Buying Paint: What, Where, How, Why and When

Buying paint for your home comes along with lots of questions. Here’s everything you need to know.

Blue paint color brings this entire living space together.

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What…type of paint should I buy?

Great question! Not all paint is the same. There are formulations designed for every project and budget. Consider the room and its function (think easy-to-clean for kids’ playrooms). Ask your paint store about performance standards and match these with your needs.

Decisions to make:

  • Water-based, Acrylic or Alkyd
  • Self-priming or not self-priming
  • Green formulas such as zero emissions or zero VOC
  • Anti-microbial or mildew resistant
  • Low-spatter
  • Sheen levels from flat to super high gloss
  • One-coat coverage
These deep paint color makes this bathroom unique.

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Where…should I buy my paint?

You can find paint almost anywhere. So where to go? I recommend premium name brands such as Benjamin Moore, Sherwin-Williams or PPG Paints. If you can afford to spend more, try specialty lines such as Farrow and Ball or Fine Paints of Europe.

Like anything, the more you spend, the better the product, so skip the cheaper formulations and buy the best your wallet allows. Your paint will apply easier and look better longer.

Think about these factors when choosing:

  • Color Palette (do they have MY color?).
  • Color matching capabilities (if they don’t have your color, how accurate wil they be in making it for you?).
  • Ease of application. Good “open time”, drying time, touching-up and clean-up properties. These can make for a much more pleasant experience if you’re going DIY.
  • Ratings on overall quality from reputable reviewers.
  • Longevity. how long will my paint job look like new?
  • Ease of sampling (ask about how you can sample colors).

How…do I know if I have asked all the right questions?

Consult the pros! Interior designers, painters, contractors, and paint store personnel have tons of info to share. Don’t ever hesitate to ask questions. Even if the question is “Have I asked the right questions?”. They may fire back with questions, for you but that’s ok, too!

The important thing is to avoid any major disappointments that will cost you time and money. A “small thing” like the sheen level can make all the difference in how you like your paint application. No detail is too small to consider.

By far, the best advice at this step is to SAMPLE, SAMPLE, SAMPLE. Most suppliers offer small jars of paint in popular colors. If yours isn’t one of them, buy at least a quart of it. Paint a spot or wall and live with it for a few days in all lighting conditions. Make sure you like it! If not, keep trying until you feel it’s right. If you’re working with an interior designer, have them help you narrow your options to a few choices and assess the sampled walls before the big jump.

Why…spend so much time choosing the right paint?

Choose a paint color after you've selected furniture and decor.

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The short and obvious answer is that paint is an expense that you don’t want to repeat if the job turns out badly, especially if using a pro. The longer answer is that a beautiful paint job with a quality product is an asset to your home:

  • It adds to the overall beauty of the room.
  • It can enhance the experience of your fabrics, woods and metals.
  • It is part of your room’s design, not just the backdrop.
  • It is there for your enjoyment and should give you pleasure every time you look at it.
  • It is a reflection of your unique style and it should add to the atmosphere you wish to have in your surroundings.

When…should I paint?

Surprise! When you’re designing a room, choose your paint color last.

Sure, you can set out on a path toward a room with a definite color, say, a navy blue. There are many versions of navy blue, but only one that will be perfect for your room. Save the decision on the exact shade of the color until after you have selected everything else – fabrics, flooring and finishes.

Remember, paint colors can be tweaked to fit in with the other things you have, but not the other way around. When have you ever heard of a custom fabric color for your sofa? Most importantly, try to have all of your lighting in place before choosing color as this element is key to your perception of color.

Kim Cibak


Over the last 25 years I have been fortunate enough to help many people realize their dreams of having more beautiful surroundings at home. From total room transformation to just picking a new lamp! My joy comes from finding out what inspires you the client and creating an interior for you that has your personal imprint and that honors your unique way of seeing things.

To schedule a free interior design consultation with me, click here or call our North Hills location at 412-364-4760.