Interior Paint Guide: Which Paints to Use in Specific Rooms

If only conditions in the basement were the same as the bedroom, the kitchen the same as the bathroom, then we'd have one universal paint for everywhere.  Besides the fact that paint companies would go broke this way, it remains that areas of the house have different micro-climates, and thus need different types of paint.

Paint companies have responded by creating niche paints for several rooms and surfaces of the house:  basement, ceiling, bathroom, trim/cabinets. 

  • 01 of 08
    Big Kitchen
    Big Kitchen. Ivan Hunter/Getty

    In kitchens, you're looking in the general category of interior wall paints, but avoiding flat or other types of matte paints, as they can be difficult to wipe down.

    • Type:  Interior wall paint.
    • Composition: Latex enamel.
    • Sheen: Satin or greater.
    • Try This Brand: Behr Premium Plus Interior Satin Enamel.
  • 02 of 08
    Bathroom Remodeling Ideas - Bathroom Remodeling Pictures
    Jake Fitzjones / Getty

    Because of bathrooms' moisture, the need for wipe ability is even greater than in the kitchen.

    • Type: Interior wall paint.  Usually, premium paints or those labeled as "bathroom paint" are appropriate.
    • Composition: Latex enamel.
    • Sheen: Satin or greater.  If you don't mind paints with higher gloss, these will perform better over the long run.
    • Try This Brand:  Behr Premium Plus Interior Satin Enamel.
  • 03 of 08
    Cottage Cheese Ceiling
    Cottage Cheese Ceiling. © Best Home Improvements
    • Type:  Anything labeled Paint" or any flat white interior latex paint.
    • Composition:  Latex.
    • Sheen:  Flat.
    • Try This Brand: Glidden EZ Track Ceiling Paint.
  • 04 of 08
    Paint Outside Trim
    © Lee Wallender; licensed to

    While you can use water-soluble latex enamel, oil-based paints--only available in quart sizes--provide smoother surfaces.  Two downsides:  strong fumes and long drying times.

    • Type: Paint labeled Cabinet & Trim Paint.  Or any oil-based paint or acrylic latex paint.
    • Composition: Alkyd (oil) or acrylic latex (the acrylic additive prevents white-tinted trim paints from yellowing).
    • Sheen: Semi-Gloss or greater
    • Try This BrandSherwin-Williams ProClassic Interior Acrylic Latex Enamel
    Continue to 5 of 8 below.
  • 05 of 08
    BathWorks DIY Refinishing Kit
    BathWorks DIY Refinishing Kit. © Munro Products

    Not a true "paint" of the type that you find in the paint aisle of your home improvement store, this is a coating usually found as part of a DIY refinishing kit.

    • Type: Coating specially designed for bathtubs, sinks, tile, surrounds.
    • Composition: Acrylic resin consisting of two parts, base color, and base hardener.
    • Sheen:  Gloss
    • Try This Brand:  Munro Products' Bathworks
  • 06 of 08
    Newly Installed Drywall
    Newly Installed Drywall. CC-Licensed; Flickr User: Evan Courtney

    Drywall's porous outer paper covering soaks up liquids like crazy.  Primer helps you lay down a more even color coat.

    • Type:  Primer specially labeled as appropriate for drywall.  Usually, will incorporate the word "drywall" or "wallboard" within the name.
    • Composition:  100% acrylic latex.
    • Sheen:  N/A.  You have no finish choice with drywall primer; only one finish--flat--is available.
    • Try This Brand:  Behr Premium Plus Drywall Primer & Sealer
  • 07 of 08

    Living Room and Bedroom Walls

    Yellow Living Room
    Yellow Living Room. CC-Licensed; Flickr user: Rowdyman

    These low-impact areas can use any kind of paint you wish.  Most homeowners, though, go for flat latex paints.

    • Type:  Interior wall paint.
    • Composition:  100% acrylic.
    • Sheen:  Flat or greater, though most homeowners stop at eggshell.
    • Try This Brand:  All paint manufacturers offer this type of paint.  Try Ralph Lauren 100% Acrylic Latex.
  • 08 of 08

    Basement Masonry Walls

    Basement masonry walls famously weep water.  If yours doesn't, consider yourself lucky.  If yours does, consider yourself part of the crowd.  Basement masonry paint seals crack up to 1/16" wide with elastomeric action (elastomeric means that it expands, and then resumes its previous shape when the pressure is gone). 

    • Type:  Basement flexible primer and finish.
    • Composition:  Latex acrylic.
    • Sheen:  Glossy.
    • Try This Brand:  Zinsser's Watertite Flexible Primer and Finish.

This guide provides some of the best suggestions for paint to use in various parts of your house, but it's not an exhaustive guide--not every single type of option is listed.