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Choosing the Right Paint for Purpose

By: Alan Cole - Updated: 6 May 2017 | comments*Discuss
Choosing Paint Interior Paint Exterior

A bewildering number of varieties of household paints are available these days from an ever increasing number of brands. To make things easy for you on this page, we list the common types of paints and their popular uses. Remember, taking the time to select the best type of paint for any specific painting job is well worth the trouble, because it will help you achieve the best possible results.


Primer is the important first coat for any paint job. Primer paints are specially formulated to help the top and undercoats stick evenly to the surface. Primers can be oil or water based but always select one specially formulated for the surface in question - wood, metal, plaster, etc. The primer and undercoat should also provide the correct colour base for the final coat. For professional results always use a primer and undercoat and then a final coat, normally a gloss coat, which is hard wearing.

Gloss vs. Matt

Gloss is a shiny finish paint. The glossier the paint the more hard wearing it is. Matt is the dull or non glossy stuff. Paint manufactures categorise their paints from gloss to matt.

paint1 Check with the paint manufacturers guides to see exactly what level of gloss or matt each paint is. This information is usually on the tin. Remember no matter what the name - gloss paints are usually oil or resin based which create a good hard wearing finish. Gloss is not only suitable for final coats but anything that needs protecting around the home such as doors and window frames. It also looks great when used sparingly.

20px break Silk or satin or ultra gloss are examples of the types of names used to indicate the level of gloss or matt finish. Satinwood is an example of a common hard wearing gloss finish but one which is less shiny than the typical gloss effect. Eggshell usually means a paint which is a stage up from a pure matt. It is often used for skirting boards.

Gloss paints, unfortunately, show imperfections in the surface more than matt paints.

Conversely, matt paint are a good idea for surfaces that are damaged and difficult to fix because matt hides imperfections and coats more evenly.

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Non Drip

Non drip is an alternative to ordinary gloss. It is a thicker consistency and is easier to apply. A lump sticks to the paint brush and can be applied evenly without it dripping on to the existing paint work.

Emulsion Paints

paint4 Modern emulsions are water-based but often have vinyl or acrylic resins added to make them harder wearing than traditional water based emulsions. This results in a choice of matt or silk finishes. As the level of gloss ‘shine’ increases, the paint tends to be more hard wearing. Emulsions are good paints for internal walls and ceilings and are easy to apply but are less hard wearing than oil or gloss paints.

20px breakOther benefits are they smell less and dry quicker. Emulsions are also good for rooms such as kitchens and bathrooms as they absorb moisture.

Special Paints

 paint2There are many other types of paint available for specific paint jobs around the home. As well as anti-condensation paints for bathrooms and kitchens you will find heat resistant radiator paints and even special fire-resistant paints on sale. Eco paints are also available which use organic compounds. As well as being more environmentally friendly by giving off less toxic fumes they are safer around the home. Eco paints are ideal if there are small children around.

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Other Surfaces

paint5 While most household paints will be applied to plaster surfaces on walls and ceiling, which take the paint very easily, painting is often required on different surfaces. Wood and metal needs to be painted more carefully than plaster. Always find a paint which is recommended especially for these types of surfaces. Wood needs to be prepared in advance with sanding and filling if necessary. Also avoid painting on flaky metal surfaces. Rub down any rusty surfaces with a wire wool to ensure they will take a smooth coat.

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Exterior Paint

A regular coat of paint will brighten up the exterior of your home just as much as the interior and will also prevent damage from changing weather conditions. Always look for paints which promise anti chalking qualities and blister resistance; and are suitable for stone, rendering or whatever the required surface might be.

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Please can you help l have stone skirting in my cellar what would be the best paint to use
Jeanie liz - 6-May-17 @ 2:09 PM
I have got stone skirting in my cellar what is the best paint to use
Jeannie liz - 6-May-17 @ 2:05 PM
I need an internal gloss paint for doors which are regularly knocked by a wheelchair and mobility scooter what would you recommend?
stottie - 30-Apr-17 @ 1:49 PM
What gloss paint would you recommend for internal doors which are knocked and bumped fairly regularly with wheelchair and scooter?
stottie - 30-Apr-17 @ 1:46 PM
I need a paint for internal doors that can withstand knocks and bumps, what would you recommend?
stottie - 30-Apr-17 @ 1:44 PM
@flames - you would have to sand the gloss down otherwise the masonary paint will not attach. Sanding removes the glossiness from the walls and ensures good adhesion for the new paint.
Rob76 - 5-Sep-16 @ 1:00 PM
whats the best way to paint black matt masonry paint over gloss
flames - 4-Sep-16 @ 8:10 PM
I have to have my wood windows and front door repainted in the same colour, white.can you tell me what the best way to go about this is.
Diy novice - 3-Jun-16 @ 6:37 PM
@tilly - the perfect time for exterior painting is in the summer when the temperature is warm and in practical terms the days are long.Although, even the UK summer months can be beset by rain and moisture, so when you do decide to paint then make sure you get a good five day weather forecast that has no damp conditions. Many paint products will also give recommended drying times and additional information which will help you to get the best from your job.
DIYBasics - 10-Nov-14 @ 10:25 AM
when is the best time to do exterior painting ?
tilly - 7-Nov-14 @ 4:40 PM
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