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Paint, Stain, and Solvents Buying Guide

Paint and stain can quickly transform interior walls, furniture, and exterior surfaces such as siding and decks. You don't have to be a pro to apply paint or stain, but the finished job will look better and last longer if you choose the best paint or stain for your specific surface. Use this buying guide to learn what type of paint or stain you should choose for your next home improvement project.

Types of Paint, Stain, and Solvents

Types of Paint, Stain, and Solvents

Choosing the right paint or stain can quickly become overwhelming because of the sheer number of choices, but understanding the key differences between various formulas can make the decision easier. In basic terms, primer prepares the surface for the top coat; paint coats the surface; and stain penetrates the surface and allows varying amounts of wood grain to show through. Paints are formulated differently depending on whether they'll be used inside or outside, so be sure to choose a paint or stain based on where it will be used and what surface it will be covering. Here are the primary types of paint and stain available.

Interior Paint

Designed to be used inside the house, this type of paint can be either water-base or oil-base. It's available in several different sheens. Because they are more rigid than exterior paints when dry, interior paints are easier to wash and less prone to scuffing.

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For a paint that??????s as versatile as it is beautiful, choose BEHR Premium Plus Zero VOC Satin Enamel Interior Paint. This rich,... all-surface sheen is great for any room in the house. The pearl-like finish makes it perfect for adding a pop of color to both walls and trim. Color: Urban Putty. read more

Ellington Fans

Inspired by mid-century industrial design, the Ellington Fans Regatto Ceiling Fan gives your living space a sophisticated, retro-c...hic aesthetic that is bound to turn heads. The eye is immediately drawn to the integrated halogen light kit that stands... read more


BEHR Premium Plus Zero VOC, Self-Priming Interior Semi-Gloss Enamel is 100% acrylic, provides a mildew resistant finish and is for cabinets and trim. This sheen resists stains, moisture and wear; provides ultimate durability and exceptional hide. The finish displays a radiant, sleek appearance. Color: Ocean Liner. read more


Behr Premium Plus Ultra Interior is a Low VOC, Paint and Primer in one that saves time and gives you superior coverage in fewer co...ats. It's performance driven paint and primer in one formulation features Nanoguard technology with an extra-protective shell that offers excellent stain removal and resistance, outstanding water and scuff resistance, and great touch up, coverage and hide, creating an easy to clean stays looking new longer finish. Choose from the sophisticated Behr Premium Plus Ultra collection of 386 exclusive, designer hues or choose from over 2000 beautiful Behr colors to find your perfect color. Color: Venetian Mask. read more

Exterior Paint

Designed to be used on exterior surfaces, this type of paint can be either water-base or oil-base. Exterior paint includes additives to help it resist fading, and its chemical composition allows it to be flexible enough to expand and contract with a home's siding. It's available in several sheens. You can find different formulas designed for specific surfaces, such as floor/porch paint and masonry paint.


Applied under interior or exterior paint, primers are designed to create a uniform surface that will improve the adhesion of the paint top coat. Primers also block tannin, water, grease, and smoke stains and prevent them from bleeding through the top coat. Like paints, primers are available in both water-base and oil-base formulas. Oil-base primers can be used with either oil- or water-base paints, but water-base primers are not recommended for use with oil-base paint.


Instead of coating the surface like paint, stain penetrates the surface and allows the natural texture of the surface to show through. Stain can be used on many different wood surfaces, such as furniture, siding, and decks. Stains are available in both water-base and oil-base (alkyd) formulas and in a variety of colors.

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1000+ Stain Remover

1000+ Stain Remover (formerly Winning Colours) is an ECO safe, skin friendly cleaning product. Cleans-up paint messes of all kinds... that happens on fabrics, carpet, upholstery and clothing. It also cleans up oil base paint, pet messes, food stains, blood stains, oily, greasy gunk of all kinds, Graffitt, Scuff Marks, Nail Polish, car detailing, paint brushes, and 100's more. read more


Better than Stirring - Shaking most coatings is better than stirring because it's faster and more thorough than stirring. This pne...umatic paint shaker uses less than 2 cfm at 90-120 psi. The rubber coated clamps adjust to securely hold round pint, quart or gallon cans. Shaker can be mounted to your workbench. 1 year manufacturer's warranty. Imported. read more


