My intention with this article is to shed some light on the different types of paints on the market. With this I’m not talking about brands. There are two components you need to decide on when painting your house. The most obvious one is the colour and the second one is the paint finish.
What’s the difference? In a paint store you select your bucket of paint, which is the type of paint also called paint finish you want on your walls and then the professional in the paint store mixes in the pigments of the colour you chose.
Acrylic Paint for Interior Walls
Acrylic paint is a water-based paint and used for interior walls. It does come in a variety of sheen levels, which I explain in the following. Learn pro’s and con’s of each sheen level and effects it can have on a room from a decorating perspective.
Sheen level – Matt
As the name suggests it is a matt finish for your walls. If you are a DIY enthusiast and love to have a crack at painting yourself, consider this finish. When dry you won’t see any paint brush or roller streaks.
However the downside is that it marks very easily. On the flipside again you can do spot touch ups because when dry it blends with the rest. If you are a family with small kids you probably want to stay away from this finish, because of it marking quite easily. Brands have improved the formula though but still it does not give you the protection as other finishes do.
A matt finish absorbs light and it will hide imperfect walls perfectly. This is great for older period homes if your internal walls are not made of Gyprock. Stonewalls can be uneven and a reflective surface would show those imperfections.
Sheen level – Low Sheen
This finish is one step up of the matt finish. It is the most preferred and common one to use in residential homes. It has a little bit of sheen to it which makes it a better choice to clean. If your house needs paint you probably want a professional to do that task for you. Due to the introduced sheen you will see brush strokes and roller strokes much easier when the paint has dried. It is one of those things, that a bad paint job can actually ruin the appearance of your home. Spending the extra dollars is it absolutely worth.
Sheen-level – Semi-gloss
This finish is a little glossier than low-sheen. Semi-gloss is usually used for the woodwork in your home, e.g. skirting boards and architraves. This is a finish to consider if your rooms are small. This gloss level helps to reflect the light back into the room which creates a sense of space. With each increased sheen level the cleaning properties improve as well. Due to this reason it is also a great finish to use in commercial settings.
Sheen-level – Gloss
Gloss is mainly used on interior woodwork, such as skirtings and architraves. You can off set your woodwork with gloss if your walls are painted in semi-gloss or low-sheen to create that difference between those surfaces.
Yes, you can use gloss on walls as well, however I would not recommend it due to its gloss level.
Having said that, it can be a great combination though if you are wanting to enhance a particular colour and/ or architectural feature. This is how I can see it work – apart from that I would stay clear of it on walls.
What about oil-based/ enamel paint – advise based on personal experience
In terms of painting your internal woodwork I have one significant tip for you.
You just installed new woodwork then I highly recommend to paint all skirtings and architraves with an acrylic paint.
This paint is so much easier to spread with your brush and it’s easy to clean up after you finished your job. Wash the paint out of your brush with water. No need for methylated spirits as you would use for oil-based paint to clean up. There is no need to use oil-based paint for wood inside as you do not need to protect it from the elements. Also oil-based paint has a tendency to yellow.
However, if you paint existing woodwork you need to check if your timber was previously painted with acrylic or enamel/ oil-based paint. This is vital if you want your project to be successful. Why?
You can not go over an oil-based paint with acrylic-paint. The oil based layer makes your acrylic paint not stick. Then the answer is to keep painting with oil-based paint. The downside is that oil-paint is quite sticky – a terrible idea to paint in summer as the hot weather makes the paint dry on your brush much quicker. This in return leaves paint brush marks and creates paint clumps on your paint brush. These are the experiences of a paint amateur – lol.
Equipped with some insider knowledge makes it easier for you to decide what finish to buy when you encounter the paint store.
Still unsure of what to choose? I also cover paint finishes during my colour consultations. I guide you through the process which makes it so much easier for you to make that final decision.