Expert painters offer tips on selecting paint

Expert painters offer tips on selecting paint

We spoke with three highly rated companies on Angie’s List to find out what homeowners should do to select the best paint for their interior project.

Joshua Devries, owner, Devries Painting, Fishers, Ind.

Guy Miller, president and owner, Stellar Painting & Remodeling, Littleton, Colo.,

Rick Carter, owner, Accents Professional Painting & Wallpapering Co., Matthews, N.C.,

Devries: I ask clients what their long-term goals are. Do you have kids and need more durability for the walls? Do you want to focus on washability, or do you want something that can just be touched up?

Miller: There’s flat finish paint; soft eggshell paint in a low sheen or a standard, softer finish, which I prefer, used in bathrooms and kitchens; semi-gloss paint, used on trim, doors, bathrooms, kitchen and laundry rooms; and a gloss paint I don’t recommend, because it shows every imperfection, especially dimples in doors.

Carter: The best choice for any house is an eggshell or satin finish for the walls. These paints contain more acrylic, which gives paint durability and allows it to be washable and is especially useful in the kitchen and bathroom. If you have an older home and there are a lot of imperfections or plaster walls, you’re better off going with a flat finish because it hides the imperfections.

What’s the best way to choose colors?

Devries: I tell people to follow their instincts. I offer to put color samples on the walls. Paint colors will look different on the wall than the color chart due to the surroundings.

What kinds of paints are available?

Devries: Almost all painters today use water-based latex paints. Oil-based paints are rarely used because they eventually crack, especially near windowsills where moisture contacts it, and maintaining oil-based paint is very difficult. It has a tendency to discolor over time, and you have to use chemicals like thinner to remove it.

Carter: There’s more acrylic in the latex paints. Acrylic is what gives the paint durability and allows it to be washable. If you want a specific decorating look, oil-based paints are very shiny.

What kind of preparation should be done before my home’s interior is painted?

Miller: Remove items off your walls and knickknacks off furniture. Move large furniture out of the way, unless you hired the contractor to move it for you.

Carter: I always recommend completely sanding the walls before applying your first coat of finish. It roughs up the walls to help the paint adhere.

If I live in an older home, how can I or my contractor protect my family from the harmful effects of lead paint?

Miller: If you’re in a historic environment or in an older neighborhood, you’ll want to hire a professional to test your home for lead-based paint. However, in any homes from 1980 or prior, you’ll want to test any kind of popcorn ceiling for asbestos, which is more prevalent than lead these days.

What measures do you take to protect flooring, baseboards, trim, furniture and so forth?

Miller: The contractor will cover tiles and hardwood floors with builder or rosin paper, seal and tape kitchen cabinets and cover ceiling fans, countertops, vanities, toilets and shower areas with plastic. They should cover furniture with plastic too, as tarps have a tendency to move.

Devries: An estimate should list out all the things the painter is going to do and everything should be explained to the customer.

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Indianapolis painter offers tips for picking the right paint


Who we talked to
Joshua Devries, owner
Devries Painting
13265 Allisonville Road
Who we talked to Joshua Devries, owner Devries Painting 13265 Allisonville Road Fishers 332-8394

Joshua Devries says long-term goals can help assess the type of paint you choose.

Leave a Comment - 10




Some good comments by these contractors but I have to say that I'm very disappointed at some of the bad information in their comments. I'm a paint chemist, so I find some of their comments completely off base. For example, latex paint isn't latex anymore, perhaps not since WWII. Water based paints are emulsions. Further, they DO NOT necessarily contain more acrylic than so-called oil based paints. It just depends on the type and the quality of paint that you use. Furthermore oil based paints DO NOT crack more than water based paints - that's an old wives tale that is not true. Perhaps the contractor used inferior oil based paints for him to draw that conclusion. Note well that "oil" (actually organic solvents) as well as water are both nothing more than a vehicle to deliver the paint polymers and pigment to your walls, etc. The paint formula is completely independent of these "carriers".

In addition, what was also disappointing is the failure to note that painting is 80 to 90% labor. The paint itself is a very small percentage of the total cost, THEREFORE you always buy the best paint that money can buy.

Now, as for sanding walls, and lead paint as well. Walls do not need to be sanded unless they are covered with a layer of oil or dirt or both. If adhesion is in question, use a good sealer with adhesion enhancement built into the formula such as [Zinser's 1,2,3 +]. The '+' indicates enhanced adhesion built into the formula. It is an excellent sealer and I recommend it for anyone who smokes - which leaves a brown dingy smoke film on all surfaces. Furthermore, lead is a very serious health hazard especially for small children who might eat the chips or 'lick the walls' so to speak. Zinser or any good sealer will cover over the lead paint and seal it into the wall. And, it certainly beats spending thousands of dollars removing lead paint - unless the lead paint is peeling, then you have no choice but to remove it. Safety First.

Another tip for those talking about refinishing wood cabinets: Go to the MinWax web site[]...there is a world of information and it's all good. Incidentally, independent evaluations have been done by a number of consumer groups and they all found that MinWax makes the very best.



My son in law had the same issue with a fountain. He tried several different things and then called me for a solution since none of his worked. I suggested the Rustoleum Universal spray paint found at most all is awesome and works wonderful on most any surface. He did his prep work on the fountain and sprayed it with the Universal Spray paint and has had no issues at all with it not being durable. It is very cost effective at about $6.00 a can.

Angie's List Staff


Thank you for your comment about lead paint, Janet.

Angie's List agrees that the issue of lead paint is serious and is committed to getting the word out about the dangers of lead paint.

For more on lead paint safety, please visit the following link:

Angie's List Staff


Hello, Nina, Joanne and Loren!
Thank you for your comments.
A professional painter would be the best person to answer your questions regarding type of paint to use and cost of a project.
Visit You'll get access to other homeowners' reviews on painting companies, which can help you make your hiring decision.

Juli Roland


The best way to choose colors is to draw them from an object in the room you already love: an area rug, a piece of art, a fabric, a granite countertop.

If you don't have any inspiration items, it'll be much harder to zero in on a color, because you've got literally the whole fan deck to consider.

If you just don't know where to start, I'd recommend hiring a color consultant. That's what I do in the Dallas area.

Loren Brooker


I have about a 900 square foot 2 bedroom condo with popcorn on the indoor ceilings. The living room ceiling is a high ceiling type. The building was built in 1984. (a slim margin between the asbestos era, I feel) I'm planning to paint the whole apt with Milkpaint - an old fashioned, non toxic, non VOC pain. What's a ballpark figure I might expect to pay to remove the popcorn ceiling and replace with regular (plaster?).



Can cherry shiny finish kitchen cabinets (re 1991)
be refinished and/or painted? Will the finished product look "almost new"?
How do I find a painter who can work with me on such a project?

Janet Loudermilk


I think the information above about lead paint is very careless and dangerous. Lead paint is present in nearly every home built before 1978. It lies under the top coats, and when every time a door or window opens, microscopic dust is released which can seriously affect young children. Think of all the times their fingers and toys go in their mouth. No one in an old home should feel cavalier about lead paint.

AG Nunn


An expert who answers with a question is not helpful. I expected much more form experts. This is relatively worthless.



I have a greek statue in our backyard. the water from the statue empties into a fiberglass bowl. What kind of paint do I use on this bowl?

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