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What is enamel?

Traditionally, enamel paint is known as a glossy oil paint with exceptional hardness and durability. Today, in terms of associating enamel with latex, such as a latex flat enamel, it would indicate an increased level of durability. Consider the presence of enamel as promoting a relative degree of hardness: For instance, a latex flat enamel would produce a harder film than regular latex.

The benefits of using an enamel paint include:

  1. Scrubbability - the ability to more easily clean difficult stains off walls.
  2. Durability - the ability to withstand more frequent cleanings without affecting the look of the finish.

Enamels are typically used in rooms that require frequent cleaning, such as kitchens and bathrooms.


Why are some paints more expensive than others?

Premium-quality paint is formulated with the characteristics all consumers demand, namely:

  • Excellent "hide," or surface coverage
  • Stain and scrub resistance
  • Broad colour choices and sheen selection
  • Long-term durability

To be a low-cost solution, economy paints invariably have to make compromises in terms of the quality of the raw materials that are used; while these products do the job of covering your walls, lower-cost materials can translate into less desirable paint attributes.

Economy paint may seem like a bargain, based on shelf price alone, but it becomes anything but a bargain when twice the amount of paint is required to compensate for the lack of hide—not to mention the increased length of time that is necessary to complete a project. The paint may also lack durability and thus the coverage may need to be repeated.

When comparing similar products (such as one latex semi-gloss paint to another latex semi-gloss paint), the higher quality products will always provide greater durability, because they have better resin packages. This means they contain more or better "activators" that help form what you know as "paint" that applies to your walls. They will also deliver better adhesion and tougher protection against frequent washing. Higher quality paints tend to have more solids, or more film protecting the surface when the liquid evaporates. More solids means better hiding properties, which translates into fewer applications, and time and money savings for you. These paints also tend to offer better application properties, like low spatter and good flow. High-quality exterior paints offer better mildew protection.

If these properties are important to you, then a higher quality paint is worth the price difference.


What makes one paint "hide" better than another?

Much of the hiding—or surface coverage—in paints depends on four key factors:

  1. Colour. Bright reds and yellows tend to do a poorer job of hiding colours—in any type or quality level of paint. The pigments and bases used to make these colours just tend to have poor opacity, which means they tend to deliver uneven coverage.
  2. Contrast. If the colour to be painted is a high contrast to what is currently on the surface (e.g., off white to go over a bright blue), the odds of achieving coverage in one coat will be diminished.
  3. Application. Two factors come into play: First, good quality applicators do a better job of applying paint, and more uniformly, than poor applicators. As a result, they achieve better hide, or coverage. Second, painting technique is a factor that could contribute to overspreading the product. Depending on surface porosity and the specific product being used, many latex paints cover 400 square feet per gallon. One fully loaded roller should cover an area of about 9 square feet. Adding water to latex paint may seem to make it go further, but it will affect coverage.
  4. Paint quality. A good formulation makes a difference. Lighter colours from the best quality paints will generally hide, or cover, better than similar colours of low quality, less expensive paints.

What is the advantage of priming? Why should I prime before applying a one-coat paint?

Priming can save you time and money, especially if you are applying paint for the first time to a surface, or covering a dark colour or stain. Generally speaking, primers are less expensive than paint. If the surfaces you are painting are clean and are similar in colour, a primer may not be required. If you need to prime, it is advised to use primer instead of paint because of its bonding, sealing and hiding properties.

Some primers are for made for general-purpose use on new surfaces, and others solve specific problems. Primers are designed to be used on new surfaces to create a good bond and seal over the surface, so your paint doesn't soak into a porous surface unevenly. Good primers tend to be thinner, with less viscosity (or thickness) than paints, and contain relatively more resin than pigment. This formulation allows them to penetrate and form a secure bond to the surface. A well-primed surface allows the top coat to lie uniformly on the surface, which makes it look and perform better.

Certain types of primers are designed to perform specific functions, such as:

  • Blocking stains
  • Resisting rust
  • Adhering to glossy surfaces or
  • Achieving dramatic colour changes, like dark to light or light to dark

Failure to use a primer may well result in the failure of the project, necessitating repetition and additional cost.


I use an exterior paint inside the home, or an interior paint outside?

No. It is important to use products as they are labeled. Interior paints are not usually designed to withstand the sun's rays, or bad weather, or contraction and expansion cycles of the substrates in changing temperatures. Exterior paints normally are not evaluated for indoor air conditions. However, if a product is labeled "Interior/Exterior," then you can be confident of its performance in both environments.


What is a tint base?

To enable stores to offer thousands of colours, like Valspar does, we manufacture a series of tint bases for each finish and colourant formula. Each tint base is formulated to work within a range of colours. When you select a colour, the experts in the store know which tint base to use to achieve the truest colour. Check with your store associate to make sure that you are getting the proper tint base. Through the use of tint bases, you gain access to the maximum number of colour choices so you can achieve the desired finish.


What are the differences in sheens or finishes? When should one be used?

Flat paints have virtually no gloss and are excellent in terms of hiding surface imperfections and any underlying colours. They do a less-than-desirable job, however, of providing stain resistance, so they should be used in more formal rooms that receive minimal traffic.

