Children's bedrooms need a type of paint that's different from other rooms of the house. That's because children's rooms get significantly more damage. The walls get drawn on with Crayon, ink, and pencil. They get kicked and splattered with food and subjected to more impact than one can ever imagine. Unless you want to re-paint your child's room several times a year, you'll want to pick a paint that's durable, easy to apply, washable, and of course, one that has lots of great color choices.
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Use Higher Gloss Paint
Using a higher gloss or sheen of paint guarantees that you'll have a durable surface for kids' rooms. Also, the paint will be easier to wash down in the event of shoe scuffs or Crayon marks.
Choosing this type of paint is easy, too. The paint does not have to be marketed as kids' room paint or anything special. Simply put, any interior paint of a glossier finish will repel scuffs and stains well. Thus, eggshell will be better than matte paint, since it's slightly glossier.
For more protection, satin gloss paint will be better than eggshell. Need even more protection? Then step from satin gloss to semi-gloss paint. While there is one more level of gloss to choose from (high gloss), it's usually best used on trim work rather than on walls.
The glossier the paint, the more solids it contains. Gloss adds body and bulk to paint, both of which are desirable attributes for durable paint.
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Use Paint With a Surface Protector
Good news: a few paint manufacturers license DuPont's familiar Teflon technology as a liquid additive to their paints. Can the same coating that prevents omelets from sticking to pans prevent sneaker scuffs from becoming a permanent part of your child's bedroom walls? The fluorosurfactants used in the paint came about in 1994 and are distantly related to that familiar egg-repelling technology.
While Teflon-infused interior paint is no less scratch-resistant than regular paint, it does a good job of shedding dirt, scuffs, and deep stains by light rubbing with a wet soapy cloth. Teflon lowers the surface tension between the paint and the contaminating agent, preventing the contaminant from spreading out and penetrating the substrate as much.
This type of paint is still difficult to find in the U.S. Japan-based Nippon Paint sells interior paint with Teflon throughout Asia, but its U.S. subsidiary does not. Asian Paints is another company that uses Teflon in its Royale Shyne Luxury Emulsion, but as the name suggests, it is a high-sheen finish.
In the U.S., Interlux Brightside is a two-part polyurethane paint designed for marine applications and it is fairly expensive. But since it's designed for boat exteriors (imagine how much wear and tear boat shells get), it can easily protect the walls of your children's bedroom.
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Use Washable Flat and Matte Paints
Once you get into the flatter glosses and sheens, it's harder to find one that is truly washable. Professional painters say that higher-quality paints are much more cleanable in flatter sheens and glosses than lower-quality paints.
- PPG (Pittsburgh Paints): PPG's Manor Hall Interior Latex Paint is fairly washable even in Flat/Matte and Ceramic Matte sheens. WallHide's Matte/Ceramic also works well for rooms that need frequent wall cleaning.
- Kelly Moore: More available than PPG are Kelly-Moore Paints, though you may find both at the same stand-alone paint store. K-M's Acry-Plex Interior Latex Flat Enamel, more often called "655," is known for being one type of flat that stands up to repeated scrubbings.
- Benjamin Moore: The best-selling Aura line of interior latex paints is known for being washable even in flats, mattes, and eggshells.
- Sherwin-Williams: Sherwin Williams Emerald or Duration. Promar 200, and SuperPaint are paint lines that offer superb durability and washability.
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Install Protective Coverings
One reason why painted walls in children's bedrooms are so prone to damage has less to do with the paint than with the base: drywall. Fragile, crumbly, easily dented or scratched, drywall does work well in many other parts of the home, but less so in kids' bedrooms. So consider a different base.
Wainscot is a hardboard that covers the lower half of the walls. It can be purchased as ready-to-install kits or as 4-foot by 8-foot beadboard sheets cut to size. A piece of trim called a chair rail tops the beadboard to cover up the cut and at the bottom is a sturdy baseboard.
Some types of wainscot boards even come pre-primed and ready for painting.
While wainscot can be damaged with enough force, it's stronger than drywall and a good way to cover up the lower section of walls in children's rooms. If you think you want the wainscot to be temporary, avoid using construction glue to stick the wainscot to the walls. While glue is helpful, it's not necessary. Instead, nail the wainscot to the studs every 16 inches.