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Paints: brush up the basics

Paints: brush up the basics
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First Published: Thu, May 15 2008. 12 27 AM IST

Updated: Thu, May 15 2008. 12 27 AM IST
Paint is one of the most versatile media to work with. But, before you use them in your home, it is essential to get the basics right.
What is paint?
It is a mixture of solid pigments (finely-ground particles) suspended in a liquid medium (water or mineral spirits) that dries to form a protective or decorative coating. Pigments are encapsulated by resins or binders which help attach them to the surface being painted and create the paint film.
All paints fall under two categories: water-based, commonly known as latex paint, and oil-based. The former includes all water-borne paints such as vinyl-acrylic, 100% acrylic and alkyd-modified latex. You can use latex paints both indoors or outdoors. Latex provides an excellent finish and is an easier paint to use. It can be cleaned with soap or water, dries quickly, has milder odours, is non-flammable, and easy to touch up. These environment-friendly paints allow moisture to evaporate through the film thus reducing blistering. Inexpensive latex paints use softer vinyl-resins (binders) and more water in the formulation. More durable latex paints use 100% acrylic-resins and less water. The term enamel is normally associated with paints that have a glossy finish. These are formulated with higher concentrations of resin as they are used in areas subject to heavy wear and tear. Alkyd paints are more commonly used for areas prone to impact and high wear and tear such as floors or cabinets. These paints take a long time to dry, so they do not show brush strokes as much. But they are more expensive and odour-intensive when drying.
Interior paints can be grouped into two categories:
Distempers: These are traditional economy paints which produce a perfectly satisfactory finish with good workmanship. However, their life cycle is shorter. Dry distempers (which are available in powder form) and oil-bound/synthetic distempers are not washable. Acrylic distempers, being partly based on acrylic resins, give greater smoothness and are washable.
Emulsions: Also known as plastic paints, these are based on a fine dispersion of resin in a solvent, which on drying, creates a remarkably tough, adherent and durable coating. Special additives in emulsions give them an incomparably smooth finish in various shades that last for years. These are resistant to water, chemical, fungus and algae. They come in three categories: silk—premium acrylic emulsions, with silky smoothness and a luxurious silk-like finish; regular—they produce a smooth eggshell finish; and economy—a generation ahead of distempers, they are more durable, washable, fade-resistant and smooth.
Exterior paints
Emulsions are good to be used on the exterior as they contain high acrylic content which gives them a long lifespan. Special additives also make them exceptionally resistant to algae, fungus and atmospheric erosion. Other popular choices are cement paints and textured plasters. Cement paints come with a weather-resistant coating that is considerably effective. The coating contains special additives that are equipped to deal with the rigours of the external environment. Textured plasters are emulsion-based and provide even stronger protection than silk emulsions, besides unique visual appeal. Their thick surface can be designer-patterned by sponging, stippling or with the help of patterned rollers. They are also washable.
Levels of gloss
The sheen, or gloss, of paint refers to the amount of light reflected by its surface. There are four basic sheens:
Flat paints exhibit non-reflective properties, providing a matte finish that helps hide surface imperfections. It is normally used for ceilings and walls in areas less prone to wear and tear, such as dining and living rooms.
Satin finish paints are used to create soft lustre. A satin finish provides a harder surface finish, which is more durable and more stain-resistant than a flat finish.
Semi-gloss paints are more durable, easier to clean and more stain-resistant than satin-finish paints.
Gloss paint has a harder, more durable and more stain-resistant finish. It is easier to clean than all other paint finishes.
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First Published: Thu, May 15 2008. 12 27 AM IST