According to DoItYourself.com, there are basically two classes of paint: oil-based and water-based. The other types of paint on stock at local DIY and home improvement stores are primers, sealers, enamels, acrylics and other specialty paints.
Primers and sealers are not considered paints per se. Instead, they provide bases on which to apply paint and coatings that provide clear finishes and protection to ensure paint durability. Enamel is a type of oil-based paint, so named because the term describes the hardness and durability of the paint. Enamels, which can have either a gloss or semi-gloss finish, are commonly used around windows, doors and trim.
Acrylic is a water-soluble, fast-drying paint. This type of paint becomes resistant to water once applied and dried. There are special paints that include additives which provide specific properties to the paint for particular use. Some of these add-on properties are anti-mold, anti-mildew, fire-retardant and anti-condensation, some of which are perfect for locations like the kitchen.
The proper selection of paint to use depends primarily on the surface it will be applied to and whether it is located on the exterior or interior of the house. Another important consideration is the environmental effect of the paint. Water-based paints have less volatile organic compounds than oil-based paints.