Flat enamel paints do a great job of providing hide, just like conventional flat paints, but they also offer a bit of stain resistance not possible with conventional flat paints. A flat enamel paint will offer more durability in low-traffic areas.

Satin finishes deliver a shinier looking, "warmer" finish than flat paints. Satin paints do a good job in terms of hide (or coverage), as well as offer stain and scrub resistance qualities. This makes them ideal for living rooms, dining room, hallways and bedrooms.

Semi-gloss finishes enhance a room by their shiny, "rich and lustrous" look. Semi-gloss paints offer excellent stain and scrub resistance and therefore are ideal for all rooms, including kitchens and bathrooms; they are also ideal for use on trim.

Gloss paints offer the shiniest of all finishes. They also deliver the best performance in terms of stain and scrub resistance, and are ideal for use in high traffic areas that experience a lot of wear and tear, such as garages, utility rooms, recreation rooms, trim and doors.

View our helpful how-to information on Choosing the Right Finish


I don't know what colour to choose. How can I get ideas for colours? offers a number of tools to help you with your selections. Begin by choosing a colour family, or get inspiration by browsing photographs or room shots of interior and exterior spaces. Go to Explore Colours to help you identify the right mood, or ideal look and feel for your space. You can also upload, directly onto our Web site, an actual photograph of your room or house and apply different colours to your walls—until you find the right fit. Maybe you'll venture out of your comfort zone and try a daring colour! This tool offers you a risk-free way to get comfortable with any colour.

Interiors - Keep in mind any "fixed" items in the room, such as carpet, curtains and light fixtures; make sure the colours you choose will complement these features. Light colours give small rooms the appearance of spaciousness, and dark colours visually "shrink" large rooms. Bright, warm colours—such as reds, oranges and yellows—bring light and warmth to rooms without much natural light. Cool colours—such as blues and greens—tone down bright rooms. Monochromatic colour schemes, where two or more colours of varying lightness and darkness are chosen from the same colour family, offer balance and a soothing experience for the eyes and are typically easy to achieve.

Exteriors - Look around the neighborhood for ideas, focusing on houses you like, or houses with a similar architecture style as yours or houses built with similar building materials. If your home is made of a rich brick for example, you may want to choose a neutral colour on the windows. Don't forget the colour statement of your front door and/or garage door. Use colour to emphasize architectural details.

Browse for ideas in Find Ideas.


Can I use regular paint on a floor? Why are there special floor coatings?

Horizontal surfaces such as floors present special challenges for paints, due to such things as wear and tear, or surface abrasion from walking or moving or bearing the weight of heavy furniture. Conventional oil and latex paints specifically formulated for floors are your best bet for durability.


What should be considered when buying a roller cover for a paint project?

First of all, always use a top-quality roller cover because it will carry more paint to the surface-reducing project time and labor expenditure. In addition, quality roller covers play a critical role in terms of paint hiding capability and the finished appearance.

Once you have chosen a quality roller cover, you'll want to match the nap or pile length to the type of surface being painted. The general rule of thumb is:

  • 4 mm to 6 mm - use on smooth surfaces, like untextured plaster, smooth wood, wallboard, drywall and metal.
  • 10 mm to 18 mm - use on medium surfaces, such as lightly textured plaster or wood, paneling or acoustical tile.
  • 20 mm - use on rough surfaces such as brick, concrete block, concrete, stucco, textured ceilings and wall and rough wood.

See application instructions on the back panel of Valspar paint products or check with your store associate to make sure that you choose the proper applicator.


Can you paint oil over latex? Latex over oil?

With today's advanced acrylic resin technology, the question of oil over latex or latex over oil has literally become a concern of the past.

The better quality, 100% acrylic paints that are manufactured today offer very good adhesion over most surfaces. The most important rule to follow is this: Any glossy surface, whether you're using a glossy latex or oil-based paint, must be properly prepared before applying any primer or top coat paint. In the case of glossiness, simply sand the surface to "rough it up" and wipe away the sanding dust with a damp cloth and repaint.


Why can't I paint in spring and fall with latex paints? Is there a low-temperature paint that you offer?

If you are painting interior space, control the temperature inside to reflect the recommendations listed on the paint can label. Be careful not to add too much humidity, or over dry the air, as these conditions could affect dry times.

Exterior paints take time to fully reach their performance peak. In periods of low temperatures, such as in springtime or fall, necessary chemical reactions could be delayed, or the opposite could occur with reactions in the film. This could cause unwanted problems, like surfactant leaching (that produces an oily surface), sacrifice of adhesion or an unattractive, uneven finish. The surface temperature does matter. A day's high temperature peak or low temperature drop is not always the same as the surface temperature.

Valspar's top-of-the-line exterior paint, Duramax® (which is available in flat and satin finishes), can be applied in temperatures as low as 35 degrees Fahrenheit (1.7 °C). This fact effectively extends the painting day to earlier in the morning and later in the evening, as well as extends the painting season to earlier in the spring and later in the fall. Please keep in mind that you should never paint when there is dew or moisture on the surface or in the air.