bookmark_borderCommercial Painting Estimating Guide

A Beginner’s Guide to the Many Different Paint Types and Finishes

If you’re looking to add a splash of new color to your home, choosing the right type of paint and finish for the job can be a little daunting at first, especially if you’re a novice when it comes to paints. Not only are there a multitude of colors to choose from, but there are paints made from different materials and several types of finishes, or sheens, available as well. Different paints also feature their own attributes, such as ease of cleanup and durability, which will impact your project and the final product.

There is a lot to consider, but with just a little research, you can confidently choose the ideal paint and finish for your project and avoid feeling any buyer’s remorse once the paint dries.


This step is important, because certain paint finishes mesh differently with certain rooms. For example, if you’re painting your kitchen, you should choose a paint that cleans easily and is fade-resistant, like a high-gloss finish. If you’re painting a room that receives ample sunlight, it might be best to stray from shiny sheens that reflect too brightly and instead opt for a matte finish.


Paints are made from a variety of different materials. While the most common paints are water-based and oil-based paints, there are also specialty paints and natural wood finishes that are mineral spirit or thinner-based. There are also paints made from natural oils and alkyds. The paint type you choose could change the entire dynamic of a room or your home’s exterior.

  • Primer and First Coat – It’s recommended you first apply a base coat of primer before painting any wall. Interior decorative finishes last much longer and are less likely to peel and crack when a primer coat is first applied. Primer also helps cover up old paint and minimizes the appearance of old stains and even odors.
  • Water-Based – Water-based paint – either latex or acrylic – is the most common paint type used on interior walls. In general, water-based paints are quick drying, feature easy clean-up, are resistant to cracking and provide a more stable covering. Plus, water-based paints are considered more environmentally friendly, as they carry low levels of toxic emissions (VOCs).
  • Oil-Based – Oil-based paint is a nice option if you’re looking for a higher quality alternative to water-based, as they are more durable, feature a more attractive gloss and possess a smoother finish. It does, however, require turpentine or paint thinner for clean-up. Using oil-based paint on trim while using water-based on the walls is a popular choice, as trim takes more abuse and walls require more frequent cleanup.


There are many types of finishes and while no one finish is better than another, they all have applications that they are best suited for and varying levels of sheen (how much light bounces off of it).

  • Matte – Matte finishes deliver a pigmented and smooth look, with little to no sheen since they absorb light. They cover imperfections and stains but are not very durable, which means they are best suited for low-traffic areas like a bedroom.
  • Eggshell – Eggshell finishes are similar to matte finishes in sheen and are one of the most popular finishes. They are perfect for mid-traffic areas such as hallways and living rooms since they are more washable than matte sheens.
  • Satin – Satin finishes are the most commonly chosen finishes, providing a soft, almost pearl-like sheen. It is ideal for indoor or outdoor use and is resistant to mildew and facing. Satin finishes work well in high-traffic areas such as kitchens or playrooms, as well as areas that are exposed to moisture such as laundry and bathrooms.
  • Semi-Gloss – Semi-gloss finishes are more reflective than satin, with a smooth and shiny appearance. They are also resistant to moisture and stains, so they work well in high-traffic or high-humidity areas. One downside is that they are more likely to show blemishes on surfaces since they reflect light, so using a primer is an important step before painting with a semi-gloss paint.
  • High-Gloss – High-gloss has the highest level of reflection, giving a high-shine and glass-like finish to any surface. It is ideal for doors and cabinets, as well as outdoor spots that have great curb appeal, such as shutters. It is also the most durable and easiest to clean of all the paint sheens.

Different paints for different places

Find out at a glance if a paint shade you like is suitable for your space by reading the tin. You’ll find that some paints are designed for particular environments: for example, you can buy paint specifically designed to withstand steam and condensation that’s ideal for bathrooms. Kitchen paints are moisture-resistant and can withstand grease and stains.

What Is Powder Coating?

Powder coating is a multi-step finishing process. In the first step, a product (usually a metal part) is cleaned and prepared for coating. Next, it is coated with a fine powder. The powder covers the part’s surface. In the final step, the part is moved into a curing oven. The product is then heated in the oven, allowing the powder to melt and flow into a uniform coating that adheres to the part. This creates a very durable and attractive coating around the product once the melted powder cools and harden

Acrylics – The Beginner’s Choice

Acrylics are widely favored by those just starting out with painting as they are easy to use and do not require any special supplies. The downside is they dry very fast.

Acrylics may suit you if:

  • You are a complete beginner and do not want to worry yourself with the complexities of oil and watercolor painting.
  • You want an easy cleanup time.
  • You are painting on a limited budget.
  • You enjoy experimenting with mixed media.
  • You are sensitive to the harsh chemicals involved with oil painting.

