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As one of the easiest ways to add color to a room, wall paint is often the foundation of your home decor. While beige, gray or white walls can create a blank slate for colorful artwork and furniture, a bright blue, green or red accent wall can be artwork in itself. Similarly, freshening up your tables and chairs with a new coat of furniture paint can change the whole dynamic of a space. Whether you’re tackling a DIY project or hiring a professional, sifting through paint swatches can be overwhelming, so be sure to consider these helpful tips before picking out any interior or exterior paint.

What types of paint are available?

You’ll hear terms like oil-based or latex paint being used commonly when exploring your options. Here’s the low down: Oil-based products will be more durable, but are more difficult to clean and have longer drying times; they are recommended for trim and baseboard projects. Latex products aren't as durable, but boast quick drying times and are much easier to work with, making them the perfectly suitable for walls and ceilings. You will also have to choose between various paint sheens, which can be summed up in the following:

  • High Gloss: Very Durable, easy to clean and super shiny. It’s good for doors, cabinets and trim, however, high gloss finish shows every imperfection, so prep thoroughly.

  • Semi Gloss: Durable and easy to clean, with a visibly glossy appearance. This is great for bathrooms and kitchens, where water drips and grease splatters often adorn the walls.

  • Satin: Durable and easy to clean, with a velvety luster. Satin sheen is good for rooms with high traffic, like hallways and family rooms, but does reveal application errors easily, making touch-ups difficult.

  • Eggshell: Medium durability with a no-shine, low luster appearance. Eggshell does wonders for covering imperfections, and is perfect for common spaces that take minimal abuse, like dining or living rooms.

  • Flat or Matte: Medium-low durability, tricky to clean, with no shine or luster. This sheen holds the most pigment and covers imperfections the best, but is hard to clean without removing paint along with the scuffs and dirt. It does best in low traffic spaces, like adults’ bedrooms.

What should I do before buying paint?

Determining your paint color is often one of the first decorating decisions you make, so you want to make sure it is consistent with your style and overall vision for the space. Before you buy several gallons, be sure to bring home several different paint swatches to determine what color and sheen will fit your space best. These free cards let you compare and contrast very similar colors, so you can get a feel for how a color will look in your space and with your furniture. This is especially helpful when trying to match with current accessories or linens. If you're still unsure, you can buy paint samples to test on your desired location to make sure the color is what you expected. Always look at the test spot during different times of the day, as changes in lighting can alter a color’s appearance. Additionally, consider what features are important to you and your family, like options that are non-toxic, mold- and mildew-resistant or include primer for quick and thorough coverage.

What color should I paint my walls?

Choosing a paint color is an entirely personal decision: Only you can decide what you like and what will look good in your home. As you pick your color, consider what will work well with your current furniture and accessories, especially if you plan on keeping them. You should also keep in mind what will help the space look larger and brighter. Typically, darker hues makes a room appear smaller, while lighter colors do the opposite. In the end, if you can't choose between two colors, you can always use both if they complement each other. Accent walls, where one wall sports a typically bright or dramatic color, are always a popular option.