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Choosing the right paint for your home isn’t just about picking out colors and grabbing a paint brush. The colors you want for your house are a big part of it, but just as important as getting your home’s color scheme right is choosing the right type of paint for the job.

Oil versus acrylic

The paint you buy for your home will either be oil-based, or acrylic. While one is water-soluble and the other is not, the main consideration is how they dry: oil-based paints form a hard, impermeable coating on the surface you paint it on, whereas acrylic paints “breathe,” let moisture pass, and will expand and contract with the surface it’s painted on.

How does this affect your choice? Think of the climate where you live. If you get a lot of moisture intrusion, then where an oil-based finish might blister as the moisture from within tries to escape, an acrylic finish will let the moisture through. If you have extremes of hot and cold where you live, then as your siding expands and contracts, an oil-based finish may crack, whereas an acrylic finish is unlikely to do so.

Going with what works

This is not to say that an acrylic paint is better all-around than an oil-based one. These examples simply highlight how the two are different. Since you can’t paint a coat of one over an existing coat of the other, if your house already has an existing coat, and it worked fine in the past, then there’s nothing wrong with going with what you’ve had all along.

Choosing colors

When picking out colors to paint your house, consider also the other existing colors already in and around your home. If your house is built of brick or stone, or if you have a lot of foliage around, you can pick out colors that play up these features. This not only saves on paint, but also helps harmonize your home’s colors.

Now that you’ve got your paint, you’re ready to get the job started, but are you sure you want to pick up that paint brush yourself? Part II lists some things you might want to consider.