Interior Paints 101 (Tips To Save Your Wall And Your Wallet)

by Eugene Kok

First and foremost we apologise as we are unable to include any visual aid into this posts as the best way to understand and to judge a paint is to physically feel the paint, in order not to mislead any of our readers we have to omit the visual portion. However a more interesting post coming up next!


Most people have little to no idea on the types of paint available in the market, or at most their knowledge is only bound to oil paint and latex paint (water paint to some). I shall furnish you with general information about paints available for interiors. It will save your walls for future repainting as well as wallets.

Generally there are – yes, two types of paint oil based paint or alkyd paints and latex paint which in general Malaysian call it water paint.

However please do bear in mind that we HomeDecoMalaysia strongly advise that we leave painting back to the professionals as it require skills and some of the solvent used (thinner) are poisonous, flammable and it can burn your skin.

Oil Based Paint

These have excellent adhesion characteristics and are a good choice for heavily chalked surfaces and areas with several layers of old oil-based paint. However, oil-based interior paints can fade, chip, chalk and crack over time. Oil-based paint is more difficult to apply, and it has a stronger odour than latex paint. It also takes longer to dry (24 hours or more), leaving your newly painted room out of service for some time. Cleanup requires the use of solvents (thinner), which means that extra care must be taken in the handling and disposing of rags. Those are just some of the reasons why experts recommend regular latex interior paint for nearly all situations.

Latex Paint or commonly known to Malaysian as Water Paint

Most homeowners don’t realise that “latex” paint actually contains no latex at all. Instead, manufacturers use synthetic acrylic, vinyl and other polymers. Paints labelled 100 percent acrylic have the highest durability of all latex interior paints and stand up better to washing, making them an especially good choice for families or high-traffic areas. However, they are also more expensive than paints that use a blend of acrylic, vinyl and other polymers. Generally a can of 5 litres blend will cost about RM50-60 and a full acrylic costs about RM80 and above depending on the brand and colour. However this can be mark up by unlicensed contractors by at least 30-100%, so make sure that you read the can and label  to ensure the quality of paint applied.

(prices above are as of the date this article is posted)

For those avid readers here are more information about the types of finishing;-

  • Gloss: This type of paint finish is shiny, with an almost reflective quality that looks similar to enamel or plastic. Gloss finish is typically used on cabinets, banisters, railings, shelves and trims, because it gives a dramatic look to formal and contemporary rooms, and is easy to clean. Be aware that a gloss finish will magnify any surface imperfections, and sanding will be required prior to painting for the best results.
  • Semigloss: A semigloss paint finish has a subtle shine and is used to accentuate cabinets, banisters and trims without being too glitzy. As with gloss finishes, semigloss finishes are easy to clean and will magnify surface imperfections.
  • Satin: This finish has a velvety, smooth look with just a hint of gloss. Satin-finish paint can be used as wall paint, although professional painters say it is better used for windows, doors and trim in high-traffic areas like hallways, kitchens, bathrooms and children’s rooms. Satin paint easily withstands cleaning and light scrubbing.
  • Eggshell: Another easy-to-clean paint, eggshell has a very low sheen with just a hint of gloss. Eggshell is mostly used for walls in high-traffic areas like hallways, kitchens, baths and children’s rooms.
  • Matte or flat: A matte (or flat) finish offers muted, low reflection and is best suited for ceilings, walls and areas with surface imperfections. Matte paint is a good choice for uneven walls. This paint works best in low-traffic areas, because it’s not very easy to clean. Washable flat paints now on the market do make cleanup easier. However, a matte finish will show scratches and scuff marks, and keep some extra paint on hand for touch-ups.