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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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YOLO Colorhouse
$176.00
at Amazon

YOLO Color house makes paint that is safer for your home, better for our planet. YOLO Color house paints are zero VOC, low odor, G...REEN WISE GOLD certified and are tinted with zero VOC colorants. We are committed to doing business in a more sustainable way - from packaging to process. Created by artists, YOLO Color house curated color palettes are designed to be harmonious and easy backdrops for living. 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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Cabot Stain

YBQ1023 Features Heavily pigmented and exceptionally thick stain Has been developed and tested for use in colder temperatures Does... not require the use of a primer coat on non extractive prone wood species such as pine, white cedar or cypress For use on new or reconditioned wood siding and shingles, cement siding, manufactured hardboards, previously painted surfaces, aluminum, masonry, stucco, and plywood panel siding Product Type: Acrylic Stains Location: Exterior Container Size: 1 Gal Opacity: Solid Generic Dimensions 13.75'' H x 7'' W x 8'' D, 8.12 lbs Dimensions Overall Height - Top to Bottom: 13.75 Overall Width - Side to Side: 7 Overall Depth - Front to Back: 8 Overall Product Weight: 8.12 read more

Wooster

Use with all latex or oil-based paint, stain, varnish, and sealer on walls, cabinets, doors, decks, and siding. Thumb latch secure...s pad in different position. Adjustable, cushioned handle. Use with extension pole to reach high places. Pad size 7 or 9 W x 3-1/2 H.Paint/StainInterior/ExteriorReplacement PadsWdth In=9 read more

Wooster

Use with all latex or oil-based paint, stain, varnish, and sealer on walls, cabinets, doors, decks, and siding. Thumb latch secure...s pad in different position. Adjustable, cushioned handle. Use with extension pole to reach high places. Pad size 7 or 9 W x 3-1/2 H.Paint/StainInterior/ExteriorReplacement PadsWdth In=9 read more

Cabot Stain

Solid Color Acrylic Siding Stain 100% acrylic, one-coat coverage, solid color stain Heavily pigmented & exceptionally thick Smooth...er spread & better coverage Fade-resistant & water-repellent Dries to a natural, flat finish Water-based, clean up with soap & water Smooth surface coverage: 300-400 sq.ft. per Gal. Rough surface coverage: 200-300 sq.ft. per Gal. SIZE = Quart, COLOR = Deep Base 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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Schlage

IVES has produced a full line of quality building hardware for over 120 years. Throughout this time, IVES has adhered to the firm ...convictions of its founder, Hobart B. Ives, that the success of a company is dependent on two major factors - product quality and customer service. read more

Schlage

IVES has produced a full line of quality building hardware for over 120 years. Throughout this time, IVES has adhered to the firm ...convictions of its founder, Hobart B. Ives, that the success of a company is dependent on two major factors - product quality and customer service. read more

3M
$24.66
at Amazon

3M Scotch-Weld DP105 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 4 min working time. Works in a mix ratio of 1:1. Delivers great performance with a shear strength of 2000 psi, tensile strength of 600 psi and peel strength of 35 piw. read more

3M
3M
$25.31
at Amazon

3M Scotch-Weld DP100 clear two-part epoxy adhesive is compatible with ceramic, fiberboard, glass, metal and wood materials with a ...48 hr cure time. Provides a 5 min working time. Works in a mix ratio of 1:1. Delivers great performance with a shear strength of 1500 psi and peel strength of 2 piw. read more

3M

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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POR-15

POR-15's solvent is specially formulated for the easy cleanup or thinning of POR-15 rust preventative paint. It is available in yo...ur choice of quart or gallon sizes. Use this when spraying POR-15 through a paint gun, or general thinning. read more

Uni-ram
$2,843.99 $4,090.00
at ToolTopia.com

Dual, Two Tank Model, Right Tank equivalent to a UM120W, Left Tank to a UG4000E Right Tank Cleaning Cycle: High Pressure Water act...ivated by Foot Pedal Right Tank Manual Cleaning: Flow through Brush & Wash Nozzle Left Tank Cleaning Cycle: Wash, Air Flush, Clean Rinse (100cc) and Air Flush Diaphragm Pump: Air Consumption: 2 CFM Output: 3 US Gal per minute at 85 PSI read more

POR-15

POR-15's solvent is specially formulated for the easy cleanup or thinning of POR-15 rust preventative paint. It is available in yo...ur choice of quart or gallon sizes. Use this when spraying POR-15 through a paint gun, or general thinning. read more

