In times past, the biggest decision for any painter was which color to use. But thanks to steady technological advances, we now have the luxury of choosing paints that offer not just a near-limitless rainbow of hues, but also the exact appearance and performance qualities needed for virtually any interior paint job.

“There’s been a near-explosion of options when it comes to water-based latex coatings,” said Debbie Zimmer, paint and color expert at the Paint Quality Institute. “Today, you can choose from a wide array of sheen levels, each of which offers different benefits, plus specially-formulated coatings designed to speed your painting and meet almost any challenge imaginable.”

With that in mind, if you’re about to undertake an interior painting project, try to conjure up the absolute perfect paint for your needs. You’ll likely be able to find that ideal paint at your local paint retailer, and knowing exactly what you want beforehand will make things far easier when you get to the store.

Let’s say that you have limited time to complete your project — maybe you can work only on the weekend, or you have company arriving. A self-priming paint (one that serves as both primer and paint) can hide even hard-to-conceal colors with fewer coats than normally required, enabling you to more quickly finish your project before returning to work or greeting your guests.

Or, maybe your house is full of little ones who tend to leave marks and fingerprints wherever they go. By choosing a high-sheen, top quality 100 percent acrylic latex paint, you’ll get a tough finish with exceptional stain resistance — giving your walls and woodwork a fighting chance to remain clean and fresh-looking no matter what.

What if the room you plan to paint has a variety of different surfaces — for example, vinyl doors, wood trim, and walls made of plaster or drywall? Rather than buying several different kinds of paint, you can simply purchase a “universal” coating such as a high-end latex paint made with 100 percent acrylic that performs well on many different materials. It will provide exceptional adhesion even to slick surfaces like vinyl. (Purchasing one type of paint will likely pay dividends at the cash register, too.)

Have walls or woodwork full of little nicks and imperfections? Then choose a totally “flat” paint, which will dry to a non-reflective, matte finish. Its lack of sheen will make those minor imperfections far less noticeable.

Are you a stickler for color? Then you’ll want to choose paint with good color retention — like a quality acrylic coating — or watch helplessly as your carefully selected shades fade into pastels as time passes.

According to Zimmer, today’s paint manufacturers have anticipated all of these needs and more, and have formulated coatings to meet each and every challenge. Take time to consider your needs, try to imagine the characteristics of your perfect paint, and you’ll likely find it sitting on a shelf at your local paint store.

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