There are several basic types of paints that are available. The list below is not comprehensive, but it will give you a good idea of what is available.
oil and Alkyds
Oil paints are paints that contain linseed oil, and alkyd paint are created with synthetic resins (alkyds) If you have ever painted with either you know why water based paints have become the norm. There are several drawbacks to oil based paints. They smell (more of a problem if you are painting inside). This is a result of VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds). Oil paints are also not as flexible as water based paints. This is important to consider if you live in a region where the temperature fluctuates such as New England, which results in wood expansion and and shrinking. If you see an old paint that is cracking a lot, you can bet is an oil based paint. Finally, oil based paints are a pain to clean up. They do have positives, which are that they are more durable than water based paints, and they take longer to dry, which allows to paint to have a smoother look, which is refereed to as leveling.
There are two major selling points to water based paints. They are easier to clean up, and they have much less VOCs than oil based paints. This means that they are much better for the environment than oil paints and they smell a lot less than oil paints. There are many paints that are touted as no VOCs paints. However, you must remember that this does not mean that the paint will have no smell at all. And if you use a custom made color unless the pigments are also no VOCs (which they usually are not) the paint will contain VOCs after they are mixed.
Not all water based are created equal
Simply put, the more acrylic in an water based paint, the better the paint.
No VOCs Paints
No VOCs paints are paints that do not have VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds). There are many advantages to these paints. Many individuals have reactions to the VOCs found in paints. And, they do not smell as much (they do still have a smell) as paints with VOCs. However, if you are using a paint without VOCs it is important to remember that if you use a custom made color (usually any color other than basic white) that the pigments used might have VOCs. Sherman Williams and Benjamin Moore are reportedly moving toward no VOCs pigments. If you truly want a no VOCs paint, make sure that you ask the dealer where you buy the paint if they use no VOCs pigments.
The best of both worlds. Many paint companies are making paints, polyurethanes, and stains, that are alkyd modified. So far paint companies are only offering interior paints. These paints are durable, go on very smooth (do not show paint brush strokes), but can be cleaned with soap and water. You do have to rinse the brush, after cleaning, in mineral spirits or a paint brush cleaning solvent, to rinse out the alkyd resins.
Not all paints are created equal. Below are many, but not all of the quality paints that can be purchased on the North Shore area. You may noticed that I have not put a link for Behr paint. I am willing to work with Behr paint. However, I have found that although Behr is decent paint, it just does not compare to the paints listed below. Many of the problems that I, and other professional painters, have found with it, is that 1) it does not keep the new, fresh paint look very long, 2) not keeping a fresh look for long means that it might require a complete repaint if an area needs a touch up due to damage (this is often not the case with higher quality paints) 3) it does not go on as smoothly 4) its ceiling paint is not very good when compared to other paints at the same price point. My argument for using a more expensive paint would be that if you are going pay for a professional painter you should spend the extra money for a high quality paint and the price difference is almost nominal when you are only painting a room or two. This is especially true if you consider that you do not have to drive 20 miles to get some of the other paints.
California Paints is a local company. Go figure--one would think that it is made in California. However, it is made in Andover, MA. It produces high quality paints for fairly reasonable prices.
California Paint can be bought locally at the Building Center in Gloucester and Essex. I can also be purchased at Tedford's in Ipwich, which is near the Ipswich Brewery.
Benjamin Moore offers a wide variety of products, and colors.
Locally, you Benjamin Moore can be purchased at Ben's Wallpaper and Paint in Gloucester, True Value in Beverly, and Waters & Brown in Beverly and Salem.
I had not used Pittsburgh Paint for years, but recently used some of its Manor Hall gloss paint on interior trim. I was very impressed. I looked great, and was as hard as a rock in no time. Something to think about if you are painting a high traffic area, or have little children that might (unintentionally) abuse your woodwork. The Building Centers in Gloucester and Essex recently stopped selling Pittsburgh paint. However, if you are a fan of it, I am sure you can find it on the North Shore.
C2 paints uses 16 pigments, instead of the standard 12 pigments, when mixing custom colors. They claim that this creates richer and more vibrant colors. And, according to its website, it is the only company that uses real paint on its paint samples, which gives the consumer a better feel of what the room will look like once it is painted.
C2 paint can be purchased at Waters and Brown in Beverly and Salem.
I have not used Sherwin Williams paint a lot. This is due primarily to the closest store being twenty-five minutes out of the way. That being said, professional painters love Sherwin Williams paint.
Sherwin Williams paint can be purchased at Sherwin William stores. The closest one to Gloucester is in Danvers behind Dunkin Donuts outside of the Liberty Tree Mall.