A Brief guide to paint finishes and Trade vs. DIY paints

I have been asked several times this week about which paint to use for a particular job. I have also had several conversations recently as to why I won't generally use anything but Trade paint. In one instance a customer was complaining about how many coats they had used to paint a room white that was previously green (5 or 6 coats later they still think they can see the green). My first question was 'what paint did you use'. It turned out it was Dulux's retail paint (the stuff you find in Homebase and B&Q) and the customer had no idea there was more than one Dulux - and why would they? All the adverts on TV and the billboards show the logo for the retail paint.

I have blogged before about the difference between trade paint and DIY paint - and not just the likes of B&Q own brand, but also brands like Dulux & Crown. Most people don't seem to realise there are 2 main paints made by these companies and its more of a difference than just a logo. One main difference is the pigment used and this is one of the things that give you good coverage and thus requires less coats of paint.

The other thing to mention is that in trade paint there is no 'Kitchen & Bathroom' paint. Most of these names are made up for the DIY market and aren't necessary. I'd also stay clear of any 'one coat' or 'once' paint - They rarely are one coat (at least if you want a good finish) and I certainly don't recommend skipping an undercoat when glossing. If you really want to use just one coat and the woodwork is in OK condition try using a satin finish, as this is self undercoating.

I have also complained to Dulux select who guarantee my work if done with their products, but won't guarantee their 'retail' paint. I suggested then that it was because it was sub standard, which they denied. They said it was just that the retail paint was formulated for amateur to use, whereas tradespeople know the best products for the job (and that trade paint sometimes requires easing/thinning down to your requirements before use, depending on the job).

So what follows is a brief guide to the main paint finishes and where and why to use them, in all cases these are trade paints. I have also been asked if more expensive paints are worth it (trade is more expensive). The answer is simply yes. Would you rather apply 2 coats of trade paint or 5 - 6 coats of DIY paint? I'm sure you have better things to be doing than painting the same walls over and over.!

  • Vinyl matt - a general use finish. One of the cheaper options, good for ceilings and walls
  • Diamond matt (Dulux) & clean extreme matt (Crown) - a highly durable, wipeable finish. Good for high traffic areas like hallways and Childrens rooms or Kitchens. Slightly shinier than a vinyl matt.
  • Diamond Eggshell (Dulux) & clean extreme eggshell (Crown) - a highly durable, wipeable finish with moisture resistance. Good for ceilings and walls in areas prone to moisture, like Bathrooms. This has a sheen to it
  • Satin/eggshell/gloss - All woodwork areas. Oil based versions tend to go yellow, smell and take ages to dry. Water based will not yellow and dries quickly. More care is needed when applying water based paint onto old paintwork, as adhesion can be an issue, depending on the paint used. Zinsser Perma-white is one example of a paint that can go over old gloss, however it does take 7-10 days to fully adhere - before this it can easily be scratched off. If in doubt priming woodwork with Zinsser coverstain before top coating can help - this primer is oil based but doesn't react to waterbased top coats and dries in an hr! (though it smells pretty strong). We currently use a brand called Bedec aqua advanced on most jobs and this adheres well to old paint work, it just requires a few days to fully cure and adhere.