Interior Paint Guidelines

Interior Paint Guide: Which Paints to Utilize in Specific Spaces

If only conditions in the basement were identical to the bedroom, the kitchen the same as the bathroom, then we 'd have one universal paint for all spaces. Besides the simple fact that paint companies would go broke this way, it stands that areas of the home have different micro-climates, and thus require different types of paint.

Paint companies have reacted by creating niche paints for specific rooms and surfaces of the home: basement, ceiling, bathroom, trim/cabinets.  Your professional contractor will probably recommend using the following suggestions when planning and discussing your project.

If you're wrapped up in a DIY project, your local home improvement store will have ample suggestions and know the latest products on the market for your particular project.  Be sure you understand what you're signing up for though; a professional is the best option.

Kitchen Walls

In kitchens, you'll find your best options in the general category of interior wall paints, but steer clear of flat or other forms of matte paints, as they are difficult to wipe down.

  • Interior latex enamel wall paint with a Satin sheen.

Bathroom Walls

As a result of bathrooms' moisture, the requirement for wipe-ability is even more than in the kitchen.  Paints with a higher gloss will work best.

  • Interior latex enamel wall paint with a satin sheen. A higher gloss is acceptable however there is usually a premium paint labeled "bathroom paint" you'll find suitable.


Just about any latex paint product will work for your ceiling. It will get virtually no wear so you don't need to worry about the ability to clean it.

  • Any paint, or any flat white interior latex paint.

Trim, Cabinets, Windows, Doors

While you may use water-soluble latex enamel, oil-based paints-- only available in quart sizes-- provide smoother surfaces. Two downsides: strong fumes and long drying periods.  It's important that you're able to wipe down your trim and door frames so it may be worth the wait.

  • You'll find 'Cabinet & Trim Paint', or any oil-based paint or acrylic latex semi-gloss paint to be suitable.

Bathtub or Shower

Not actually a "paint" of the type that you discover in your home improvement store, this is a coating usually found as a component of a DIY refinishing kit.  It's a specially designed acrylic with provision to withstand moisture.

  • Acrylic resin gloss-sheen coating specially developed for bathtubs, sinks, tile, surrounds consisting of two parts, base color, and base hardener.

Drywall (Unpainted)

Drywall has a porous outer paper covering which soaks up liquids and requires a primer to seal it before applying any color.. Primer helps you put down a more even color coat.  One-coat paints aren't recommended because of the porous nature of the drywall.

  • Primer specially labeled as suitable for drywall. 100% acrylic latex flat paint that usually will include the word "drywall" or "wallboard" within the name.

Living Room and Bedroom Walls

These low-impact areas can use any sort of paint you wish. Most homeowners, though, opt for flat latex paints.  Just about any color imaginable should be available to choose from in this category.

  •  100% acrylic flat interior wall paint.

Basement Masonry Walls

Basement masonry walls notoriously seep water. Basement masonry paint seals cracks up to 1/16" wide with elastomeric action (elastomeric means that it expands, and then returns to its former shape when the pressure is gone).  Its glossy sheen will make it easy to keep clean.

  • Basement flexible latex acrylic primer with a glossy sheen.

Using these suggestions will help you tremendously in selecting the correct paint for whatever area you're improving in your home.  You can also consult with your local home improvement store's paint department.  They are knowledgeable and will be able to consult with you to provide further recommendations while keeping you up to date on the latest developments in available products for painting various areas in your home.


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