paints using Small Amounts of Universal Colorants show no Major Differences in their Physical Properties. However, where Large Amounts are Used, Properties such as Curing Time, Early and Total Water Resistance, Resistance to Cleaners, Burnishing (Polishing) and Uniformity are Affected Negatively.

Universal Colorants are Materials Containing a Color Pigment dispersed in a blend of Surfactants and a Liquid (most often a glycol). The Level of Pigment is Dependant on the Type, Color Strength and Pigment Surface Area. Finer (i.e. High Surface Area) Pigments such as Lampblack, are used in lower concentrations that larger (i.e low Surface Area) Pigments such as Red Iron Oxide. The Balance of the Material is Comprised of Surfactants, Glycol and in some case, and Extender Pigment. The Weakness comes from the Properties of the Surfactants and of the Glycol which effectively stay in the Paint Film Longer maintaining Water Solubility and Softness in the Dry Film.

Paints are generally available as White, Tint, Deep and Accent Bases that can be Tinted to Various Shades and Depths by the use of Liquid Colorants. The Level of Opaque Pigment (in most cases Titanium Dioxide) is Varied to Balance the Degree of Hue (Lightness Darkness). The Maximum Amount of Colorant that is Added to each Base is Dictated by the Final color Required, Type and Opacity of the Particular Colorant, and the Level of Opaque Pigment in the Base.


BASE               OPAQUE PIGMENT*           MAX TINT
WHITE                2.0 -3.0 lbs/gal                      4 oz
TINT                   1.75-2.25 lbs/gal                   4 oz
DEEP                1.0-1.5 lbs/gal                       8 oz
ULTRA DEEP     0.3-0.5 lbs/gal                      10-12 oz
ACCENT              N/A                                      14 oz
*Note Opaque Pigment Level Varies with Manufacturer and Paint Type
Article Courtesy of Master Paint Institute


Many paint coating manufacturers and painting contractors use a warranty as advertising and marketing gimmicks, this is evident when you try to use the warranty.  Established painting contractors honestly offer a warranty and are willing to honor it as part of good customer relations.

For the do-it yourselfers, a paint warranty offered by the manufacturer is not worth much or worth worrying about.  If you choose the best products and do the right painting steps, a warranty will not matter.

The paint coating manufacturer or the retailer offers the first type of warranty that most people think about.  I have seen 10, 15, 25 year and even lifetime warranties offered for paint at home improvement centers.  Let alone a lifetime paint warranty.

The use of a paint warranty is a marketing attention grabber.  When you see a 10 or 15-year warranty on the label you stop and look.  Maybe you will make the purchase.  It works!  Now try to use the warranty.  This is another lesson in frustration.  Read the label very carefully before the purchase.  Do not bother with a product warranty.  Homeowners rarely use product warranties, to difficult to prove your claim.  The real warranty is with the professional painting contractor.

Many variables can affect a home and a paint job.  Most are beyond the control of the painting contractor; these include customer damage or abuse, customer-supplied paint, roof leaks, etc.  You get the point.  The aspects of the job under the contractors control is the details that make up the labor of the job according to the contract and any supplied materials.

A reasonable warranty period for most exterior paint jobs is 2 years, but 1 year is sufficient.  Usually, 1 cycle of the seasons is enough time for any defects in workmanship to appear.  Longer times are used by painting contractors as a sales pitch to entice you to sign the contract.

Most interior paint jobs do not require a warranty as this type of painting generally lasts for many years, as long as the proper steps are taken in the care of the product.

The real value of a professional paint job is the painter.  Even with the most expensive primer and paint, experience is still the most important.  With experience, there is detail.  Good results are in the details of the job, based on performance, and the types of products used.

All valid warranties will have a list of the items covered and excluded.  As mentioned above, all forms of damage or abuse caused after the job was completed are excluded.

This makes sense but you, the customer, also have a part in lengthening this list.  For example, you demand a specific type of paint not normally used by the contractor or choose a color that will fade quickly.  The painting contractor cannot guarantee products they are unfamiliar with.

Your home also plays its part in influencing the paint warranty.  The condition and design of your home affects how long the paint job can last.  This mostly affects old homes and buildings with multiple layers of paint, some of it failing in hideous ways.  I have painted many homes that I could not give a solid warranty on.  In order to guarantee some homes I would have had to install new building materials, an expense well beyond the cost of the paint job.

In closing, consider the painting contractor and the warranty together.  If you have any problems, the contractor will have to provide the labor to fix the problem.  An honest, qualified professional painting contractor is not cheap.  If you want a paint warranty that has real value you will have to pay the extra cost.



There are many Circumstances involved in Determining an Estimate for Labor and Material Costs. Certain Situations warrant which Application Technique and Material Application to be used. In addition to the actual Painting there is Surface Preparations to be considered into the Costs. Below is some of the most common criteria.


  • Drywall Point Up / Repairs
  • Caulking
  • Scraping / Sanding
  • Mask Taping
  • Hardware Removal


  • Custom Colors or One Color Thruout
  • Interior Occupied Unit
  • Interior Vacant Unit
  • Exterior Foundation or Siding
  • Exterior Trim
  • Exterior Decking or Flooring


  • Color Change
  • Finish Sheen Change
  • If a Primer Coat is Needed
  • Type of Surface & Existing Coating to be Painted

Here is a Brief Description of the Techniques and Applications that maybe used.


