A Guide to Understanding Paint Types for Every Project


Paint comes in many formulations for various applications. Understanding the major categories of paint helps choose the right product for any painting project.

Latex Paint

Latex paint is water-based and a popular choice for interior walls and trim. It is easy to apply and clean up with soap and water. Latex dries quickly with low odor and provides a smooth, durable finish. It is available in different sheens like flat, eggshell, and semi-gloss.

Acrylic Latex Paint

Acrylic latex paint is a derivative of latex paint but with acrylic added. It offers benefits like excellent adhesion, durability, and resistance to cracking and fading. Ideal for both indoor and outdoor projects. Clean-up also soap and water.

Oil-Based Paint

Oil-based paints use oils as a binder. They provide a glossy, protective finish and excel for trim and metals. However, oil paint emits strong fumes and requires paint thinner for brush cleaning. It is more durable than latex.


Primers prepare surfaces prior to painting by improving adhesion and evening out absorbency. Using the right primer is key - latex primers for latex paint or oil-based primers for oils. Tintable primers help increase paint coverage.


Enamels provide a durable, glass-like finish that resists scratches, chips, and yellowing. Most enamels are oil-based. Useful for coating surfaces like cabinets, tile, metals, and bathtubs due to hardness and glossy sheen.

Epoxy Paint

Two-part epoxy paints offer extremely durable, protective coatings that can withstand harsh conditions. They contain epoxy resins and a polyamide hardener that requires mixing before application. Useful in industrial settings.


Varnishes provide a transparent protective coating over painted surfaces. They come in various sheens from glossy to matte. Useful over finished wood or as topcoats. Polyurethane is a popular modern varnish. Needs multiple coats for best protection.

Understanding paint types allows selecting the optimal product for every project. Consider sheen, durability, and purpose when choosing paints.