Types of Paint and Paint Finishes
There are many different types of paint available today, designed to meet all the requirements of the home decorator. From paints that cover in one coat to paints that create specialist effects.
Types of paint
Most paints fall into the following categories:
Water-based – dries quickly and without a strong solvent smell. Water-based paints include emulsion, distemper and water-based gloss.
Oil-based – slower drying but provides a harder finish. Oil-based paints include eggshell, gloss and enamel.
Aerosol spray – mostly for metal (such as radiators) or large stencil designs. Aerosol sprays can be matt or metallic.
Organic – free of solvents or other harmful chemicals, organic paints are biodegradable and allow walls to breathe.
The label on the paint can will tell you whether the paint is water- or oil- (solvent-) based. Here is where you will also find information on its recommended uses and, most importantly, covering power. Remember that you cannot use a water-based paint over an oil-based one.
Mid-sheen finishes – mid-sheen emulsions are spongeable. Mid-sheen oil-based paints, also labelled ‘satinwood’ or ‘satin sheen’, have a less ‘hard’ look than gloss.
Gloss finishes are generally used for a tough, washable surface on wood and metal, but you can also buy metallic emulsion for walls and ceilings. The light-reflective quality will magnify any surface faults.
Eggshell finishes are often used for woodwork and by specialist decorative paint finishers, as a base for a painted technique combining glazes. The eggshell finish has a subtle sheen, like an egg, and although it is not as tough as a gloss finish, can be washed to remove sticky finger marks.
Metallic finishes can be used on wood and radiators. There are also special paints formulated to use on domestic appliances such as refrigerators, to give them a new lease of life. Some metallic emulsion paints can be used on walls and ceilings.
Polished finishes are currently in vogue and have a smooth, lustrous look, without being too shiny. The application of polished plaster is a job for the expert.
Textured finishes can be used on walls and ceilings, especially if the original surface is poor. Some paints come with ‘additives’ and can be painted on with a brush or roller to create a ‘rough cast’ effect. Others may be textured with special tools. Most textured finishes are very difficult to remove, so if you want to be able to change the décor frequently, it might be wiser to hang a textured wallcovering and paint over it with emulsion paint — it can then be removed, using a steam-stripper, if necessary.
To calculate how much paint you will need, just measure the walls — height and length — and multiply to give you the area to be covered. There is no need to deduct areas of windows or doors. Paint-can labels will suggest an average coverage, but highly textured or very porous walls may be very ‘thirsty’, so double the quantity. You will need more paint to cover a dark colour than if you are painting a light surface with a similar or darker colour.
Always buy sufficient paint and ensure it comes from the same mixing — you can do this by checking the batch number on the can. Colour can vary subtly but noticeably between batches.