Spray an OEM-matching satin black finish on exterior trim surfaces Trim Black is the best way to restore faded and peeling black e...xterior trim parts because it offers maximum adhesion on stainless steel and chrome. Aerosol covers up to 6 sq. ft. Withstands up to 250 degreesF read more

1 Shot

Add the brilliance of these top quality enamel paints to your vehicle's design. They can be applied by airbrush, roller, or brush.... The choice paints of professionals for pinstriping and lettering because of their excellent flow and durable, long-lasting finish. read more


Ideal for garage floors, this durable, plasticlike coating is tougher than other paints and stains and is able to withstand the heat from hot tires. (As you drive on hot streets in the summer, your car's tires absorb heat and can cause standard floor paint to peel or stain.) Epoxy is not suited for damp floors, however.

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at Lowe's

Lifetime warranty 100 solids. Commercialindustrial grade. This kit contains Part A B mixing bucket prep solution gloves DVD writte...n instruction booklet mechanical mixer brush squeegee 9 roller co. read more

at Lowe's

Lifetime warranty 100 solids. Commercialindustrial grade. This kit contains Part A B mixing bucket prep solution gloves DVD writte...n instruction booklet mechanical mixer brush squeegee 9 roller co. read more

$1,405.80 $2,343.00

Toto LLT151-61 Glass Universal Epoxy Resin Round Vessel Lavatory. Bathroom Sinks > Vessel Single Bowl. Epoxy Resin Round Vessel La...vatory:. read more

at Lowe's

Lifetime Warranty 100 Solids. CommercialIndustrial Grade. This kit contains Part A B color Part A B Clear mixing bucket prep solut...ion gloves dvdwritten instruction booklet mechanical mixer brush. read more


Usually available in liquid form, solvents can be used to thin paint, as well as to clean and prep the painting surface. Many solvents are flammable and emit toxic fumes, so you need to wear safety equipment and work in a well-ventilated area. Some solvents—including mineral spirits, turpentine, denatured alcohol, linseed oil, and lacquer thinner—can be used to thin various substances, so it's important to choose the right one for your job.

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Klean Strip

Klean Strip Odorless Painter??????s Solvent is a premium highly refined solvent. It contains mineral spirits. It??????s low odor a...nd dries with minimal residue. Odorless Painter??????s Solvent is not intended to be used as a thinner or brush cleaner in SCAQMD. read more


Better than Stirring - Shaking most coatings is better than stirring because it's faster and more thorough than stirring. This pne...umatic paint shaker uses less than 2 cfm at 90-120 psi. The rubber coated clamps adjust to securely hold round pint, quart or gallon cans. Shaker can be mounted to your workbench. 1 year manufacturer's warranty. Imported. read more

Seymour of Sycamore
at Amazon

A special water based formulation for touching up stains that appear on both textured and acoustical ceiling tiles. Will not warp ...or sag tiles. Maintains acoustical properties. Easy overhead application. VOC Compliant. As a responsible corporate citizen, Seymour of Sycamore is thoroughly committed to protecting the natural environment and ensuring the well-being of our employees. This means not only providing a safe, clean and healthy workplace, but also fulfilling our legal and social responsibilities within the community. Seymour has developed coatings with waterborne and high-solids resins as an alternative to traditional solvent-based polymers. Seymour products do not contain lead, cadmium, mercury, chromates or chlorinated solvents. read more


Duplicate Clear Zinc Plating Resist temperatures up to 300 F Keeps parts looking brand new Natural low 11-15% gloss finish Duplica...te Plating with the Ease of an Aerosol Application - Clear Zinc duplicates the exact appearance of Clear Zinc plating. This blue/gray OEM plating was used on a variety of components such as disc brake dust shields, coil brackets, pulleys, alternator fans, vacuum advance canisters, relays, hose clamps and misc. brackets. Eastwood has duplicated the exact hue in a durable, easily applied aerosol enamel formulation. 12 oz net wt. aerosol covers up to 6 sq. ft.Due to the new regulations pertaining to paint recycling we are unable to ship this product to Alberta Canada at this time. read more

Product Features

Product Features

Although various types of paint may look similar, their chemical composition can be very different. Paint can include a variety of additives, or additional chemicals, that can change properties of the paint. Additives in exterior paint can help it resist mildew, for example, while additives in interior paint can make it easier to clean. Here are a few features to look for when selecting paint for your project.


