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A House Painters Guide to Amazing Paint Finishes

Updated on May 7, 2012

Appealing Paint Finishes

This article goes beyond the typical explanation of the types of paints. What a house painter wants to know is what finishes are the best for which surface, and how to achieve them. There are a wide variety of products on the market that do amazing things, and the key to a great look is using the best paint for the job. Painters know that you need to use high-end paints to get high-end results, and we will discover some of these products now.

A color is a color is a color?

Lets start with the important topic of paint colour. The fact is that when you pick a colour and have it mixed in a standard paint, there are limits to how well-defined this colour appears on your walls. Quality certainly comes into play, in the form of what pigments are used, and how many. Some higher end paints actually use finer pigments, or even have more to choose from when mixing a custom color. The result of this is an ability to achieve more vibrant and appealing color. The difference is subtle, but when you see an entire room painted as such, it adds that extra impact discerning homeowners desire. C2 paints is a manufacturer that uses 16 tints instead of the standard 12, and the difference is bolder and richer colors. Using such paints can be compared to jumping from standard to high-definition video.

The Finish

Just as color is important, the sheen, or the amount of gloss, is a central characteristic of a paint finish. Sometimes you want a zero-reflection flat finish, and other times you might seek a highly reflective gloss finish. There is a paint for both. A fine paint will be able to produce these sheens beautifully because they use better ingredients. The flat paint will be richer and have better depth of color while achieving very low reflection. The high gloss will similarly be deep and vibrant, and have in some cases almost mirror-like gloss. The secret to a great gloss finish is an even application of the coating. This might bring to mind the self-leveling characteristics of old-style alkyd paints, which will allow for a very even finish when applied properly. Paint manufacturers have created products with similar self-leveling properties in water-based formulas. One example is the Benjamin Moore Advance line of paints. Fine Paints of Europe similarly manufactures a very fine high-gloss enamel that is marine quality and with excellent coverage, as well as a nearly flat wall paint what is quoted to be "as washable as the fender of a Mercedes." The difference in quality can be striking, and this allows for some impressive finishes with performance levels far above that of generic paints.

More Finishing Details

Stains and Fine-Finishing

For bare woodwork, fine-finishing using clear coats becomes an art form. There are many types of varnishes, and just as with paint, you want to pick a quality product, as well as know how to apply it well. Sometimes a fine wood door demands a hand-rubbed oil finish, applied in many thin coats. Such work is best left to a professional painter or finisher, but if you are daring and want to do it yourself, you will get the best results by starting with a great varnish or laquer.


Applicators: Maximizing the Beauty of Paint

To really get the best out of your fine paint products, you need to apply them properly. This means both the right tools, and the right application method. Some essential tips:

  • Read the label for specific manufacturer recommendations. They may suggest a particular type of brush or roller sleeve. They have tested several to determine those that offer the best results, so listen to them!
  • Applying a gloss finish is the most difficult, and it is important to get an even coat without texture from a rough roller. Microfiber or foam rollers can be effective here, or a fine brush used skillfully. If you have access to a sprayer, this is an excellent option for an even finish.
  • if you are going over previously painted surfaces, the old paint may not have been applied well, possibly with a texture known as "orange peel" which results from hasty rolling. The old texture can telegraph through the new coats of paint, so its recommended to sand it down first, and possibly between coats as well.
  • Always clean dust and dirt thoroughly before and between coats of paint for the best finish.
  • when working with an oil-based varnish, never shake the can, or you can cause air bubbles to show up in the finish. Stir the varnish often to mix in the resins that settle at the bottom.

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