What is the difference between paint and enamel?

What’s the difference between paint and enamel? I’ve been doing some artwork lately with spray paint (it’s not graffiti, I swear!), but when I go to the hardware store to buy paint, I see that there’s paint and enamel. Of course, I don’t see anything on the labelling telling me which one I should be using for my needs. What’s the difference? And do I need primer for them? I’m painting on wood.

Usually, enamel just refers to paint that has a hard, glossy finish. Originally, enamel was a glass-like material that was baked onto an item.

Primer will help you get a nice smooth finish in the gloss level you were expecting. Spray paint on bare wood tends to come out patchy in both color and gloss unless you re-coat a few times. By this time, you could have primed and been done with just one or two color coats.