Now this might be an odd title for a post but bare with me. When I first started renovating houses I had absolutely no idea where to start. In the dim and distant past with no access to the internet I was a regular visitor to the small interior and DIY section at the local library. I mean obviously we can all wield a paint roller but what about choosing the right paint for the job. If you’re new to decorating it can be confusing and costly if you buy the wrong thing. So this post is aimed not at the seasoned DIYer. No, it’s here to help all those starting out with their first homes because what’s the point of having knowledge if you don’t share it.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT EMULSION PAINT FOR THE JOB
Firstly choose your paint colours, duh obviously! But then what type of paint do you need? Do you need water or oil based? What equipment do you need for the job and more importantly what order do you paint everything in? Firstly let talk about emulsion, the paint for the walls and ceiling. Beyond that there’s specialist emulsions too, in fact sometimes the choice is more confusing than it should be. Emulsion is available in Flat Matt, Matt, Mid Sheen and Silk, that’s before you get into more specialist paints.
My personal favourites are Flat Matt and Matt. Both of these as their names suggest don’t reflect the light. Matt and Flat Matt paints are great for walls with defects so work especially well in older properties. They also tend to give a more uniform colour around a room as they don’t bounce the light around. And they make dark colours look richer. Mid Sheen as the name suggests has a slight sheen to it and silk is shinier yet again. To be honest I never use either of these finishes, they tend to look plasticky and not as luxurious once dry. Likewise I don’t use kitchen or bathroom paint for the same reason unless absolutely necessary. Theses paints benefit from anti bacterial qualities which helps to reduce mould growth in high humidity areas.
You can also buy specialist ceiling paint which I don’t tend to use either. It adds to your paint bill and is basically just a thicker consistency so you get less splats. But as long as you’ve got old clothes and a hat on. And have laid down dust sheets it’s not that much more mess to make it worth spending the extra pennies. I also look for something scrubable too. After all what’s the point of going to all the effort of painting if on the first occasion you have a mark to wash off the paint comes away on your cloth too? My current favourite brands for both coverage and durability are Valspar, Dulux Diamond Finish (the trade finish) and Mylands.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT WOOD PAINT FOR THE JOB
Now if you thought there was a world of choice with emulsions just you wait until you get to the wood finishes! There’s oil or water based, matt, eggshell, satinwood and gloss. To top that off some have built in primers and some don’t! Firstly comes the dilemma of oil versus water based?? Oil takes longer to dry and requires white spirit to clean your brushes. Whereas water based dries quicker and your brushes rinse under the tap. Personally I prefer oil, though it often results in the dog sticking to it at some point! It’s harder wearing and doesn’t show the brush strokes quite so much. It’s also open for longer meaning you can take your time. Water based paints tend to be less smelly, dry faster and are easy to clean up after but they can cause the grain to expand on bare wood.
A word of warning on white wood paint here too! Due to changes in the law regarding ingredients, white wood paint yellows over time. Always go with oil based paint when you’re using a white shade. It will still yellow but not as quickly as it’s water based sibling! No one wants to have to redecorate every three months!
OK, so now we’ve made that choice it’s onto the next one. What finish to use! Basically eggshell has a small amount of sheen. Satinwood a little more. And gloss, well it does what it says on the tin, it’s glossy. The finish is down to personal choice, I use satinwood. A word of warning with gloss though! If like me you have a period property gloss will show up every imperfection in your woodwork. Likewise never, ever use gloss with dark colours. Again it will show up every imperfection and beyond that unless you are an accomplished painter it will show up every brush stroke too!
PRIMER VERSUS UNDERCOAT WHEN CHOOSING THE RIGHT PAINT FOR THE JOB
Finally, a word on Primers and Undercoats. The two words often get used interchangeably but in truth they are very different. If you are painting bare wood you should always use a primer first. As with newly plastered walls bare wood is thirsty and tends to soak up a lot of paint. Primer is designed exactly for this purpose. It helps to seal the surface and fills the wood grain too so that your top coat has the best chance of a smooth finish.
To undercoat or not to undercoat? That is the question! From me it’s a definite and resounding YES! Undercoat is just what it says on the tin. It’s designed to be used underneath your top coat. Not only does it give the top coat a more luxurious and smoother finish, it also bonds one layer of paint to another. There’s nothing worse that painting your skirting’s from white to another colour only to find when you knock into it with the hoover that it chips and shows through the white paint. That’s where undercoat comes in, try to match it as closely as possible to your top coat and enjoy chip free vacuuming!
So there you go, did you find my guide helpful? What’s your favourite finish? I’d love to hear your thoughts, please do leave me a comment. Have I helped with the minefield that is paint and choosing the right paint for the job? Oh, and by the way, if you’re thinking of painting your kitchen cupboards, I have a post about the best brand of paint to use too, written especially for you. Or this one if you’re contemplating moving over to the dark side of interiors and wondering should I paint your walls dark.