Using mural paints vs house paint

A question I get quite often is “What type of paint do you use?” Or ” How much money can we save by using house paint? “

To start, house paint is probably about 30% cheaper than mural paints. And in many circumstances they work quite nicely. They are exterior rated, can be mixed to any custom color and are widely available. And depending on location they can look great for up to about 10 years before a noticeable fading occurs.

But from an artist perspective I like mural paints, for a few reasons.

First off, the colors are more pure and vibrant. If I were to mix a purple color from red and blue and have that color mixed in a house paint, the mural paint may be the same color, but is more vibrant. The reason is this: my purple is mixed with red and blue only. A house paint probably has black, Brown and other colors mixed in to get that purple color. It may be the same color, but has a cloudiness to it. And it becomes difficult to get the vibrancy that is almost automatic in mural paints. I can tone down the vibrancy of I choose to, but keep it if I want a nice “pop” of color.

Second is durability. Mural paints are stronger than house paints. They contain a higher percentage of acrylic resins than house paint.

Third is fading. Paint companies like to offer “lifetime warranties” on their paint. But read the fine print. What they are guaranteeing is the binders in the paint, not the pigments that color it. So it will fade, especially in the Florida sun. The pigments they use, especially, reds and blues, don’t do well long term in the Florida sun. So the paint film itself is fine, but the pigments within it have deteriorated.

As a mural artist, there are certain pigments that are very sensitive to UV light. Colors like Cadmium Red and yellow, Ultramarine Blue and Dioxinine Purple are horrible colors for exterior. They begin to fade immediately and within a year are almost non existent on an exterior wall that receives direct sun. Pyrol red and yellow oxide are much better choices and can do 90% of the work of cadmium colors. To the typical viewer they don’t notice the difference.

Lastly is techniques. As mural artists we use and apply paint in a much different fashion than a painting contractor. We are blending, fading, applying thick, applying thin, pouncing, glazing and a variety of other techniques. We need products that are designed for all those applications and doesn’t affect the paints performance. House paint is limited to its “mil thickness”. It is designed to be applied at a certain thickness to perform it’s function. If thinned down or applied thinly it actually voids the warranty of the paint film. Mural paints, on the other hand, are formulated to be mixed with other products, thinned, blended and abused.

Mural paint

From an artist point of view, Golden Paints is my favorite line of products. Not only do they have superior products, but their technical support is outstanding. It’s very easy to get a chemist in the phone and say ” I’m about to paint a mural and am considering doing _______ “. Their tech support will go out of their way to walk through a solution that not only looks great but doesn’t interfere with the integrity of the paint.

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