What Is Stain-Resistant Paint and Why Do You Need It?

Picture this: Your kid (or niece or nephew) just drew a beautiful crayon mural … all over their bedroom wall. Or your partner, after working in the yard, smudged the entire hallway with mud on the way to the shower. With regular paint, good luck keeping that from staining. But with stain-resistant paint, you can wipe away stains and keep the walls looking clean.

What Causes Paint to Stain?

In painting language, stain-resistance is the paint’s ability to withstand discoloration. In other words, it’s a paint that doesn’t absorb dirt and stains.

There are several reasons a paint might stain:

  • The wall is painted in a low-sheen paint, like matte or flat.
  • The paint is on a porous surface, like wood.
  • The paint was applied without a primer.

What Are Some Common Things That Cause Stains?

In addition to crayons and dirt, common materials that result in stains include:

  • Lipstick
  • Spaghetti sauce
  • Oil or grease
  • Magic markers, pens, or pencils

On unprimed, painted drywall, these substances will go on, but they’ll be hard to get off – and even if they do come off, they’ll probably leave a mark.

Not All Paint Is Created Equal

The easiest way to stop stains is to prevent them. How? By starting any paint job with a primer.

Whether you prime first and then paint or use a paint with a built-in primer, this added layer causes paint to adhere better to the wall, door, or cabinet you’re painting.

It also creates a less porous finish, which blocks stains from getting into the paint.

The other factor at play here is sheen, or how much paint reflects light. The higher the sheen, the more durable the paint. Higher sheens like eggshell, semi-gloss, and high gloss, resist stains, and are easier to clean than matte or flat paints. While you probably don’t want high gloss on your walls (it reflects the maximum amount of light and will show every imperfection), using it on trim, cabinets, and wood will offer the highest protection.

Choosing the Right Stain-Resistant Paint for You

Choosing the right stain-resistant paint depends on whether you’re covering existing stains or not. If you’re covering existing stains, look for a high-performance primer that’s made to hide previous paint colors, block stains, seal porous surfaces and promote adhesion. Use one coat of primer and two coats of paint for maximum durability.

PPG’s product, PPG Ultralast, offers an exceptional washable experience. Learn more about PPG Ultralast here!

If you don’t have stains and just want a fresh wall color, you can choose a paint with a built-in primer or one geared toward stain resistance. These will keep your walls looking clean and help you keep a freshly painted look – through all of life’s little (and big) messes.

Learn more about our house painting services and how we can transform your home with a new coat of paint.


Kelley Rebori

Kelley Rebori has written for national brands like Paintzen, HGTV, the DIY Network and Trulia for more than a decade. She loves home renovation projects, chocolate icing and small poodles. She and her husband split the year between their homes in Tennessee and Italy.