It’s been said many times that painting your walls is one of the easiest and surest ways to completely change the look of your residential or commercial space. While color is the most important decision you’ll make when choosing from the many types of paint available, this is only one question you’ll face when contemplating your options. 

Many times, deciding on the paint to use seems more daunting than the actual painting. This is why we put together a quick list of the main types of paint available, differentiated by three criteria: paint makeup, finish and overall effect. Knowing what to consider will make the decision easier and give you an idea on what questions to ask your vendor or contractor. 

But first, a word of caution. If you are renovating a space that was built before 1978, there is a considerable risk that it contains materials coated with lead paint. Disturbing these lead particles and exposing the residents to this dangerous element can cause severe health issues. The law requires that contractors working on these projects obtain special certifications from state and federal agencies. To avoid both health hazards and legal issues, make sure your contractor is certified. It’s important that you learn about lead certification types and that those working on your project have the right one. 

Sherman Williams Commercial Tapestry Palette

1. Paint Makeup

Oil-based or water-based? Having to do with the type of binding agent that helps the paint attach to the surface, this is the first question you need to consider right after (or even before) choosing your color. The differences between the two types of paint are far from negligible, from cost and application to durability and even health hazards. 

Oil-based (Solvent-based) Paints

More durable than water-based options, oil-based paints may be your choice if you need a surface that is able to resist heavier use and the pass of time. Besides walls, great candidates for oil-based paints are doors and trims, since they are touched more often. Oil-based paints are generally cheaper, but more difficult to apply. Not only that they have a strong smell (that can be partially mitigated if you choose a low-VOC paint or one with a linseed-oil base), but you sometimes need to wait until the following day to apply the next coat. The professional-looking results, however, are worth it. 

Water-based (Latex) Paints

Water-based paints are the go-to choice for the non-professional painter. While generally more expensive, they are easier to apply, give off less hazardous smells, and dry considerably faster. This means that the project can often be completed in one day, depending on the surface that needs to be painted.

Sherman Williams Commercial Continuum Palette

2. Paint Finish

Paints differ in the amount of shine, going from flat to high-gloss and becoming incrementally more expensive. While choosing the right finish is sometimes a question of preference, it also has to do with the surface to be painted and its functionality. 


This matte option does not have any gloss and is best use for low-traffic spaces where contact is minimal.


With a minimal amount of gloss, satin paints are the ones most often used for walls. 


Halfway between flat and high-gloss, eggshell paints provide a more permisive texture that allows for careful washing. 


The type of paint often used in bathrooms, semi-gloss paint is highly durable. For this same reason, it is often used for trim. Semi-gloss paint requires more prep work to make sure the surface is smooth, since light reflections will emphasize any imperfections. 


The easiest to clean but also requiring more detailed prep work, high-gloss paint is highly reflective, so it is best used on smaller surfaces. Decorative elements such as crown molding are the usual candidates for high-gloss options.

Sherman Williams Commercial Sanctuary Palette

3. Paint Overall Effect

While solid blocks of paint are the norm in interior design, paints or techniques that give the walls an extra element of interest are often used to make a space different. Metallic paints and faux finishes are two of our favorite types of paint.

Metallic Paints

Metallic paints are usually water-based paints that contain metal or metallic-look flakes. These elements give walls the reflective look of metal, very fitting for modern spaces with a clean, cool or futuristic look. When applied to a textured wall, the result can be spectacular. Depending on the color and richness of tone, metallic paint can also bring a warm, glamorous and opulent vibe to your interior, so consider this option when trying to create this kind of ambiance. The application is no different than regular paint, but this type is dramatically costlier. 

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Faux Painting 

Describing a technique rather than a certain type of paint, faux painting is an ingenious way to mimic the look of materials such as stone or brick by using paint. The glazing technique is only one way of achieving this result by applying a mixture of paint and glazes with a roller, a brush, a sponge, or even a rag. When this technique makes use of metallic paints, the result gives the impression of old mysterious treasures hidden behind the dust of ages.

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If you are thinking to open a new business or are in the process of rebranding and remodeling your existing business, contact us to get a free consultation from Mindful Design Consulting. Click HERE to price your project design.

Also, take a look at “Branding By Interior” e-book, the only book written on this subject at this time. It brings insight on how you can turn your business into a market-dominating competitor by using human cognitive responses.

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