How to Choose the Right Paint for the Job

Choosing the Right Paint

How to Choose the Right Paint for the Job Before you buy fresh paint, make sure that it blends in with your colour scheme by holding the colour chart against your drapes or carpeting samples. If at all possible, take a small sample tin of the paint home and try it out on a wall. Fresh paint tends to appear darker once it is applied to a wall so, if you are in any doubt at all regarding which tone of a color to buy, pick the paler one. The colour of paint can vary from batch to batch so when you buy your paint ensure that all the tins have the identical batch number on them.

There’s two main kinds of paint. Traditional paints are liquid in consistency. They are sometimes referred to as oil based (gloss) for wood as well as for metalwork, and water based or emulsion paints for walls as well as ceilings. It is essential to use an undercoat when applying oil based paint. Emulsion paints don’t actually need an undercoat but several coats may be needed to cover the colour that you are trying to hide. The first coat of emulsion paint will work as an undercoat.

The second kind of paint (specially formulated for beginners) is no drip paint, which is also called thixotropic or ‘one coat’ paint. The paint looks like jelly in the container and turns to liquid when it is applied to a surface. Then it solidifies again, making it less prone to drips and runs. Non drip paint has good covering abilities, since it is thicker compared to conventional paints and an undercoat is incorporated within the mix. For this reason, non drip paint is no more expensive than other paints in the long run, though it often is more expensive per litre. These such no drip emulsion paints come in both jelly as well as solid forms. The use of a roller with the solid paint, which is sold in a tray holder, liquefies the fresh paint so that the roller picks up just enough paint per application, and the ‘no drip’ quality of this paint makes it perfect for painting ceilings. Never stir ‘no drip’ paint before using it however, even if it looks uneven and lumpy in the container – if the paint turns to liquid because it has been inadvertently stirred or shaken, leave it to set again before continuing to use it.

The ultimate coat of paint (known as the topcoat) can have a gloss, semi gloss or matt finish. Alternative names for partially glossy paint includes egg shell, silk, satin as well as sheen, depending on the paint producer. The glossier the paint, the tougher and more durable the surface will be, and it is a well-known fact that paints are also usually stronger and more weather proof if they include a synthetic polyurethane resin.

Some paints include chemicals to make them more fire resistant compared to ordinary paint. They help to lessen the spread of flames, which makes them suitable for painting wood, expanded polystyrene tiles, and any combustible or flammable surface.

How to Choose a Paint for a Particular Purpose

Always adhere to the manufacturer’s advice on the paint tin. This usually states which surfaces can be covered with the paint, the drying time and the expected covering ability.

Type of Paint

Where it can be used

Description of paint

Tips and Advice


Interior and exterior primed surfaces, before applying topcoat. Dark surfaces which are to be painted a paler colour.

A full-bodied paint with more pigment than topcoat. Has good covering power.

Apply a second coat if the undercolour shows through the first Always clean your brushes with white spirit after applying the undercoat.

Oil-based, or synthetic, gloss paint (topcoat)

Interior and exterior woodwork and metalwork. Can also be applied to walls and ceilings, if desired.

For both decorative and protective purposes. A relatively thin coating with little covering power.

On wood, always use with an undercoat. This is not necessary on metal. Apply two thin coats of gloss, rather than one thick one. Always clean your brushes immediately with white spirit.

Non-drip (thixotropic), jelly or one-coat paint

Gloss for interior and exterior woodwork, and emulsion for ceilings.

Combines undercoat and topcoat. Stays on the brush well. Easy for beginners to use.

Two coats may be needed when covering a dark colour. always clean painting tools with white spirit.

Interior emulsion paint

Walls and ceilings.

Water-based, which makes tools easy to clean. Dries quickly and does not leave brushmarks. Acrylic resins are sometimes added to make to paint more hard-wearing.

Does not need an undercoat. Can be diluted with water to form its own primer. Use a roller for fast coverage. Two or three coats may be needed. Always clean tools with water and soap or detergent.

Exterior emulsion paint

Outside walls

Water-based paint but extremely hard-wearing. Keeps the surface looking clean for longer because part of the coating washes away with rain, taking dirt with it.

Fill any fine cracks before painting. Apply with a brush at least 5in (125mm) wide, or a shaggy roller. Always clean tools with soap and water.

Microporous (acrylic) paint

Exterior, new, untreated timber. Can also be applied to most interior surfaces.

A water-based paint. Some types are one-coat, combining primer, undercoat and topcoat. Others are two coat primer in the first and undercoat and topcoat in the second. Allows surface to breathe. Keeps out clamp. Reduces blistering and flaking.

Drying time is much faster than with oil-based paint, so microporous is useful for a quick re-paint. Gloss microporous is not as shiny as oil-based glosses. Always clean tools with water and detergent, as for emulsion paints.

Masonry paint

All types of exterior rendering.

Most are strengthened with materials like silica, nylon or sand, which help to form a more durable finish.

Stabilise the surface with stabilising solution and use fungicide as necessary, before applying paint. Always clean tools with water.

Bituminous paint

Exterior metal pipes and guttering, and over concrete.

A special paint for waterproofing surfaces.

Other paints will not take over it, so once you have applied it to a surface, continue to use bituminous paint. Always clean brushes with paraffin, but even when clean keep only for bituminous paint.

Textured (plastic) coating

Interior walls and ceilings with uneven or unattractive surfaces.

A compound much thicker than paint, it forms a permanent coating which is extremely difficult to remove.

Apply with a shaggy roller, unless the manufacturer specifies otherwise. Coat with emulsion once dry. Will not take a wall covering. Always clean tools with white spirit.

Anti-condensation Paint

Surfaces in bathrooms, kitchens and any room likely to have a steamy atmosphere.

Semi-porous emulsion which absorbs moisture in the air and allows it to evaporate as the air dries. Prevents droplets brushes the surface. Often contains a fungicide to deter mould.

Apply as interior emulsion. Will not cure condensation, only reduce its effect on the painted surface. Always clean tools with water and detergent.

Enamel paint

Metal and wood. Children’s toys and furniture.

Non-toxic. Contains very finely ground pigment. May be available with a rust inhibitor.

No primer or undercoat is needed. Enamels are best for small jobs. Always clean brushes with white spirit.

There are other special paints available for specific purposes, including: floor paint for both interior and exterior use, doorstep paint, matt black (for metalwork or decorative timber and blackboards), radiator enamel (which retains its whiteness under heat), garage floor paint, anti-damp paint, tile red paint (for window ledges and exterior tiles), and insulation paint (to reduce heat loss).

08. December 2010 by admin
Categories: Decorating, Painting | Tags: | Comments Off on How to Choose the Right Paint for the Job


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