Types of paint
Paints come in different levels of sheen. The different sheens affect the amount of light reflected, so the "same" color in a different sheen may appear to be a different shade. The different sheen also affect the ease of cleaning.
In general, the paints at the higher sheen (like high gloss) have a tougher, more waterproof surface. So, they are easier to clean. Dirt is less likely to sink into the surface; the paint is less likely to dissolve or come off during cleaning. Higher gloss paints tend to be more expensive. And some people feel that their "brightness" or reflected light levels make a room feel sterile and less cosy. The same "color" on the wall is likely to look lighter when it's in a higher gloss.
A combination of different levels of gloss can also be used to produce certain effects. For instance, if you want to make the trim stand out paint it in a high gloss, and paint the rest of the walls in a low gloss. Or use the same color throughout an area, but different levels of gloss. You could use a high gloss on the wall opposite the windows to reflect back the light and make the room seem lighter. Because a high gloss paint is usually also more water resistant, they can be useful in laundry and bathing areas -- where you may also want any dirt to stand out more and to have the paint be easier to wash.
Standard levels of gloss from highest to lowest:
- high gloss
- semi gloss
Paint can be mixed to be in a wide variety of colors, shades and tints. Some paint stores now have "color matching" where you can bring in an object of the color you want, and they can mix up a paint to match that color.
Even "white" usually comes in a variety of tints -- some warmer (redder tones), some brighter ("purer" white), some cooler (blue-er tones).
Virtual paint trials
A couple of commercial paint companies now have Web sites where you can try out different colors of their paint on images of different rooms. Here are some of them (you may add others):
Tips and hints
- You will need additional primer, special treatment or extra coats of paint, if you are trying to cover a much darker color or if the wall is very textured.