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EJacobs 08-31-2008 09:24 PM

Paint recommendations and finish questions
I can tell that this comes up a lot here, and I've read many, many threads about best paints, and Behr paints and such. To be honest, I'm more confused than I was when I started.

My husband and I just bought our first home. The paint is pretty "eh". It's all off-white flat paint, and covered with scuffs and marks and spots where they spackled and painted over without leveling the spackle. They did touch-ups in a few spots, and the paint doesn't match, etc. It desperately needs a repaint and some wall repairs in places.

My interest is generally in high-durability, high cleanability. I don't anticipate wanting to paint again, because wall-color just isn't high on my list of things to care about. I can easily get Sherwin-William's paint. Benajmin Moore is a little more difficult to get around here, but if it's better for a given application, I don't mind making the effort. Valspar, etc are even more difficult, but generally obtainable. If there's a regional product that I could get in NC, I'm certainly willing to look around.

The kitchen has a painted backsplash over the stove and counters. I'm going to be washing those walls every day, sometimes more than once. I need something that won't oil-spot from splattered cooking oil and will hold up to vigorous washing. The Sherwin-William's guy wants to sell me Duration, and it seems fine for that application. Are there better choices? Do I need semi-gloss/gloss for the kitchen?

The bathroom is going to get fairly heavy use, and we have had mildew problems in other bathrooms. 4 year olds splash water on the walls sometimes, no matter how well they're observed at bath time. Sherwin-Williams claims that Duration is their best bathroom paint, but he also tells me that it's safe for my daugher's bedroom (yes, she probably would lick her walls. Especially if she knew how disgusting mom thought that was) and heavy mildewcide doesn't seem to go along with child-safe for me. If the answer is that there isn't a very good mildewcide in Duration - is there a mildewcide additive I can use? Would I be better off with Bejamin-Moore bathroom paint? Something else? Again, can I use satin, or do I need a (semi)gloss?

My daughter's bedroom is the other special-needs portion of the house. We've had marker. We've had crayon. We've had "my art project from pre-school got wet and transfers who-knows-what kind of paint onto my walls". Little purple food-dye handprints. Clay soil rubbed into the paint. Dirt and colors are her friends, she she wants to live with them. While we've never had the same thing twice - I shudder to think of what she will come up with next. I want something I can wash. I want something I can scrub. I want something I can use magic eraser on. I want something I can touch up easily without it looking bad when all else fails. Price is no object on this particular paint. I don't care if it's ultra-super-high-gloss. I don't care if it's matte... We'll probably be painting over the whole room in 5 years anyway when purple is no longer a desireable room color.

For the rest of it - we've got some flat finish light-colored painted walls. We'll put new satin finish light-colored paint over. There are some chips and dents that will probably need to be primed. Ideally we'll use the same primer under everything that needs to be primed, since I don't anticipate needing much in any one room. We're starting to paint about a week before we move in, so I'm not too concerned about odor.

On the trim, the existing paint has cracked at every corner. What causes this, and how we we prevent it? Paintable caulk? Better paint?

Nestor_Kelebay 08-31-2008 11:01 PM

The reason why your house was painted with a flat paint is because flat paints hide imperfections in the walls and ceilngs best. The fewer glitches people notice, the fewer complaints the contractor has to deal with.

The higher the gloss of the paint, the easier it is to clean. However, good "scrubbability" (yes, that is a real word) in paint requires that the paint have BOTH a binder that dries to a strong and hard film, and that the extender pigments in the paint (which are flattening agents and serve to lower the gloss of the paint) be made from a HARD material. Typically, the better and best paints will use various forms of silica (which is ground up silica sand) as the extender pigment. Inexpensive paints will use Talc or Chaulk as the extender pigment, and both are very soft materials. So, look for top-of-the-line paints that use silica as the extender pigment.

I'd opt for a satin in your house. It's smooth enough to allow for easy cleaning, but it's not so glossy as to make your house look like a hospital.

Better quality paints will use Plexiglas as the binder (or continuous plastic film). Plexiglas is unaffected by acids, weak solvents like paint thinner, bleach or even strong alkalis like oven cleaner. So, if push comes to shove, you can use these to clean your painted walls.

In daughter's room, you should be aware that the BEST product I've ever come across for cleaning marks and dirt off of paint is the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. (And, I own a small apartment block, so I do more cleaning than most.) It is a foam made from a very hard plastic that has a microstructure that really doesn't resemble anything familiar. A micrograph of the microstructure of the Magic Eraser can be found in this PDF file:*2g

Those tiny things the stuff is made of, which are far too small to be visible to the eye, get into the smallest indentations on a surface to clean the dirt out of them. Stock up on Magic Erasers at your local grocery store, and daughter's love of dirt and crayons on walls won't be a problem for you. But, be warned that the plastic Magic Erasers are made of is actually quite hard, and you can scrub off the paint from the wall by scrubbing too aggressively with them. Best a light touch.

And, because you know that acrylic paints are unaffected by acids, alkalis and weak solvents, you can dip your Magic Eraser in these to aid in cleaning the most stubborn marks off, and relatively easily too.

Google BASF Basotect foam to learn more about the chemistry and microstructure of Magic Erasers.

Wood shrinks as it dries. By far the most shrinkage is across the grain, but there is still about 1/10 of 1 percent shrinkage along the grain. This is the probable reason why you're seeing tiny cracks in the paint film on your wood moldings in corners.

In all 22 of my bathrooms, I use Zinsser's PermaWhite Bathroom paint, and all 22 bathrooms are clean and free of mildew for the past 20 years. You can buy this paint at most home centers.

Stay away from adding mildewcides to paint at the point of sale. Mildewcide has to leach out of the paint at the slowest possible rate to remain 100% effective to be effective for the longest possible time. Getting the right mildewcide for the right kind of paint binder is very much a trial-and-error process. Throwing a bag of Mildex into a can of paint before shaking it is very much a shot in the dark. You're better off going with a paint meant for bathrooms where the amount and kind of mildewcide has been optimized for the gloss level and binder in the paint.

Allison1888 09-03-2008 10:38 PM

I wonder if a tile backsplsh won't serve you better -- less maintenance and will last longer. In terms of paint finish, I hate flat paint because it's just so FLAT! I'd try satin or eggshell or something close.

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