  • Airless Spraying Produces a Smooth Look Finish and Provides great Surface Coverage. It’s Commonly used on Large Areas Painted the Same Color, such as Apartment Turn-Key, Vacant Homes Etc. Latex and Alkyd Products are used for this Type of Application. This Technique uses a little more Product, but significantly decreases the Labor Costs.
  • High Volume Low Pressure or HVLP Air Spraying Produces a very fine Factory Finish and is usually used on Cabinetry, Furniture, Natural Woodwork Etc. Alkyd, Polyurethanes, Varnish & Lacquer Products are used for this Type of Application. This Technique uses an Average Amount of Product and Labor.
  • Brush and Roller Produces Various Types of Finishes Textures depending on the Nap Thickness of the Roller. It’s Commonly used on Custom Painted Areas using Different Colors. Most Products can be used for this Type of Application. This Technique uses a Variable Amount of Product and has the most Labor Costs.


  • ONE (1) COAT APPLICATION: a One (1) Finish Coat Paint Application usually will Provide Sufficient Coverage under Normal Conditions when using the Existing Color and Finish and You are doing a Freshen Up Repaint. In some Cases a Two (2) Finish Coat Paint Application may be Necessary on some of the High Traffic Areas.
  • TWO (2) COAT APPLICATION: A Two (2) Finish Coat Paint Application usually will Provide Sufficient Coverage under Normal Conditions without a Primer Coat when You are doing a Color Change within a Similar Tint/Shade/Tone/Hue of the Existing Color and/or Finish Change. (This is the most common application)
  • THREE (3) COAT APPLICATION: A One (1) Primer Coat Application (may be partially tinted if necessary) and a Two (2) Finish Coat Paint Application usually will Provide Sufficient Coverage when You are doing a Deep Tinted Color and/or Finish Change. Also, this Application may be necessary when the Surfaces are Old or have a Large Amount of Preparations.


MATERIAL PURCHASES: Material Purchase Estimations are Determined by the Current Surface Coatings. A Porous Flat Paint Coating will Absorb more Product than a Smooth Enamel Paint Coating. The Normal Calculation for a Gallon of Paint is between 200 to 350 Sq. Ft. per Gallon Depending on the Coated Surface and if it's a Brush & Roll or Spray Application Technique.



Nobody said it was going to be easy, but at least you have a understanding of the how, what and whys of product specifics.  The product lines, sheen (finish) choices, the material applications, the techniques used and material purchases are all-important factors in the process of estimating a painting project.

The next step may be the most difficult of the painting process, choosing the right color for your space.  Approximately 10% of my customers have picked the actual color choices they prefer at the time I arrive for their estimate appointment.  Under normal conditions, I do not require the actual color decision at this time, only if there will be a color or sheen (finish) change.  The only time it would affect the actual estimate, if the color were a deep tint or accent base requiring a three (3) coat material application.

Don't Panic!  It's ok if you have not made your decision yet, it takes time making the right choices.  Just be sure the one you make will give the look and feel you desire in the space.  Feel comfortable with your decision.  You are the one who has to live with it!

Before we go to Paint School 101 Part 2, lets check your "Color Mood".


Although you may have your favorite colors, before you choose a paint color for a particular room, think about how color influences mood. For example, while a color like red may have just the energizing effect you'd like in a dining room or family room, it may be too stimulating for a bedroom. Read through these colorful attributes and learn how create an intended mood or atmosphere through color choices.


Purple is a combination of red and blue and while it lends excitement, it looks regal and rich and is especially crisp with white. Tones of purple lend an undercurrent of energy without over stimulation.

Green has a positive influence that promotes confidence and relaxation and it is the symbolic color of life and spring. It is a combination of yellow and blue and is perfect for promoting relaxation and rest.

Blue is the coolest of colors on the spectrum and it calms the nervous system. This makes it a great choice for a bedroom, kitchen or family room, but it is a bit too laid back for a home office, where it can encourage you to nap when you should be working.

Orange is a combination of yellow and red and is a warm, lively hue that can be used wherever you want to promote positive energy. Use it in a kitchen, home office or sunroom as an inviting contrast to neutral tones.

Invite a cheerful mood into a room with a sunny yellow tone. Creamy buttery shades of pale yellow create an easy to live with pastel backdrop, while bold yellow is a striking splash of color that can be good choice for accents in kitchens, family rooms, laundry rooms and sun rooms

Red is a passionate stimulating color that can bring excitement to a kitchen and richness to a dining room, especially when combined with gold and the sparkle of mirrors. Tone it down with neutrals, or slip toward deeper burgundy, and you will tone down the energizing brightness while keeping the richness of tone.

The dark mystery of black has a grounding force in a room and it balances other colors. Use it in accents to balance bright colors and contrast it with neutrals or brown for a sophisticated contemporary palette. Black does absorb light, so additional light may be needed in a room when black is used in more than small doses.

White symbolizes purity and is the absence of all colors. It makes a room feel spacious and combining shades of white will bring a sophisticated airiness to a space. Warm up a white space with brightly colored accents that will jump to the foreground against this neutral backdrop

Neutral shades of beige, such as sand, khaki or taupe, let you accessorize with any other colors because they work with both warm and cool hues, so it is a great choice if you like to change furnishings and accessories from time to time. It will complement boldly colored furniture or accessories, letting them take center stage, or it will blend with neutral furniture and accessories, creating a harmonious mood.

Gray combines black with white and adds a stately air to a room that will provide a pleasing backdrop to warm or cool colors, or a modern crisp palette of black and white. Trim it out with white wood work for a crisp sophisticated frame that will let you take your decorative choices in any direction.


Now that you have come into touch with your color moods, maybe you are a step closer to a color that will set the tone for the space. Lets proceed to the next step and learn a little about COLOR BASICS.