Navigating the Paint Aisle

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You're aiming for classy, sophisticated and chic, but by the end of this home improvement project, you may end up with splotchy, half-hearted and downright sad. Let's face it, with the paint aisle resembling a maze and paint color only a single piece to the puzzle, your hair could turn gray faster than your walls. What type of finish to choose, what shade and how many coats? No need to holster your creativity just yet. With the right knowledge, you'll be able to walk through the maze of paints and tools blindfolded (although that's not really recommended).

Types of Paint

Most people only consider a paint's color and forget the finish. In fact, there are several different types of paints, each giving a unique look to your wall. Find the perfect kind to match your personality and turn any room into something that resembles you.

Matte paint is the most common interior wall paint. A matte finish gives no shine or sheen when dried. However, it often requires more than one coat and shows marks or scuffs easily. This could turn into a major bummer with young kids or animals around the house.

A more hearty alternative to the regular matte paint is matte enamel, which doesn't require as many touch-ups. Thumbs up for no touch-ups!

Gloss paint is the second most common wall paint. As the name suggests, this finish provides a high shine. However, this finish shows imperfections and often needs more than a single coat.

Semi-gloss is more common on trim than walls because it offers a hard finish and is easy to clean.

Satin gives a finish in-between matte and gloss. It provides a low, soft sheen and is ideal in rooms where you'll clean the walls regularly.

An eggshell finish has a subtle shine to it without the smoothness of satin, making it more suitable for interior walls. Another advantage is that it's a "one-and-done" paint, since a single coat often covers completely.

Buy a Two-In-One

There are often multiple steps to painting a room, especially if that room is any color other than white. It can be difficult for new paint to cover old. If you don't do the job correctly, you'll end up with an uneven wall. If tie-dye is in (it's not), then go for it! Otherwise, you may need to apply a coat or two of primer before rolling on your color. Two coats of primer plus two coats of color equals a lot of time and work. In order to cut back on both, look for a paint advertised as having a built-in primer.

Determining the Paint's Undertones

It's easy to look at a color sample and immediately decide whether you like it or not. Neon green? Hate it. A pastel blue that reminds you of seaside cottages? Love!

However, take a closer look and examine the color's undertones. Undertones --not the overall color -- are what creates a harmonious color scheme. It's kind of like finding a soul mate. It's what's underneath that really connects.

Every color has a mass tone and an undertone. The mass tone is the color your eyes pick up at first glance while the undertone is the more subtle color beneath the surface. Though they seem shy, undertones will always come out when placed next to another color.

Selecting the correct undertone is even more crucial than selecting the correct color. In order to do this, grab two colors of the same color family. You'll suddenly see small, yet surprising differences. One color that looks completely blue will show a shade of purple and the other might show yellow. Obvious side note: Refrain from shopping with your color-blind friend.

Choosing a neutral paint can be more difficult, yet doable. Place your neutral swatch next to a pure color such as red, yellow, green, blue and so on. If your neutral has a specific undertone, a pure swatch of the opposite color will bring it to light.