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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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Krylon
$44.05 $54.18
at Shoplet.com

GLOSS BLACK 5 BALL INTERIOR/EXTERIOR SPRAY PAINT VOC-compliant acrylic lacquer formula, free of lead hazardsHard, protective, dura...ble finishHigh amount of solids assures maximum coverage with excellent adhesionDries fast, in just 12 minutes to the touchTough, high-gloss finishUniform coverageNo recoat window, recoat anytime Color: Glossy BlackCapacity Wt.: 12 ozPacking Type: Aerosol CanChemical Compound: AcrylicFix Cure Time @ Temp.: 12 min @ 77 FSpecific Gravity: 0.7600Applicable Materials: Metal Surfaces, WoodResistance: Wear, WeatherType: Industrial PaintQuantity: 6 per caseWt.: 1 lb read more

Krylon
$40.01 $43.68
at Shoplet.com

ALMOND FIVE BALL INTERIOR/EXTERIOR SPRAY PAINT VOC-compliant acrylic lacquer formula, free of lead hazardsHard, protective, durabl...e finishHigh amount of solids assures maximum coverage with excellent adhesionDries fast, in just 12 minutes to the touchTough, high-gloss finishUniform coverageNo recoat window, recoat anytime Color: AlmondCapacity Wt.: 12 ozPacking Type: Aerosol CanChemical Compound: AcrylicFix Cure Time @ Temp.: 12 min @ 77 FSpecific Gravity: 0.7600Applicable Materials: Metal Surfaces, WoodResistance: Wear, WeatherType: Industrial PaintQuantity: 6 per case read more

Krylon
$16.24
at Zoro

Interior Paint, Water Base Type, Acrylic Latex Resin Type, Black, Flat Finish, Size 1 gal., VOC Content 57g/L, Coverage 350 to 400... sq. ft., Dry Time 1 hr. read more

Krylon
$15.85
at Zoro

Interior Paint, Water Base Type, Latex Resin Type, Antique White, Flat Finish, Size 1 Gal., Voc Content 40g/l, Coverage 350 To 400... Sq. Ft., Dry Time 1 Hr. 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.

Primer

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.

Stain

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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Wagner

Shop for Paint at The Home Depot. The Wagner optimus stain Tip is designed for use with wagner power painters with optimus technol...ogy. It provides a fan-shaped pattern. The both horizontally and vertically, to achieve an even finish. read more

Restore
$24.98
at Amazon

1 Gallon-Acrylic Liquid Armor Resurfacer is formulated to use on decks and concrete patios, walks, steps and more. The 1-part, acr...ylic formula is water based, and it is ready for application. Application is on average 10% of the cost of replacement. read more

Restore
$24.98
at Amazon

1 Gallon-Acrylic Liquid Armor Resurfacer is formulated to use on decks and concrete patios, walks, steps and more. The 1-part, acr...ylic formula is water based, and it is ready for application. Application is on average 10% of the cost of replacement. read more

Restore
$24.98
at Amazon

1 Gallon-Acrylic Liquid Armor Resurfacer is formulated to use on decks and concrete patios, walks, steps and more. The 1-part, acr...ylic formula is water based, and it is ready for application. Application is on average 10% of the cost of replacement. read more

Epoxy

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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Loctite
$20.65
at Amazon

For over 50 years, Loctite has provided customers with advanced adhesive and sealing solutions. Loctite Epoxy 1 Minute Instant Mix... is a two-part adhesive consisting of an epoxy resin and a hardener. When mixed in equal volumes, the resin and hardener react to produce a tough, rigid, high strength bond, which starts to set in 1 minute and reaches handling strength in 5 to 10 minutes. The static mix nozzle delivers a uniform mixture of resin and hardener every time. It can be used as an adhesive for a wide range of materials or as versatile filler for gap bonding, surface repairs and laminating. Loctite Epoxy 1 Minute Instant Mix does not shrink and is resistant to water and most common solvents. It can be tinted with earth pigments, cement or sand for color matching and can be sanded and drilled. Our uncompromising level of quality and innovation is achieved through a strong commitment to research and development. This commitment to innovation, quality and reliability has truly earned Loctite the reputation of delivering "Trusted Performance. Proven Results". read more

3M
$22.99
at Amazon

3M Scotch-Weld DP110 clear two-part epoxy adhesive is compatible with ceramic, fiberboard, glass, metal, plastic, rubber and wood ...materials with a 48 hr cure time. Provides a 10 min working time. Works in a mix ratio of 1:1. Delivers great performance with a shear strength of 3500 psi and peel strength of 20 piw. read more

3M
3M
$17.00
at Amazon

3M Scotch-Weld DP110 white two-part epoxy adhesive is compatible with ceramic, fiberboard, glass, metal, plastic, rubber and wood ...materials with a 48 hr cure time. Provides a 10 min working time. Works in a mix ratio of 1:1. Delivers great performance with a shear strength of 3500 psi and peel strength of 20 piw. read more

3M
ITW Devcon

Devcon Marine/Plastic Epoxy Putty can be used to seal and fill fiberglass, hard plastics, PVC piping, tiles, fixtures, etc.

