Solvent-based (oil or alkyd): Oil-based paint dries slower than latex - usually taking 24 hours to cure. It cleans up with turpentine or paint thinner. Oil-based is the best choice if you're going to paint over a surface that's already been painted with an oil-based paint. Latex should not be used over an oil-based paint because it will peel.
Water-based (latex): Latex paint dries fast and cleans up easier than oil-based paint, requiring only soap and water. Another advantage is that latex expands in warmer temperatures and contracts in cooler temperatures so it's durable under varying conditions.
Sheen describes the degree of light reflection paint has. Usually the less sheen paint has, the less stain-resistant it is. Different manufacturers may have various trade names for them, but in general sheens are classified as follows:
Gloss is the toughest. It cleans easily and resists scuffs better so it's a good choice for areas in constant use, like door jambs and window casings. For shutters and trimwork, gloss paint provides a nice contrast to the siding. Gloss paint will, however, show imperfections in the surface more than other sheens.
Semi-gloss paints are also durable and easy to clean, but have less shine than gloss. They are, however, just as suitable for trimwork and casings.
Satin (sometimes referred to as eggshell or low luster) offers a good combination of easy-clean and moderate sheen. It works well on siding that's in good condition.
Flat paint is the best choice for vinyl and aluminum siding that's scratched or dented because it hides imperfections well and spatters less when applied. It's also easier to touch up.
Good to Know
If you want to change colors, buy a small quantity of your color choice. Try it out before purchasing several gallons. Paint a small area and wait a few days. Paints can react to each other and cast reflections that may change the appearance.
A primer is necessary to help paint adhere to the surface, providing a more uniform appearance and a longer-lasting finish. A primer is also needed if you're repainting over existing bright or dark colors.