How do I figure out how much paint I’ll need for my project? It seems that every time I paint, I either have leftover paint or not quite enough and have to go back to the store for more!

There are many factors involved, but for most interior projects the following will usually give you an accurate estimate of your needs. Simply calculate the square footage of the surfaces to be painted and divide by the number of square feet that the manufacturer indicates can be covered by a gallon of your selected paint. For example, if a room is 8 feet by 16 feet with 8-foot ceilings, your square footage is 384 (the circumference times the ceiling height). If you have a number of windows and doors, subtract the square footage of those openings (standard doors are about 21 square feet, standard windows about 15 square feet). For many paints, including primers and stains, a gallon will cover about 400 square feet. Since two coats are normally recommended for most projects, two gallons would be needed for the 8-by-16-foot room example. (This assumes there are no doors or windows.) Remember, it’s always a good idea to have a little leftover paint for future touchups.

When purchasing paint, I’ve been asked if I want flat, high gloss, satin, and even an eggshell finish. What do these terms mean, and does it really make any difference what kind of finish I have?

Those terms refer to the sheen or gloss level of the paint, and, yes, it does make a difference which one you use. The sheen or gloss level simply means the degree of light reflectance of the paint.

High Gloss is usually used for kitchen and bathroom walls. This is more durable, stain-resistant, and easier to wash. However, the higher the gloss, the more likely surface imperfections will be noticed.

Semi-gloss is used for kitchen and bathroom walls, hallways, children’s rooms, playrooms, doors, woodwork and trim. It is more stain-resistant and easier to clean than flat paints.

Satin or Silk has similar characteristics to semi-gloss and eggshell. Eggshell is used in place of flat paints on wall surfaces, especially in halls, bathrooms, and playrooms. Can be used in place of semi-gloss paints on trim for a less shiny appearance.

Flat and Matte is used on walls and ceilings. It generally hides surface imperfections. Stain removal can be difficult and the paint is best suited for low-traffic areas.