Good preparation is important
Interior wall paint is the easiest and least expensive way of decorating your walls. But there lies the problem.
Because it's relatively inexpensive and easy to apply, it's not often used as well as it could be.
Whatever the sort of paint you decide to use, the key to getting a really good paint finish is in the preparation. Most of us will paint over an existing layer of paint or wallpaper enough times so we completely hide the old layer.
Wrong. You'll get a much better finish if you prepare the walls first. And usually (not always, but usually) that means removing the old layers and smoothing and priming the walls. Sometimes this involves applying lining paper and painting that.
So don't rush when you decide to paint your walls. Spend time getting the surfaces prepared, don't miss out stages, and if in doubt get professional advice. It can even be worth while paying for advice before you then carry out the work.
Paints for all finishes
Interior wall paint comes in many varieties. Basically, paint is made up of a pigment (which gives the color) mixed in with some sort of binding agent (to hold it all together), and a solvent. The solvent make the paint more workable and then evaporates as the paint dries.
Some paints have other ingredients added to them, such as resins or silicas. These give the paint individual characteristics such as quick drying, resistance to mildew, or textural effects.
You can also buy paints which imitate suede, fabric, verdigris and antique finishes.
Find out more about paint finishes you can use for home decorating.
Emulsion (latex) is the most common paint type used for interior wall paint. It has all the advantages of a water based paint. It is usually the least expensive, especially when purchased in bulk or during 'special offers'.
Most paints are water-based or oil-based. Oil based paints are being used less because of their white-spirit content, and also because advances in paint manufacture have resulted in the use of acrylics which give very good professional finishes.
The main advantages of water-based paints is that they don't smell as much, they dry quicker and are easy to wash off hands and clothes. Although they may not be as hard wearing as oil-based paints, you can now get varnishes and color washes which you can apply afterwards which give added protection.
When you buy paints, try to get ones with low or non-existant VOC's (Volatile Organic Compound).
Without going into any technical details, VOC's are not environmentally friendly. They are what cause unpleasant paint smells. Your paint supplier will be able to advise you.
Some colors work better than others. Experienced decorators rely on just a few.
The Shortcut to Perfect Paint Colors - Paint Color Cheat Sheets
There are now products available which are basically powder you mix with water. Their makers claim they are ecologically good because they don't include all the usual chemicals which damage the environment. These tend to be produced by small, new businesses.
One advantage of these paints is that you can prepare only as much as you need to use. Of course, you have to get the right proportion of powder to water for a correct consistency.
Special interior wall paint
You can buy paints for many different situations. For example, epoxy enamels have a hard gloss finish which resists dirt and abrasions. They can be used on metal, porcelain or ceramic tiles.
Non drip paints are available in both water and oil based forms, and don't need thinning or stirring. Trays of solid emulsion, which you use a roller to apply, are also non drip and very useful for ceilings.