How Much Paint Do I Need?

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Paint is a liquid that is used to color or provide protection for surfaces such as walls, wood, plaster, metal, and concrete. In addition to function, paint is often used as a means by which one can express themselves. Paint may also be used to render scenes from history or imagination, such as paintings with religious content. 

In this article, we look at all aspects of paint including the different types of paint available. Be sure to also check out our article on best kitchen paint colors with white cabinets.

Below, we look at the advantages and disadvantages of each type along with information on how to paint the most common surfaces. Let's get started. 

The Colors Within: How to Choose Interior House Paint
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Paint needed for different rooms in the house.

The amount of paint needed for a room can vary greatly depending on the size and color you want it to be. Paint suppliers will usually sell standard volumes of paint based on the number of square feet in a given space, but you should measure your own space to make sure this is correct. Generally, 250 square feet takes approximately 1 gallon of paint.

However, if you have high ceilings or large rooms with many windows, more may be required. If you are covering a dark color with a light color then twice as much paint may be required to cover adequately. Painting tiles or wood floors can use a great deal more paint than walls.

You should always measure the walls and ceiling before going shopping for paint because there are no standard measurements when it comes to the number of square feet in a room.

The reason why paint is sold by the gallon is that it makes it easier for consumers to understand how much paint they will need. If paints were sold by weight or volume, then people would have no idea how much paint they are getting. This could lead them to buy too much or too little. A gallon of paint typically weighs between 7 and 8 pounds so this is an easy way to measure your needs based on your capacity and needs.

Types of paint available

1. Water-based Latex paint

Advantages: Water-based latex paint is easy to clean up with soap and water, compared with oil-based paints which require mineral spirits or turpentine for cleanup. Latex paint is also more environmentally friendly, biodegradable, non-flammable, and contains fewer VOCs (volatile organic compounds).

Disadvantages: Since it dries quickly, you must work in small sections of the project area. Latex paint does not offer the same durability, washability, and resistance to mildew that oil-based paints do.

2. Oil-Based Paint

Advantages: Oil-based paints can cover surfaces well because they are thicker than water-based paints. They do not lose adhesion in humid conditions, so they don't peel easily. The resins in oil-based paint give it long-lasting durability and washability.

Disadvantages: You need to use special thinner (mineral spirits or turpentine) for cleanup of the brushes used with oil-based paints, which requires proper ventilation when using these chemicals. In addition, oil is a more expensive option since it's petroleum-based while latex is less expensive since it's water-based.

Oil-Based Paint
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3. Alkyd Paint

Alkyd, also known as oil-modified or OMA, contains a combination of oil and alkyds that improve durability and adhesion over pure oil paints. An additive in the paint provides resistance to mildew and fungus growth when exposed to moisture, which can expand and contract cracks in the wall where mildew thrives. Alkyd coatings also provide anti-graffiti protection when applied to exterior walls because they are harder to remove than latex or true oils when subjected to graffiti removers such as methylene chloride (MC).

Advantages: Durable with good washability, but not recommended for surfaces as stucco outdoors due to its susceptibility to fungus growth.

Disadvantages: Requires more coats, which means more time and money for the painting project.

4. Acrylic paint

Advantages: Can cover surfaces well because it is thicker than water-based paints. It doesn't lose adhesion in humid conditions, so it doesn't peel easily. Acrylic paint also provides good washability and durability after drying with no need for a sealer or topcoat application. However, acrylics do not provide anti-graffiti protection when applied to exterior walls because they are easy to remove if subjected to surface hardeners such as methylene chloride (MC).

Disadvantages: Requires ventilation when using thinner since it is petroleum-based like oil paints instead of water-based like latex paint. Thinner damages the ozone layer by increasing the depletion of stratospheric ozone.

5. Epoxy paint

Epoxy paints contain high levels of solid resin combined with a solvent system, so they have a fast dry time and excellent adhesion properties. They provide good chemical resistance and abrasion resistance, but only when applied to fiberglass or epoxy surfaces such as concrete or steel, not wood or traditional masonry surfaces where oil-based paints are recommended for durability instead of epoxy is more costly than oil-based paint too.

Advantages: Waterproofing capabilities that can protect against corrosive substances such as chemicals or salt water spray from the ocean, which ensures its place in marine applications.

Disadvantages: Requires ventilation when using thinner since it is petroleum-based like oil paints instead of water-based like latex paint. Thinner damages the ozone layer by increasing the depletion of stratospheric ozone which exacerbates global warming.

House Paint Ideas
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How Much Paint Do I Need – FAQ

How do I paint a wall?

Painting a wall is a relatively easy and inexpensive task. As long as you follow the correct steps, it should take no more than 4 hours to paint an average-sized room (10′ x 12′) with 2 coats of paint. Here's how:

  • 1. Vacuum the entire room
  • 2. Apply tape to pieces of trim, ceiling, doors, and baseboards
  • 3. Smooth the walls with a small brush for texture or a roller for smooth walls
  • 4. Wipe off any dust from sanding or brushing
  • 5. Paint one wall at a time starting with the bottom of the wall working your way up using an “S” stroke with your roller covering about 2′ of the area at a time
  • 6. Apply paint every 6 inches to ensure complete coverage
  • 7. Lightly roll on the second coat waiting 30 minutes before rolling again to prevent paint from accumulating in the roller
  • 8. Allow 24 hours for the 1st coat to dry and 48 hours for the second coat to dry before walking on or rehanging any items on the wall

What's involved in painting laminate cabinets?

Painting laminate cabinets is similar to painting walls. Just make sure that you do not paint any area of the cabinet that will be visible after installation, such as the hinges or handles.

Another option is to apply painter's tape to the edges of your cabinet and paint around them.

Final thoughts on paint and how much is needed

In conclusion, it is hard to determine how much paint you need for your room. One thing that I will recommend is to buy more than you need, especially if it is your first time painting.

One good piece of advice I could give you, however, would be to read reviews about certain paints or equipment before buying them. One needs to have an idea of what they are getting into whether it's their first time or not, so research well.

Manufacturers also create one coat paint with its own applications.

Ryan Copley

Ryan Copley

Having spent years participating in bathroom, kitchen, and home renovations, Ryan uses this experience to write informative blog posts on a wide variety of home renovation and kitchen topics.

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