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Dulux shelter

Limewash wall plaque

How to select the correct paint for your job

Selecting the right colour for your decorating job is difficult enough but there is an amazing array of different paint companies with many different products and it can also be quite daunting to select the correct paint and finish. One of the first items to consider for interiors is how the space that you are painting will be utilised as this will help to determine the durability level of the paint. For exteriors you need to assess the local climatic conditions. Finally, you need to consider the style and mood that you are endeavouring to create, for example an ultra contemporary space will require a different paint finish to a heritage listed renovation project. There are a myriad of possibilities, however the following are some basic guidelines to follow:

Matt finish

This is generally the most desired finish for interior walls as a pure matt finish doesn't reflect any light and the colour appears to have greater depth. As there is no light reflection minor imperfections in the finish of the wall are disguised. However, pure matt acrylic paint is usually difficult to keep looking good as it is not washable and therefore is not recommended for high traffic areas. A matt finish is also not recommended in high moisture areas like bathrooms, laundries and kitchens.

The traditional paint companies manufacture some gorgeous matt finish paints. Murobond has Murowash which offers a finely grained, streak free flat finish with subtle colour variations. Porters Paints also has an ultra flat finish acrylic. Dulux, Taubmans, Bristol and Wattyl all have flat paints suitable for most interior and exterior substrates. Many of the exterior matt finishes are textured to different degrees which works well on concrete rendered finishes.

A matt finish is a necessity for the majority of ceilings and cornices to hide imperfections.

Low Sheen finish

Paint companies understand that many colours look better with a matt finish but are not always practical and therefore low sheen paints are marketed that are washable. Products vary between paint companies but many of these paints have as low as a 5% sheen level so they offer an almost matt finish that can be wiped down without fuss. These paints generally dry to a soft eggshell finish and in fact many paint companies market these as their eggshell range. Dulux, Taubmans, Bristol and Wattyl have very good low sheen/eggshell acrylic washable paints. Murobond and Porters also offer a pure acrylic finish in addition to their boutique finishes.

Many low sheen paints are also suitable for timberwork trim and internal doors and provide an elegant yet laid back finish.

Semi Gloss finish

A semi gloss finish offers high washability and an extremely scuff resistant finish and as the sheen level is higher it is also more light reflective than a regular low sheen paint which can be of benefit in a dark area. Dulux markets a semi gloss finish with anti-bacterial qualities for use in high moisture areas like bathrooms and laundries and in some cases for kitchens where there is little natural air flow. A semi gloss finish is appropriate for skirting boards, architraves and internal doors where more durability is required than a low sheen paint would offer but offers lower light reflective qualities than would be achieved with a high gloss finish. Semi gloss paints can also be used on exterior trim and many paint companies now offer a paint that can be used for both interior and exterior timber.

High Gloss finish

The most light reflective of all the paints, a high gloss finish offers superior durability and stability in extreme climatic conditions, making it particularly suitable for exterior trim. A high gloss finish can be quite effective in an interior as the same colour can be used on the walls as on the trim but will appear different due to the greater variance in sheen level.

Both semi gloss and high gloss paints can be either water based or for even more durability enamel based.

Natural paints

The natural anti-bacterial properties of lime have been appreciated for centuries and houses were literally lime washed each spring to get rid of mould and bugs. When lime is blended with natural pigments a soft weathered patina is created which is reminiscent of the beautiful soft finishes of buildings throughout the Mediterranean. The lime literally blooms through the paint colour and the amount of bloom will depend upon the climatic conditions when the limewash is applied. These paints are marketed by the traditional paint companies. Porters Paints has a limewash suitable for interiors and exteriors. Their exterior Lime Wash can be applied to cement render, bagged brickwork, concrete, masonry blocks, and most absorbent building surfaces.

Porters Interno Lime Wash can be applied to most suitably prepared plasterboard, masonry and previously painted surfaces. Lime wash paints are not recommended for use in kitchens, bathrooms or laundries.

Many paint companies now offer low Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) paints across their range, which have a low odour and less impact on air quality making these a good choice for childrens bedrooms and nurseries.

Specialty Finishes

Murobonds Pentimento is an updated lime wash which has a fabulous, rich, velvety finish and is great for softening the edges of ultra modern spaces whilst maintaining a contemporary look. Porters Internal Distemper is a soft chalky paint that also dries to a superior matt velvety finish and is perfect to use on heritage restoration projects.

As these paints are made using traditional methods, pigments are hand blended to achieve the right hue offering a unique depth of colour.

Porters Milk Paint is a traditional paint finish first used on country furniture by the Shakers in the 18th and 19th centuries. Natural binders and pigments are used to recreate a soft, perfectly matt, chalky finish which can be used on furniture, picture frames etc. This paint finish is not very durable.

Metallic finishes have been in vogue for a number of years now. These are particularly effective for feature walls or for painting furniture. Dulux has a wide range of colours in their metallic range. Porters metallic is marketed under Industrial Lustre and this is durable enough to be used on exteriors. For a softer more understated interior only finish their Duchess Satin paint can be used. Murobond offer an iron oxide paint called Bridge Paint and a softer Aqua Glaze and Pearl textured finish, both of which can be used inside and outside.

Paints have also been formulated by Porters to replicate silver, gold, copper, rust and a green patina which offers a worn antique finish.

It is particularly important with all special finish paints to understand the correct way to apply them. Many of these can only be applied with a certain type of brush and in a particular way so detailed instructions should be sought from the manufacturer before applying these finishes.

Substrate preparation

Finally, the most important consideration when applying paint is to prepare each surface correctly. Most substrates are suitable to be painted with any of the above products however there will always be some preparation to do first. Previously painted surfaces will need to be thoroughly clean and gloss surfaces will need to be sanded to ensure the paint adheres to the surface. Cement rendered surfaces need to cure for at least 4-6 weeks before applying paint. Metal surfaces can be painted but should be free of rust or be treated with a specially designed rust product. There are different priming and or sealing products for varying substrates and these are important to consider in the preparation stages. It is always advisable to seek technical assistance from each individual paint manufacturer to ensure that you are preparing each substrate correctly.

Painting cost calculator

Wondering what it will cost to paint your house? Why not try this painting cost calculator from Inspiration Paints?