Many paints—especially oil-base paints—include volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can be dangerous to humans and the environment. More paint companies now offer low-VOC paint that poses less of a health risk and is more eco-friendly.

Nonskid Additives

These gritty additives can be added to floor paint to make floors less slippery.

Mildew Resistance

Some paints offer mildew resistance, which is especially important for exterior paint and interior paint used in kitchens, baths, and damp areas, such as basements. Water-base stains are also mildew-resistant, whereas some oil-base stains can encourage mildew growth. If you opt for an oil-base stain, look for one that specifically says it's mildew-resistant.

Hiding Ability

If you're painting a light color over a dark wall, you'll want to choose a paint that has good hiding ability.

Scrub Resistance

In rooms that get a lot of use (kids' rooms, family rooms, and kitchens, for example), a paint that can stand up to a vigorous cleaning is beneficial.

Resistance to Cracking

When choosing an exterior paint, look for one that resists cracking. If the paint finish cracks, it will expose the siding or trim underneath the paint to the elements, potentially resulting in surface damage.

Chalking Resistance

This feature helps prevent the buildup of a white chalky powder on an exterior surface. If you use an exterior paint that does not have chalking resistance, the paint will start to become streaked as the binder in the paint slowly degrades over time.

Blister Resistance

Paints with this component will help prevent moisture from coming through the paint surface and causing the paint to blister.

Purchase Considerations

Purchase Considerations

You have a lot to think about when choosing a paint or stain. You'll obviously need to consider color, but you'll also want to think about what paint sheen is best for your painting surface, or whether you want an opaque or transparent stain. Is easy cleanup important to you? Can you handle the strong fumes of oil-base paint? Also consider the type of surface you'll be painting—different paints and stains are better for different surfaces. And be sure to consider quality, because all paints are not created equal.


Deciding on a color can be the toughest part of purchasing paint. Plan to buy a sample jar or a quart of paint, and try out the color on various walls before committing to one. Look at the sample areas at various times of day, so you can see how the color looks under natural light and when indoor lighting is used.


Both interior and exterior paints are available in a variety of sheens. Flat paint is good for hiding imperfections, but it doesn't offer much stain-resistance; use flat paint on living room and dining room walls and exterior siding. Eggshell and satin finishes have a slight sheen; they work well in family rooms, kids' rooms, and hallways. Semigloss paint is easy to clean but shows imperfections in the surface; use this paint for kitchen and bathroom walls and windowsills. Use semigloss and gloss exterior paints on trim, as they'll show off the details of the woodwork.


The opacity of stains allows various amounts of the wood grain to show through the finish. Clear stains show off the wood grain the best, but they offer minimal protection from the elements and will need to be reapplied often. Semitransparent stains let some of the wood grain show through and offer more protection than clear stains. Solid stains form an outer coating on the wood surface, which hides the wood grain; they usually last longer than clear and semitransparent stains.

Oil-Base vs. Water-Base

Water-base paints are easier to clean up than oil-base paints, dry more quickly, and emit a less-powerful odor. However, oil-base paints can be a better choice in some circumstances. Oil-base paints can prevent stains and rust from bleeding through the paint, for example, so they're better for chalky and stained surfaces and metals that rust. Oil-base primers can be a good choice for raw interior wood.

Painting Surface

For the best results, be sure to choose a primer and paint that work well with the surface you'll be painting. Various primers are designed for use on specific materials—wood, concrete, and metals such as galvanized steel, iron, and aluminum. Also be sure to carefully clean and prep the surface before painting to ensure a long-lasting finish.


When it comes to paints and stains, it pays to pay more. Low-quality interior paints will require more coats than top-of-the-line products, and economy grades of exterior paints and stains won't hold up as well as high-quality versions. If you opt for a cheap line of paint, you may save money now but end up paying more in the long run.

