Choosing the Right Paint for PurposeA 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 break Other 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

 paint2 There 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.