Understanding the Different Types of House Paint Can Save You Money in the Long Run

types of house paint

Picking the perfect paint color can be overwhelming with seemingly countless shades. (Benjamin Moore alone claims to offer more than 3,500 options!) The good news is that picking a paint color can be fun. Once you’ve picked the perfect hue to highlight your home’s best features your need to consider the types of house paint and find the right formula and sheen for your home project.

Many homeowners don’t know where to start when it comes to oil vs. latex or choosing between flat, eggshell, satin, or semi-gloss. 

And the right answer varies depending on the room you’re having painted and the wear and tear you expect.

Let’s give you a primer on the various formulas and finishes so you and choose the one that’s ideal for your space.


Your Guide to Picking the Best Living Room Paint Colors and Popular Colors for a Bedroom and How to Pick the Perfect Paint

Types of House Paint: Oil or Latex?

Your first choice when considering house paint is deciding between oil-based or latex (water-based) paint. Historically oil was always the front-runner and most commercial painters would not use latex. However, latex formulas have come a long way since Sherwin-Wiliams first introduced a commercially-successful water-based paint during World War II. 

oil-based paint

Let’s look at some of the pros and cons of each formula:

Oil-Based Paint: Pros and Cons


  • Resists scratches, scruffs, stains, and wear and tear
  • Able to adhere to most surfaces
  • Tends to give more coverage with fewer coats
  • Takes longer to dry which means you have more working time.


  • Strong fumes
  • Messier clean-up requiring paint thinner (and must be disposed of and stored properly)
  • Doesn’t retain its color and gloss as well as latex paint
  • Turns yellow over time

Because of their durability, oil-based paints are a great option for painting outdoor metal furniture or railings. Their smooth finish means they also work well for wood doors, windows, and trim as it seals the stains and knots better than latex. If you have oil-based paint on your walls currently and want to change the color replacing it with another oil-based paint is less work than switching to latex.

Latex Paint: Pluses and Minuses


  • Cleans up easily with soap and water
  • Dries quickly
  • Has a milder odor and is friendlier to the environment
  • Doesn’t yellow over time; retains color longer
  • Can be painted over oil paint


  • Doesn’t adhere to all surfaces well
  • Can shrink when it dries 

Because it’s easy to use and easy to clean up, latex paint is a popular choice for DIYers painting their home’s interior or exterior. The color resists sun-fading well so you may be able to go longer between paint jobs. It’s also ideal for painting over previously-painted latex.

Read: “Can Latex Cover Oil-Based Paint?”

latex paint

Choosing the Right Sheen

A paint’s sheen, or finish, is the ability of a paint to reflect light. Flat paint finishes reflect the least amount of light whereas high-gloss paints give off the most shine. The sheen will also impact how washable the paint is and how well it hides imperfections. The less sheen the better coverage for imperfections. However, the higher gloss the more durable.

Let’s look at the most common paint finishes so you can pick the one best for your space.

Flat paint: As the name suggests this paint finish has no sheen and is a perfect option for ceilings and interior walls. Slightly chalky to the touch, this finish hides small bumps, cracks, and other surface imperfections. Flat paint doesn’t stand up to regular washing, therefore, is a less than ideal option for bathrooms or kitchens where you might want to wipe down the walls regularly. them. 

Eggshell paint: This is a versatile option that has a hint of sheen, however, is much more washable than flat paint. It’s a common choice for homes as it hides flaws well and is easier to maintain. This is an excellent choice for living rooms, offices, and bedrooms, and a better choice for kitchen and bathrooms than flat. 

Satin paint: Noticeably shinier than flat and eggshell, satin is also easy to maintain and resists dents and dings well. Satin paint is a wise choice for your windows, doors, and trim if you want them to pop. Given its durability, it’s an excellent option for bathrooms, kitchens, kids’ rooms, and high-traffic areas.

Semi-gloss and high-gloss paints: The paints are high on shine and low on hiding imperfections, especially dirt. The good news is that they are the easiest to clean on the sheen spectrum. Semi-gloss paints are ideal for bathrooms, kitchens, and any other rooms that will get a lot of wear and tear. High-gloss paints would likely be overwhelming on walls, especially in rooms that get a lot of natural light. Both semi-gloss and high-gloss are great paints for highlighting molding, trim, and architectural features. 

Read: What Paint Sheen Should I Use?

Finding the Right Paint and the Best Memphis-Area Painter

Picking the right paint makes a big difference in both how the finished product looks in the short term and how it endures in the long term. A Riggins painting expert can help you understand the different types of house paint from color selection to choosing the best formula and finish so you get it right the first time. We take pride in serving both residential and commercial clients in the greater Memphis area including Germantown, Cordova, Collierville, Lakeland, Eads, Arlington, and Bartlett. Schedule a free estimate with one of our professional painters today.

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