Which paint do I use – Emulsion, Undercoat, Gloss, Silk, What?

For some reason, types of paint are quite confusing. When we go to give quotes on jobs, it’s a topic that often needs explaining or clarifying. It’s simple really.

On interiors, it breaks down to this;

Paint for ceilings and walls:

-This is called emulsion.
-It is water based (so you can wash your brushes in the sink)
-It dries pretty quickly (within an hour)
-It is low odour

There are 3 main types of emulsion.
1. Matt – meaning it’s not shiny. Good for using everywhere.
2. Silk – It is shiny. Ideal if you like shiny things. Good for cleaning/wiping down if you tend to be messy.
3. Soft sheen/Satin – it’s in the middle, shiny wise. Best for kitchens and bathrooms.


Paint for woodwork (doors, architrave, skirting, dado and picture rails):

Note: If you are painting bare wood it will need three coats. The first being a primer coat, which is often water based and similar to matt emulsion.

– oil based (clean your brushes in white spirit if you have to)
– high odour
– takes longer to dry (over 4 hours)

Note: You can buy water based paints for woodwork (if you want to avoid the odour particularly) but the quality and toughness are compromised.

This breaks down into two parts

1. Undercoat This is applied first as the name suggests. It allows the topcoat to bond. If you don’t use undercoat, the topcoat will peel off in no time at all – especially on window sills or places where it is vulnerable to being bashed or sunlight.
2. Topcoat – you have a choice of either
a. Gloss Very shiny. This is the most popular choice of topcoat
b. Satin/Eggshell About half as shiny as gloss. Gaining in popularity.

Note: You can buy topcoats that are called One Coat Gloss/Satin. Invented because painting woodwork can be time consuming and unpleasant. I suggest using this paint on woodwork that is already in good condition (and has previously been painted) and simply needs freshening up. One coat Satin/Gloss paints have come a long way, and though you may pay slightly more for them per tin, the saving time-wise can be days (on big areas) and therefore potentially hundreds of pounds (if you are getting somone in). Not to be used on bare wood.

%d bloggers like this:
search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close