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A Paint Primer Cheat Sheet (DRAFT) by [deleted]

This is a draft cheat sheet. It is a work in progress and is not finished yet.


The right paint for your repainting project is out there, but do you know how to find it? Determine what makes a product the right one with this guide to the types and ingred­ients of paint.

Understand Paint Types and Formulas

Paints are typically catego­rized according to resin type and where the paints are used. Latex, oil-based or alkyd, and waterborne alkyd are the major categories of paints, and each will be marked according to where it can be used, such as interior, exterior, wall, trim or floor, he adds. Any of them can be paired with a primer if needed, though some paints are advertised as self-p­riming.

Carriers (solvents or water):

All of the other ingred­ients are suspended in this liquid, which evaporates after applic­ation and is not present in the final dried paint film.
Carriers allow the product to flow and level approp­ria­tely.
Solvents are used as the carrier in oil-based paint, while water is used for latex products.

Binders (also known as resin)

Ensures that the paint sticks to the surface and makes the film more durable. Binders are the “glue” that holds everything else in the can together.


These add color and opacity. Binders and pigments are the two biggest components in a can of paint, Zimmer notes: “Pigment is not the color that you get at the point of sale. The pigment is typically titanium dioxide, which provides whiteness, hiding and bulk.”


The miscel­laneous ingred­ients that can provide a myriad of different charac­ter­istics, including mildew resist­ance, aid in applic­ation, and improved adhesion.
Other common additives include stiffe­ners, which ensure a proper applic­ation consis­tency and help control spatter, and defoamers, which break up bubbles during mixing and applic­ation.

Pick the Right Product

In high traffic areas like hallways, select more neutral colors that are easier to maintain over time. While bright colors can serve as a nice accent for entryways, lobbies or conference rooms, they may need to be touched up or repainted more often when subject to heavy abuse.


Consider VOC Content

Low volatile organic chemical (VOC) content. Common VOCs like texanol, butyl cellos­olve, butyl carbitol, ethylene and propylene glycol are commonly used to help with film formation and drying, but also have the potential to create holes in the ozone layer and can cause headaches and other complaints for occupants. Green certif­ication programs and other sustai­nab­ility initia­tives have responded by emphas­izing the use of low- or zero-VOC paints to combat these problems.

However, VOCs can genuinely serve an important purpose:
“Low-VOC paints tend to have less freeze­-thaw resistance than high-VOC or high-s­olvent paints and may not form films as well in enviro­nments below 50 degrees F.
Tend to have less block and dirt pickup resistance due to the use of softer, lower-Tg (glass transition temper­ature) polymers, which are required for adequate film formation without the presence of VOCs.

To determine whether to use a low-VOC paint::
Review the VOC level requir­ements of your region or state as well as any green certif­ication programs.
A low-VOC paint is also be a good choice for a closed space where occupants will be present during painting or soon afterward.
Even low-VOC paints may still emit odors.

Smart Repaint Strategies

Survey the surface to be painted and make sure it’s dry and free of any mildew, dust, dirt, loose rust or other contam­inants, Depending on the material you plan to paint, surface prepar­ation may also involve cleaning with commercial deterg­ents, patching or filling imperf­ections or spackling.

Next, consult the label to see what thickness and applic­ation method the manufa­cturer recomm­ends. Most paints can be applied using your choice of a brush, roller or spray, but some are designed to work with one method – dry fogs, for example, should only be applied with an airless sprayer. Spray applic­ation is more common in new constr­uction, While repainting projects in existing buildings are usually tackled by hand brushing a few inches around corners and edges (referred to as “cutting in”) and then using a paint roller to cover the rest.

Start at the top and work down. Do the ceiling first by "­cutting in" and then rollering the ceiling. Come down to the wall, cut in, roller the walls, and finish up with the trim and door. Many paint ceilings white and the wall surfaces some other color, so to get that clean, straight line between the wall and the ceiling – that’s where cutting in helps. It’s also necessary where the walls meet at the corners and next to the trim because a roller can’t get close enough.