Paint… What to know: part I

There are a ton of paints on the market today and more often then not, we purchase paint with little understanding of how paint works or what is in paint that we should be concerned with.  In addition, there are numerous tricks that paint manufacturers play that you should be aware of and know how to either recognize or ask questions about.

Most paint that you purchase at stores today is referred to as ‘latex’ paint. I put that in quotes because it really doesn’t have any latex and is commonly based in either water or another solvent.  In addition to the solvents, there are pigments, resins and additives that round off paints ingredients.  Solvents allow the paint ingredients to be mixed together.  Like oil and water, they don’t mix unless you have a solvent that can break them down first.  The Resin is the ‘solid’ content of the paint… this is what is left on the wall after all of the solvents have evaporated.  The pigments are just that, pigments that tint the paint to the desired color… usually some combination of 12 colorants.  Additives are the ‘extras’ that are added to paint in order to keep it mildew resistant, allow it to level or smooth out on the wall, make it not smell (we’ll talk about this), allow it to stick to the wall, etc…  I call the additives, the dummy factor.

So, now we have all the ingredients out there.  We can look at the base paint itself.  Base is the white (off-white) paint that is in the can, prior to tinting.  There are several names but typically the bases are called, Pastel (for light colors), Medium (for, you guessed it, medium colors), Deep (for, there is a theme here, deeper colors) and Accent (for intense or rich colors, think bright orange).  There are some variations in the names and some manufacturers call them Bases A, B, C, and D but for purposes of reference, we will use those mentioned here.

So, now lets dig a little deeper… We’ll do that in part II.


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