What Type of Paint To Use For Your Next Project + The Differences Between Each

With so many varieties of paint on the market, it can be difficult to know which type of paint to purchase for your next project. I am here to help break it down for you.

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Usually, the project you’re working on will help you decide the type of paint you’ll use.  There are two types of paint, water-based, and oil-based paint.  And the biggest factor in choosing which type to use is determining the intended surfaces the paint will cover and will last on.

The next time you’re getting ready to start a new project, think about these factors to decide which paint to use.

behr interior paint

Interior Paint

The most popular type of paint on the market is known as interior paint.

Interior paint typically comes in two versions, water-based and oil-based, as well as in a variety of sheens. The sheen coincides with the amount of shine and durability. If you are thinking you want to use interior paint but aren’t sure about the sheen you can check out this guide.

Water-based interior paint is traditionally used on walls but also works well on furniture and other wood projects.  Here is a good example of interior paint used on furniture with my buffet makeover.

Oil-based interior paint is a thicker interior paint that creates a harder, more durable finish than water-based paint. It can be great for painting high-moisture rooms, like a bathroom or kitchen.

I personally have never worked with oil-based paint because of the stories I’ve heard of it turning yellow and how hard the clean up can be.

As much as I love working on projects, cleaning up is the least favorite, and sometimes skipped, part of projects for me.  So I tend to stay clear. But if you feel you can handle it, go for it!

Exterior Paint

While the exterior and interior paints are similar, their subtle differences are important.

Exterior paints are designed to be used outdoors and can withstand more wear and tear than indoor paint. Some of them, the good ones, will even have moisture barriers to help reduce the likelihood of mold and mildew.

This type of paint contains additives and resin that helps it stand up to harsh weather conditions, in addition to more color pigments that help maintain its shade through daily sun and wind exposure.

If you are painting something that will live outside, definitely consider exterior paint.

Chalk Paint

If you’re looking for a rustic finish for your next DIY project, chalk paint is the answer. Chalk paint creates a matte finish that is easy to distress, making it great for farmhouse style furniture makeovers.

Chalk paint is also a wonderful multi-surface option because it can be used on glass, wood, and walls.

You can set it using wax instead of a standard polyurethane topcoat. This makes it especially great for furniture painting. This upcycled file cabinet I redid for my parents last summer is a good example.

Apparently, there are different kinds.  The one I used came already mixed and ready to use.  But Toni over at Girl, Just DIY did this side table makeover with the kind you mix.  So check that out too!

type of paint

Spray Paint

Paint and stain that comes in an aerosol can, known as spray paint, is a great option for your next DIY project.

minwax polyurethane spray paint

In addition to being a simple way to add a coat of paint to furniture or home décor, spray paint is also great for refinishing the inside of cabinets because it allows you to quickly paint interior corners and crevices that are difficult to reach with a traditional paintbrush.

Milk Paint

Another great way to create a rustic finish on your next DIY project is with milk paint.

It is said to be the perfect choice for restoration projects.

Like chalk paint, milk paint has a flat finish and can easily be distressed for a rustic look. I have never worked with it personally but I have friends that swear by it.  Amy at 1905 Farmhouse shared her review of first-time use which I think may help you determine if it is for you.

Craft Paint

Craft paint typically comes in two types – acrylic and enamel.

Acrylic paint is great for a variety of craft and home décor projects.  This is because it can be used on lots of different surfaces, from plaster to wood.

Enamel craft paint is also wonderful for DIY home décor projects, although enamel paint is best for projects made from glass, metal, or ceramic.

Ready to give it a shot?  Choose the paint type that works best for what you are doing.  Keeping in mind the intended use of the item you are painting. And if you're planning to give your kitchen cabinets a makeover with a nice coat of paint, you need to give this a read! 

Other Painting articles you may find helpful:

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