Having the correct type of paint for your home can make all the difference when it comes to painting, but it can be confusing. Am I supposed to use oil-based or water-based? What does “sheen” mean? And how do I know if I need primer or not? If you’re getting ready to touch up your walls, or start with some fresh color, use this list of house paint types to guide you in the right direction. Keep reading to find out what paint type is best for your Reno interior design and exterior design projects.    

Oil-Based Versus Latex-Based

Let’s start with the house paint basics. Should you be using an oil-based paint, or a latex-based paint? 

Oil-based paints, also called alkyd paint, are best used for home exteriors. This paint is made with oil and is perfect for covering rough or textured surfaces. It sticks to surfaces with ease and gives a smoother and harder enamel-like finish which prevents scratching and makes it more resistant to stains. Oil paint is also best used outside because of its durability and strength. And one thing to keep in mind regarding this paint type is that it takes more time to fully dry than latex paint, and it does have a strong odor.  

Latex-based paints are made from water rather than oil. For most interior projects, you’ll want to stick with a water-based paint because of the quick dry time and the fact that it cleans up easily. You can usually clean surfaces consisting of latex-based paint with the use of a wet rag. Water-based paints are also less shiny than their alternative, oil-based paints.

Primer: When is it necessary?Paint primer being applied over green wall

Primer is not considered paint, but it is an important part of the painting process. You should paint a coat of primer onto your walls before painting with the new color. Primer is used to help your paint adhere to the surface better, resulting in true vibrant colors. If the color of your wall is darker than the paint you are replacing it with, you’ll want to use a primer first. And if you’re switching from an oil-based to a water-based paint, or vice versa, you’ll want to use a primer that matches the new type of paint. 

The Different Types of House Paint Finishes


Flat finish is also known as a matte finish. This has the least amount of sheen (or shine) of all the finishes. It’s going to leave your walls looking flat, which gives it the matte finish. This is a good paint to use when you’re trying to hide imperfections on your wall such as bumps or scratches. Flat paint is perfect for covering roughly textured walls and surfaces. Avoid putting this on walls that are in high-trafficked areas because this paint is difficult to clean and usually requires harsh chemicals. 


Eggshell paint, also referred to as satin, has a slightly higher sheen than matte or flat paints. This paint isn’t shiny, but has some reflectivity to it. Eggshell finishes are highly recommended for high-trafficked areas of your home, such as the kitchen and living room, because of their durability, stain resistance, and the fact that they are easy to clean.   


Semigloss is a tough finish that doesn’t show much wear. This paint is highly durable and can withstand being repeatedly washed. Semigloss finishes do show most imperfections that are underneath because of how it reflects light. This is a good finish to use in rooms that obtain a lot of moisture like in bathrooms or laundry room. You can also use semigloss on wall trim and on doors. 


This has the highest sheen out of all the finishes. Gloss paint is great for covering window and door trim, as well as painting over furniture. While gloss finish is best for wall and door trim, you can use it on walls that you want to have a shinier look. This is a hard finish, which makes it very strong. 

Wall of color swatches at Reno Paint Mart Reno interior designReno Paint Mart Can Help

If you’re still unsure of what paint to use based on your specific needs, connect with the experts at Reno Paint Mart! Our knowledgable staff can answer questions to help you decide which paint finish will be best for your project and can help you find it in the store. We also offer free design consultations with our Reno interior design experts from our Reno Design Center for anyone that needs a little inspiration. Connect with us today!

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