Solvents

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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Rust-Oleum

Don't settle for anything less than the number 1 rust-preventative paint on the market. Nothing protects your projects like oil-ba...sed Rust-Oleum Stops Rust Protective Enamel. With 40 popular colors in three sheens, it's never been easier to refinish, refresh and relax. read more

Rust-Oleum

Don't settle for anything less than the number 1 rust-preventative paint on the market. Nothing protects your projects like oil-ba...sed Rust-Oleum Stops Rust Protective Enamel. With 40 popular colors in three sheens, it's never been easier to refinish, refresh and relax. read more

Rust-Oleum

Don't settle for anything less than the number 1 rust-preventative paint on the market. Nothing protects your projects like oil-ba...sed Rust-Oleum Stops Rust Protective Enamel. With 40 popular colors in three sheens, it's never been easier to refinish, refresh and relax. read more

Rust-Oleum
$13.92
at Amazon

Don't settle for anything less than the number 1 rust-preventative paint on the market. Nothing protects your projects like oil-ba...sed Rust-Oleum Stops Rust Protective Enamel. With 40 popular colors in three sheens, it's never been easier to refinish, refresh and relax. 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.

Low-VOC

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.

Color

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.

Sheen

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.

Opacity

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.

Quality

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
Dymon
$86.50 $165.00
at Wayfair

Dymon? Graffiti / Paint Remover Jelled Formula Aerosol Features: -Aerosol can.-Graffiti and paint remover comes in an aerosol can....-Versatile formula can be used on most surfaces.-Jelled formula will not run off vertical surfaces.-Cleaner stays on the surface long enough to emulsify and work harder to remove paint and graffiti.-Capacity: 20 oz.-Style: Sprayers.-Chemical Size: 20 - 30 ounces.-Pack Size: Individual.-Country of Manufacture: United States.Dimensions: -0.9'' H x 0.7'' W x 1'' D.-Overall Height - Top to Bottom: 0.9.-Overall Width - Side to Side: 0.7.-Overall Depth - Front to Back: 1.-Overall Product Weight: 17. 7820 read more

Dymon Graffiti / Paint Remover Jelled Formula Aerosol 7820
American Standard
$13.95 $19.41
at Wayfair

Finish: Bone American Standard Paint Enamel Steel Touch-Up Features: -Available in white or bone.-Product Type: Mounting Kits.-Fin...ish: . 070900-XXX0A read more

American Standard Paint Enamel Steel Touch-Up 070900-XXX0A Finish: Bone
American Standard
$10.14 $15.60
at Wayfair

American Standard Paint Enamel Steel Touch-Up Features: -Available in white or bone.-Product Type: Mounting Kits.-Finish: . 070900...-XXX0A read more

American Standard Paint Enamel Steel Touch-Up 070900-XXX0A
American Standard
$10.14 $15.60
at Wayfair

Finish: White Heat American Standard Paint Enamel Steel Touch-Up Features: -Available in white or bone.-Product Type: Mounting Kit...s.-Finish: . 070900-XXX0A read more

American Standard Paint Enamel Steel Touch-Up 070900-XXX0A Finish: White Heat
QBProducts

Can of microwave (pearl / off white) cavity spray paint. 6oz. Specifically formulated for use inside microwave oven cavities.

98QBP0300 Appliance Spray Paint (Pearl / Off White)
QBProducts

Can of microwave (Snow / Bright White) cavity spray paint. 6oz. Specifically formulated for use inside microwave oven cavities. A ...$10 fee is included in the price of this item, for shipping hazardous material. read more

98QBP0302 Appliance Spray Paint (Snow / Bright White)
3M
$119.94 $155.92
at DiscountFilters.com

Features and Benefits: Levels orange peel, dust nibs or paint runs in all types of paints and is appropriate for light sanding on ...refinish lacquer 3Ms fastest cutting, longest lasting abrasive for saving labor costs and improving quality Abrasive mineral type: silicon carbide ANSI grade: 1200 Suggested hand sanding pad: MMM05530 read more

2022 5-1/2-inch x 9-inch Micro Fine Hand Pad Sandpaper Sheets 1200G - 50-Pack
3M
MSA
$422.51 $586.65
at Shoplet.com

Provides emergency respiratory protection against carbon monoxide gas resulting from underground fires or explosions. One time use... device for escape purposes only. Protected by a rugged stainless steel case. Do not use in atmospheres containing less than 19.5 oxygen or in atmospheres containing other toxic gases and vapors.. read more

W65 Self-Rescuer Respirators - 455299
MSA
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