The downsides of acrylics are:

  • The paint dries very fast. This means you only have a limited amount of time whilst your paint is responsive on the canvas.
  • Some colors darken as they dry (the colors which are lighter tend to have a greater change).

bookmark_borderHow To Do Drywall Repairs Hole

How to Repair Drywall

Drywall is relatively simple to install and easy to repair. It’s also easy to repair badly, which can leave a lumpy mess that declares “shoddy” to anyone who enters the room.

It’s best to do a repair with three or four thin coats of compound–if possible leaving sanding for just the last coat. Also, “the most important thing with a repair is to build the joint out wider than you would normally,” says drywall contractor Rick Schwartz, who serves as secretary treasurer of Marietta Drywall in Marietta, Ga. The key is to leave a wide and very shallow slope on all sides, he says

Note that in some cases we show mesh tape with lightweight or all-purpose compound applied over it. Strictly speaking, for maximum strength mesh tape is best used with setting-type drywall compound. For small repairs, however, that’s impractical. If you’re really concerned about strength, use paper tape for all repairs. Be advised that it’s more difficult to work with in some of the repairs we show.

Watch The Weight

If you have several large repairs to do and you’ll be buying a sheet or two of drywall, be advised that a sheet of regular 1/2-in. drywall weighs about 1.7 pounds per square foot. That means a 1/2-in. 4 x 8-ft. sheet weighs a bit more than 54 pounds (a 3/8-in. sheet weighs almost 45 pounds). If you stand it on edge and it falls over, someone–especially a child–could get hurt.

Beware Of Buckets

Five-gal. compound buckets pose a drowning or suffocation hazard to small children–when they are new and filled with compound, or later after they are cleaned and used for car washing and other jobs.

Tips for Working with Drywall

We’ve hung and patched and primed and finished our fair share of drywall. Check out this compilation of tips for working with drywall to make your next build or repair easier

Use Setting Compound for Big Holes

It’s fine to fill screw holes and other small wall dings with patching compound, but for dime-size and larger drywall repairs, and for holes that are deep, it’s best to use a joint compound that sets up by a chemical reaction. These are available in powder form with setting times ranging from five to 90 minutes. The reaction starts when you mix in the water, and the compound hardens in the specified time. The five-minute version is nice because you can buy the powder in a convenient 5-lb. box, and the compound hardens quickly, so you can apply another coat right away. Remember, setting-type compounds are harder to sand than regular patching materials, so make sure to strike them off flush to the surface when you fill the hole. You’ll find setting-type compounds wherever drywall taping supplies are sold.

Make a Dent for the Patching Compound

When you remove a nail, drywall anchor or picture hanger, there is usually a little ridge of old paint or drywall sticking out that’s hard to cover with patching material. The solution is to make a dent over the hole, and then fill the dent. Most good-quality putty knives have a rounded hard plastic or brass end on the handle that works perfectly for making the dent. The rounded end of a screwdriver handle or the handle of a utility knife will also work. Press the handle against the hole and twist it slightly while applying pressure to dent the surface, or if you have good aim, use your denting tool like a hammer

Cover Cracks with Repair Spray

Stress cracks usually show up around window and door openings. The cracks are the result of framing movement and are hard to fix permanently. But using spray-on crack repair is a good way to at least extend the life of your repair. The spray forms a flexible membrane over the crack that can stretch and relax as the building moves.

Rent a Drywall Lift for Ceiling Work

If you have to drywall a ceiling, don’t hesitate to rent a lift. It’s well worth the daily rental fee and is by far the best way to get a ceiling up without back strain.

Tips for Better Drywall Taping

To hide “butt joints” (where two non-tapered ends of drywall meet), you have to build up a hump of joint compound that’s very thin and wide. This is time consuming and difficult to do well. So if you’re a novice drywall finisher, avoiding butt joints is smart.

The best way to avoid butt joints is to use sheets of drywall that are long enough to cover entire walls and ceilings. As a result, you’ll have only tapered joints to finish. Drywall sheets are commonly available in 8- and 12-ft. lengths, and specialty suppliers carry 14-ft. sheets.

If your ceiling is longer than 14 ft., you can’t avoid butt joints. But you can avoid butt joints on a wall that exceeds 14 ft. Simply hang the sheets vertically rather than horizontally. That way, you’ll have several tapered joints to cover, but no butt joints. Hanging drywall vertically is slower than hanging it horizontally because you have to make sure the tapered edges fall at the centers of studs. Cut the first sheet to width so the tapered edge lands on the center of a stud. After that, the edges of each sheet should fall perfectly on studs. If you run into misplaced studs, nail 2x2s to them. If you have 9-ft. ceilings, call a drywall supplier to find 10-ft.-long sheets.