Home Improvement on sale

$9.97 $12.99
at Walmart

Handy Paint Pail (2500). For use with all paints, stains, and solvents Adjustable strap to hold hand comfortably and firmly agains...t side-reduces fatigue in arm, hand and fingers Built-in magnetic brush holder Built-in brush scraper to remove excess paint/stain For hands-free use, adjust strap to tightest setting and secure on belt Durable construction Replacement liner Ace No. 1099803 read more

Paint Pail 2500
$6.82 $9.99
at Walmart

Krylon 7702 Appliance Touch-Up Tubes, Almond A quick and effective way to touch up or repair the finish of your appliances. Krylon... 7702 Appliance Touch-Up Tubes, Almond Features: Almond Available in 1.7 oz Scratch & chip repair 2 applicators in 1- roller ball tip for precision, brush for versatility Easy one-step application Dry to Touch: 10 minutes Dry to Handle: 1 hours For use with: Metal. A quick and effective way to touch up or repair the look of your appliances It's a great way to keep your appliances looking new after years of use Scratch and chip repair 2 applicators in 1, rollerball tip for precision, brush for versatility Use on metal appliances Almond .5 oz read more

Touch Up Paint - Appliance Almond
$4.54 $6.77
at Walmart

Rust-Oleum 245217 Universal Hammered Spray Paint, Black (6 Pack) Rust-Oleum 245217 Universal Hammered Spray Paint, Black (6 Pack) ...Features: Paints on wood, plastic, metal, concrete and more Ergonomic design eliminates finger fatigue Unique drip guard prevents paint on finger Advanced Delivery System for fast and complete coverage Hammered Black read more

245217 Universal Hammered Spray Paint, Black (6 Pack)
$3.74 $4.68
at Walmart

Spray Paint, Solvent Base Type, Resin Type Enamel, Stainless, Gloss Finish, Net Weight 12 Oz., Coverage 7 Sq. Ft., Dry Time 5 To 9... Hr., Dry Time Recoat 30 Min., Dry Time Tack Free 2 To 4 Hr., Application Temperature 50 To 90 Degrees F, Surface Metal, Interior/exterior read more

Specialty Spray Paint (stainless) 12 Oz. Model: 7887830 10Z873
$6.49 $8.49
at Walmart

Colortool Floral Metallics Spray Paint 12 Ounces - Copper. Design Master - Colortool Metallic Floral Aerosol Spray. This Floral sp...ray features professional color control for all your floral and decorative projects. Specially formulated sprays provide clean; crisp; consistent color that dries quickly. Use on fresh; dried and silk flowers; dried floral materials; foam products; delicate fabrics; ribbon; paper mache; ceramics; pottery; wicker; wood; plastic; glass; metal and most other decorative surfaces. This package contains on 12oz can of Satin finish color. Available in a variety of colors. Non-toxic when dry. Contains no CFCs. Danger: extremely flammable. Contents under pressure. Harmful if inhaled or absorbed through the skin. Made in USA. read more

WMU 654168 12 Ounces Colortool Floral Metallics Spray Paint - Copper
$4.44 $5.77
at Walmart

For indoor/outdoor use Durable, corrosion-resistant Apply directly over rust Offers a rich, distinctive hammered look Features a c...omfort tip with a wider finger pad to reduce fatigue caused by continuous spraying, Manufacturer: Rust-Oleum read more

250898 12-Ounce Spray Paint, Hammered Metal Finish Ivory
$3.67 $4.77
at Walmart

Rust-Oleum 7777830 Satin Enamel Finish Spray Paint (6 Pack), Black Rust-Oleum Satin Spray is a low-sheen satin finish for metal, w...ood, concrete or masonry. Use on furniture, fixtures and outdoor dcor. Dries into smooth, protective enamel. It features a comfort tip with a wider finger pad to reduce fatigue caused by continuous spraying. In addition, there is an any-angle spray feature that allows you to spray in any direction, even upside-down. Rust-Oleum 7777830 Satin Enamel Finish Spray Paint (6 Pack), Black Features: Classic low sheen finish Excellent coverage Chip resistant Rust preventative Satin finish 12 oz rosol Satin Black read more

7777830 Satin Enamel Finish Spray Paint (6 Pack), Black
Ralph Lauren
$2.94 $3.94
at Home Depot

Ralph Lauren Specialty Finishes are the cornerstone of Ralph Lauren Paint. They are one-of-a-kind exclusive finishes that provide, texture and dimension to the home. Over-sized color samples are available to assist in choosing that just right finish and color. Color: Purple Coneflower. read more

Color Chips & Fan Decks: Ralph Lauren Finish 13 in. x 19 in. #ME117 Purple Coneflower Metallic Specialty Paint Chip Sample ME117C

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