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Paint Coverage and Finishes

How much area will one gallon of paint cover?

For many paints, one gallon will cover 400 square feet. However, the quality of the paint can affect how much it will cover. The label on the paint can usually provides some guidance. In addition, there are a number of factors that affect how much paint you will need. These include the type of surface being covered, the color currently on the surface and the color being applied.

For help in estimating how much paint you will need for your project 
Click here to go to Ace's paint estimator page.

How do I recognize a good paint?

Paint has three components: the binder, the pigment and the liquid. The best paints contain a higher volume of solid materials. Pay close attention to the solid content. For example, a $13 gallon of paint with a solid content of 19 percent might cover about 200 square feet, while a $20 gallon of paint with 41 percent solid content will cover about twice that amount. The binder is the most important factor in the durability. Some paints also have additives to enhance their performance, such as mildewcide.

Painting Tips

The most important information regarding a successful paint job can be found on the paint can label. Really, this is good stuff and paint companies pay a lot to get it right.
Interior painting almost always requires a paint roller, a touch-up brush and, depending on your skill, masking tape and a drop cloth. Prepare a damp rag at this time to mop up drips. I always start by taking off all of the switch plate covers and the glass portion of light fixtures.
After masking where necessary (ie. windows) I start by spreading the paint out on the wall with a new roller. The roller should be used in a random pattern rather than in geometric patterns. Use your brush to fill in the edges that the roller couldn't get to. Remove the masking tape and clean up any drips with the damp rag. Wash and dry the plate covers and other fixtures before replacing them after the wall is dry.


What are the advantages of latex paint?

In addition to being thinnable with water, latex paints feature:

-Less odor
-Water cleanup
-Faster drying
-Easy to touch up
-Easy to apply
-Better Gloss
-Less fading on exteriors
-No yellowing on interior
-Less likely to crack or peel

What is an oil-based paint?

These paints have resins and thinners in them that evaporate when the paint dries. This process forms a hard coating and provides heavier coverage on the first coat, effective penetration and excellent adhesion. They are particularly good for chalky surfaces and those that already have several layers of oil-based paint.

What does the term gloss mean?

It refers to how shiny the paint is. Manufacturers use terms such as flat, satin, semi-gloss and high-gloss to describe their paints, but there are no specific industry standards.

What type of paint should I use in my kitchen?

High-gloss paints are great for high-traffic areas because they provide a tough, washable finish that also resists water and grease. Use them on kitchen and bathroom walls, kitchen cabinets, banisters and railings, trim, furniture, doorjambs and windowsills. However, the gloss will make surface imperfections more noticeable, so you will have to work a little harder to ensure a good finish. A semi-gloss provides a little less durability but is a little easier to work with.

Where should I use a flat paint?

These are also called matte finishes and they are good for walls and ceilings in lower-traffic areas.

What is an eggshell finish?

It's a paint that has a little more sheen than a flat paint, which makes it easier to clean and gives it a more lustrous appearance. It can be used in place of semi-gloss to provide a less shiny finish. Some manufacturers market a satin or silk finish, which is usually a little shinier than an eggshell but less shiny than a semi-gloss.

What's the best way to apply varnish?

The best type of room is one that is not too humid and is about 70 to 75 degrees. To protect against debris from getting onto the finished piece, the room should be free from dust. You might even consider mopping the room or covering the floor with paper. Make sure that the surface to be varnished is clean, dry and free of any finishes. Try to have the piece horizontal. In addition, to mix the varnish, stir it. Don't shake it because air bubbles can get into your finished piece.

How many coats of varnish do I need to apply?

Generally, from two to four coats, applied in thin layers.

Paint Storage

What is the best way to store paint that has been opened? That depends on whether the paint is water-based or oil-based.
For water-based latex paint, use a wet paper towel to thoroughly clean paint from the groove in the paint can, cover the container with plastic wrap, replace the lid and press it into place.
Proper storage of an alkyd or oil-based paint also begins with a thorough cleaning of the groove to ensure a good seal. Placing a piece of waxed paper directly onto the paint surface before sealing simplifies removal of the film that tends to form on these types of paints. When the can is reopened, just lift off the waxed paper, and the paint film will come off with it.