Walmart.com

P-Trap with Solvent Weld Joint, Pipe Size 2 In., Connection Type Hub x Hub, ABS Body Material, Temp. Range -40 Degrees to 180 Degr...ees F, Standards Cell Class 32222 As Defined In ASTM D3965 For Material, ASTM D2665 For Dimensions And Performance, D3311 For Patterns And Laying Length Features Connection : Hub Item : P-Trap with Solvent Weld Joint Package Quantity : 1 Standards : Cell Class 32222 As Defined In ASTM D3965 For Material, ASTM D2665 For Dimensions And Performance, D3311 For Patterns And Laying Length Material of Construction : ABS Pipe Size : 2 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
Interlux Paint
$264.49 $407.99
at Walmart.com

Interlux Ultra with Biolux Antifouling Boat Bottom Paint Ultra with Biolux is a high strength antifouling paint with a high load o...f cuprous oxide. Ultra uses Biolux technology to block slime and improve antifouling performance. New fast dry formula allow read more

Ultra With Biolux Antifouling Boat Bottom Paint
Interlux Paint
$59.23 $98.99
at Walmart.com

Interlux Interstrip Semi-Paste Marine Paint Stripper Interstrip Semi-Paste Paint and Varnish Stripper. Quart Size ***WILL SHIP GRO...UND ONLY TO THE CONTIGUOUS 48 STATES ONLY*** read more

Interlux Interstrip Semi-paste Marine Paint Stripper
Husky
$29.97 $39.99
at Walmart.com

Husky 12 ft. x 400 ft. Plastic Sheeting features lightweight construction and is perfect for do-it-yourself projects. Ideal for ma...ny paint projects, covering furniture from dust and paint. Product may also be used as an overspray shield. Color: Clear. read more

Tarps, Drop Cloths & Plastic Sheeting: Husky Painting Supplies 12 ft. x 400 ft. Clear 0.7-mil. Polyethylene Sheeting CFHK00712-400C
Rust-Oleum
$2.63 $6.57
at Walmart.com

Automotive Touch Up Paint, Cardinal Red, Gloss Finish, Container Size 0.5 Oz., Dry Time 1 Hr., Dry Time Recoat 24 Hr., Dry Time Ta...ck Free 1 Hr., Voc Content 702g/l, Application Temperature 50 To 90 Degrees F, Application Method Brush And Needle Tip, For Use With Ford read more

Touchup Paint (cardinal Red) .5 Oz. Model: FD50004A 6PEF9
Homax
$9.64 $16.99
at Walmart.com

Features:Appliance touch up paint Hides chips and scratches For use on refrigerators, stoves, washers and more Almond  What's... In The Box:Homax 5554 Appliance Touch Up Paint, Almond read more

5554 Appliance Touch Up Paint, Almond
Krylon
$75.53 $167.40
at Walmart.com

High solids formulation for bold, bright, visible markingsFast-dryingPenetrates and adheres to hot surfacesConvenient Spray-Thru c...ap, non-clogging spray tipVOC compliant, free-of-lead hazards read more

425-S03631: Quik-Mark APWA Solvent-Based Inverted Ma
Great American Marketing
$54.06 $70.13
at Walmart.com

Great American PT09144 9 Plastic Paint Tray Liners (144 Pack) Great American PT09144 9 Plastic Paint Tray Liners (144 Pack) Featur...es: Paint tray liners Fits all standard 9 trays Ribbed tray for even loading Plastic 9 read more

Great American PT09144 9 Plastic Paint Tray Liners (144 Pack)
Purdy
$21.61 $37.35
at Walmart.com

For all paints Beavertail, natural hardwood handle Square edge, brushed copper ferrule NYLON/POLYESTER BRISTLE BLEND Wdth In=4

Corporation 400340 4-Inch XL Swan Professional Varnish and Enamel
Valspar
$19.99 $26.54
at Walmart.com

Valspar 8080 HP 1/2 Pint Gloss Interior Water-Borne Polyurethane Paint Valspar has Paints, varnishes, and stains for the do-it-you...rself and professional markets. The Valspar Corporation's mission is to be the best coatings company in the world as judged by our customers, shareholders, employees, suppliers and the communities in which we operate. Valspar 8080 HP 1/2 Pint Gloss Interior Water-Borne Polyurethane Paint Features: An acrylic polyurethane that provides crystal clear protection with the ease of fast-drying and water clean-up For use on most types of wood such as Oak, Pine, Fir, Birch, Aspen, Maple, Cypress, Mahogany and Redwood One gallon covers up to 400-500 square feet depending on surface porosity Do not thin Gloss 1/2 pint read more

8080 HP 1/2 Pint Gloss Interior Water-Borne Polyurethane Paint
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