How to choose the right paint and finish

This paint-buying guide is your perfect ally whether you want to paint one room or your entire home. If you need guidance to prepare your space, find the right tools and materials, understand different finishes, or make the right colour choices, the 8 points below will ensure a successful outcome for your project.

  1. Decide on the rooms you want to paint
    Start by making a list of the rooms you plan on painting. How often are they used? Are they large, small, bright, or dark? Are the ceilings flat or sloping? All of these details must be considered when choosing your paint.
  2. Choose the paint finish
    There are many different types of paint finishes. If you want walls that are easy to clean and reflect the light, opt for an eggshell with a touch of gloss. For your ceilings, we recommend a flat finish that cleans well and masks imperfections. There is also a finish for baseboards and mouldings, as well as one for kitchens and bathrooms that tolerates heat and humidity well.
  3. Distinguish oil-based (alkyd) paint from water-based paint (acrylic or latex)
    Another factor to keep in mind: the composition of the paint. Although they provide excellent coverage, oil-based paints smell strong and are difficult to clean. We therefore recommend water-based paints (acrylic or latex) that are lighter and more ecologically friendly.
  4. Gather the best painting tools and materials
    Choosing the best quality tools (almost) always guarantees a successful outcome. If you have several walls to paint, use rollers. We suggest shorter nap lengths of 5 to 10 mm. If you want to invest in a good paintbrush, forget cheaper models and opt for a quality sash brush designed to twirl in your hand as you paint.
  5. Prepare your walls well
    Dust and wash walls, remove wall plates and shelving, and let walls dry before painting. Even them out and fill holes with a bit of plaster followed by a light sanding for a nice smooth finish.
  6. Quantity of paint
    How many coats are needed to cover one wall? Ask a paint specialist when buying your paint to prevent any unwanted surprises. Some paints offer better coverage than others. On average, after 1 coat of primer, a wall is uniformly covered after 2 or 3 coats of paint. And be sure to let your paint dry between coats to prevent drips.
  7. Ceilings
    A little trick for a smooth, uniform ceiling: always paint in both directions. The first coat should be applied horizontally and the second coat vertically. This way, the coats of paint overlap for a more uniform finish.
  8. Exterior paint
    Interior paint is very different from exterior paint. The former highlights finishes, colours and textures, whereas the latter offers better coverage and resists bad weather. If you anticipate painting outdoors, don’t forget to clean surfaces before painting to prevent trapping dirt under your paint indefinitely!

Sheen and gloss levels

Sheen and gloss levels are important from performance and appearance aspects. New standards have been established to realign gloss levels in latexes to those in alkyds. The Master Painters Institute (MPI) has moved away from traditional names for gloss levels as they differ from manufacturer to manufacturer.

Finishes range from flat to high gloss. The gloss of a surface is defined as the reflection of light from the surface. To measure gloss reflectance, a single beam of light is deflected off the surface at a prescribed angle into a receptor. The receptor gauges the intensity of the light in gloss units. The higher the number of units, the shinier or “glossier” the surface.

Sheen is used to describe the low angle gloss of a surface. Variances in sheen are more noticeable in low gloss coatings.

MPI Gloss and Sheen Standards are now as follows:

Gloss Level Finish Gloss at 60 degrees Sheen at 85 degrees Light Reflectance
1 Matte or flat maximum 5 units maximum 10 units < 10%
2 High sheen or velvet maximum 10 units 10-35 units 15% -25%
3 Eggshell 10-25 units 10-35 units 10% – 15%
4 Satin or Pearl 20-35 units minimum 35 units 26% – 40%
5 Semi-gloss 35-70 units   41% – 69%
6 Gloss 70-85 units   70% – 90%
7 High gloss more than 85 units   90% – 100%