Use mesh tape, not paper

Pros use paper tape to strengthen joints. But in less-skilled hands, paper tape can ripple, slip out of place or trap air bubbles. If you push too hard as you embed paper tape, you’ll squeeze out all the joint compound behind it and the tape will peel off later. Adhesive-backed mesh tape eliminates all those glitches. Just stick it in place and it stays put, leaving you free to concentrate on spreading a smooth coat of mud. And since it doesn’t require an underlying layer of compound, mesh allows for a thinner buildup over butt joints and repairs. You can use mesh anywhere except inside corners.

Fill joints faster with setting-type compound

Mixing up setting compound is a messy nuisance, but it’s worth it. Setting compound has three key advantages over premixed versions: It allows you to use mesh tape, it hardens fast and it shrinks much less. Quick hardening and low shrinkage make setting compound perfect for deep filling. A thick layer of premixed compound takes days to dry and shrinks. You’ll need several coats to fill the depression, and the more layers you add, the harder it is to get smooth results.

Choosing the Best Type of Drywall Compound

Drywall mud, also called joint compound, is a gypsum-based paste used to finish drywall joints and corners in new drywall installations. It’s also handy for repairing cracks and holes in existing drywall and plaster surfaces. Drywall mud comes in four basic types, and each has its advantages and disadvantages. You may choose one type for your project or use a combination of compounds for the desired results.

All-Purpose Compound: Best All-Around Drywall Mud

All-purpose compound is a pre-mixed mud sold in buckets and boxes. It can be used for all phases of drywall finishing: embedding joint tape and filler and finish coats, as well as for texturing and skim-coating. Because it is lightweight and has a slow drying time, it’s very easy to work with and is the preferred option for DIYers for coating the first three layers over drywall joints. However, an all-purpose compound is not as strong as other types, such as topping compound.

Topping Compound: Best Mud for Final Coats

Topping compound is the ideal mud to use after the first two coats of taping compound have been applied to a taped drywall joint. Topping compound is a low-shrinking compound that goes on smoothly and offers a very strong bond. It is also highly workable. Topping compound typically is sold in dry powder that you mix with water. This does make it less convenient than premixed compound, but it allows you to mix just as much as you need; you can save the rest of the dry powder for future use.

Taping Compound: Best for Applying Tape and Covering Plaster Cracks

True to its name, a taping compound is ideal for embedding joint tape for the first phase of finishing drywall joints. Taping compound dries harder and is more difficult to sand than all-purpose and topping compounds. Taping compound is also the best option if you need to cover plaster cracks and when superior bonding and crack-resistance are required, such as around door and window openings (which tend to crack due to house settling). It is also the best mud option for laminating drywall panels in multi-layer partitions and ceilings.

Quick-Setting Compound: Best When Time Is Critical

Commonly called “hot mud,” quick-setting compound is ideal when you need to finish a job quickly or when you want to apply multiple coats on the same day. Sometimes called simply “setting compound,” this form is also useful for filling deep cracks and holes in drywall and plaster, where drying time can become an issue. If you are working in an area with high humidity, you might want to use this compound to ensure a proper drywall finish. It sets by chemical reaction, rather than simple evaporation of water, as is the case with other compounds. This means that quick-setting compound will set in damp conditions.


Drywall repair is a common home maintenance task that many homeowners can do themselves. The skill set, tools and techniques required for drywall repair depend on the size of the hole. If you can flip a fried egg, you can easily patch a small nick in your drywall, but it gets trickier as the holes get bigger. But don’t worry; Mr. Handyman is here to help! Download our Drywall Repair Guide for step-by-step instructions.

Drywall Repair Techniques

The size of the hole will determine what method of repair you’ll use. You may not need all of these tools – before you purchase anything, reference the guidelines below to see what you’ll need. You’ll find the required materials listed with each step. Drywall tape is available in paper or mesh, select mesh if you have a choice. The tools in bold are required for each step, regardless of hole size.


Small holes in drywall are simple to fix. Any hole larger than a nickel should be repaired with the instructions under Medium or Large hole. Use spackle or joint compound to fill the hole. If you’re using joint compound, buy it pre-mixed for small DIY jobs. Spackle may shrink as it dries in larger holes and may require an extra application. Joint compound may run out or bulge as it sets and will require sanding and a second application.


For a professional finish follow the instructions under Large hole. This method requires finesse to feather the joint compound into the rest of the wall – if not done correctly, you will see a slight bulge in the wall. You must feather the repair area (gradually reduce the thickness outward) when applying the joint compound and in the sanding stage. Use a drywall patch that is slightly larger than the hole that needs to be repaired. You can purchase these at your local hardware store. Look for a kit, which will include everything you need


Take your time, and be careful not to nick any wires or plumbing during installation. Although this method requires more tools, the final result is more professional looking.