What You Should Know About Latex Paint

What You Should Know About Latex Paint

Choosing and Using Paint

Paints have come a long way in the last 20 years, and although there are many paints on the market, they fall into two basic categories, oil-based and water-based. The most popular paint for do-it-yourselfers is latex or acrylic paint, and there are a number of features of latex paint that you should understand before you start your painting project.

Easy Cleanup if You’re Quick

One of the reasons latex paint is so popular is because it cleans up easily, but as the paint starts to cure, it becomes more viscous and difficult to clean out of brushes, clothes, hair, and other surfaces and objects. The lesson in this is to clean up as soon after painting as possible, and soak brushes and tools in water if you are finished with them, but can’t get to the cleanup yet.

Non-Toxic and Environmentally Friendly Latex Paint

With so much emphasis on the environment, its good to know that there is a popular variety of paint that is considered relatively safe for people and the planet. Latex paint containers can be disposed of in the regular trash, and it may even be possible to recycle paint cans in some locations. Although latex paint doesn’t create the toxic fume problems of oil-based paint, and what odor it does have dissipates rapidly, always make sure that you have good ventilation when painting indoors.


Latex paint is durable, making it a superior choice for your indoor, and many of your outdoor projects. It resists chipping and is less likely to crack, peel, blister, or fade over time.

Faster Drying

Latex paint dries quickly. This is great if you are in a hurry, or if you want to apply multiple coats of paint in one day, but if you’ve just noticed an imperfection and want to go over it again before the paint sets, forget it. Repainting an area where the paint has partially dried will result in a bumpy mess that will be hard to repair. Leave the area alone until it dries completely and then go over the questionable spot again. If you don’t think another coat will conceal it, sand it with very fine grit sandpaper and then repaint it.

Latex Paint Grades

All latex paint isn’t created equal. Paint is rated by grade, and grade is what usually distinguishes price. Lower-priced paints look like a good deal, but they are more difficult to work with and require expert application. More expensive paints blend better on your walls, resist fading, show fewer brush and roller marks, and are better at concealing the imperfections left by seams and patches. You will be much more satisfied with the results of your painting work if you use a good quality paint.

Understanding Paint Finishes

Paints are categorized by the way they react to light. This characteristic is called the paint’s “finish”. Paint manufacturers produce and market their products with a number of different finishes, and when you purchase paint you need to make a decision about the type of finish you will need for your project.

  • Flat – A flat, matte, or eggshell paint finish is not reflective, and has no sheen after the paint has dried. It is good at concealing irregularities like uneven brushstrokes and roller marks, so it’s a good choice for beginning painters, but there are some drawbacks that you should consider before you buy. It can look drab on your walls because it absorbs light rather than reflecting it, and it doesn’t wash well.
  • Satin Finish – The satin finish is by far the most popular interior paint finish sold today. It dries with a sheen that looks smooth, with a creamy, even texture. It is less effective at hiding the imperfections that result from patches, seams, and inexpert application than flat paint, although it provides better concealment than semi-gloss or glossy paints.Satin paint finishes are an excellent choice for areas that will need to be washed occasionally like halls and children’s rooms. It can also be used on trim, baseboards, banisters, windowsills, and doors.
  • Semi Gloss and Glossy Paints – High sheen paint finishes are easy to clean and very durable, but the highly reflective surface magnifies imperfections, and once dry it resembles enamel or plastic. It is a good choice for trim, kitchens and bathrooms, or any area that will need to be washed frequently.

Latex Paint is not Made With Latex Rubber

The term latex as it refers to paint is really a misnomer. Latex paint is a polyvinyl product that does not contain latex rubber. It presents no danger to people with latex allergies.

Latex paint is versatile, non-toxic, and can be cleaned up very easily with soap and water. Because it dries quickly, multiple coats can be applied easily in a day, and the odor dissipates quickly after the paint has dried.


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