Interior Paints to Use in Specific Rooms

Young couple viewing paint swatches, painting living room

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Can you use one type of interior paint for every room of the house? If only conditions in the basement were the same as the bedroom, the kitchen the same as the bathroom, then we would have one universal paint for everywhere. Different areas of the house have different micro-climates, and thus need different types of paint. This is not just a fantasy created by paint companies to sell more paint. When you consider how wildly different rooms can be ​regarding just humidity, you begin to see that different paints are needed.

Paint companies have responded by creating niche paints for several rooms and surfaces of the house: basement, kitchen, ceiling, bathroom, trim, and cabinets. Most paints have cross-over abilities; few recommendations are absolutes. 

  • 01 of 08

    Kitchen Walls

    In kitchens, look into the general category of interior wall paints, but avoid flat or other types of matte paints, as they can be difficult to wipe down. While satin or eggshell sheens are popular, some homeowners concerned about maintenance even opt for semi-gloss sheen in their kitchen.

    • Type: Interior wall paint
    • Composition: Latex enamel
    • Sheen: Satin or greater
    • Try This Brand: Behr Premium Plus Interior Satin Enamel
  • 02 of 08

    Bathroom Walls

    Because of bathrooms' moisture, the need for wipe-ability is even greater than in the kitchen. Paints with glossier sheens have a tighter molecular structure than flat paints, making it more difficult for moisture to penetrate.

    • Type: Interior wall paint. Usually, premium paints or those labeled as "bathroom paint" are appropriate.
    • Composition: Latex enamel
    • Sheen: Satin or justified (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

    Ceiling

    ​A vast majority of ceilings are painted flat white, but for a good reason. White reflects a majority of ambient light back into the room and helps rooms feel larger. Flat avoids the space-limiting illusion that glossy paints create.

    • Type: Anything labeled "Ceiling Paint" or any flat white interior latex paint
    • Composition: Latex
    • Sheen: Flat
    • Try This Brand: Glidden EZ Track Ceiling Paint
  • 04 of 08

    Trim, Cabinets, Windows, Doors

    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 and 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 a glossier sheen
    • Try This Brand: Sherwin-Williams ProClassic Interior Acrylic Latex Enamel
    Continue to 5 of 8 below.
  • 05 of 08

    Bathtub or Shower

    Paint for the bathtub or shower walls, and bathing surfaces is not a true paint of the type that you find in the paint aisle of your home improvement store. Instead, 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

    Drywall (Unpainted)

    Drywall's porous outer paper covering soaks up liquids at an uneven and often alarming rate. Primer helps you lay down a more balanced color coat.

    • Type: Primer specially labeled as appropriate for ​drywall (usually the product literature will incorporate the word "drywall" or "wallboard" within the name)
    • Composition: 100 percent acrylic latex
    • Sheen: You have no finish choice with drywall primer. All primer comes in flat, or matte, sheens.
    • Try This Brand:  Behr Premium Plus Drywall Primer and Sealer
  • 07 of 08

    Living Room and Bedroom Walls

    Living rooms and bedrooms are low-impact areas and can use any kind of paint you wish. Most homeowners, though, go for flat, satin, or eggshell sheen latex paints.

    • Type: Interior wall paint
    • Composition: 100 percent acrylic
    • Sheen: Flat or greater, though most homeowners choose eggshell or satin
    • Try This Brand: All paint manufacturers offer this type of paint
  • 08 of 08

    Basement Masonry Walls

    Basement masonry walls can often weep water. If yours doesn't, consider yourself lucky. If yours does give off water vapor, consider yourself part of the crowd. Basement masonry paint seals cracks up to 1/16-inch 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