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What’s the Difference? Paint Unwrapped

What’s the Difference? Paint Unwrapped

So, you are biting the bullet and finally getting the painting done. First stop: colours, then it’s onto paint. Simple, right? As you stand in the paint section of your local DIY shop, with dozens of tins dancing before your eyes, what started out as a simple job may turn into a baffling nightmare. Gone are the days when there were two types of paint: gloss and emulsion. We take a look at the main types of paint, and what you should use them for.


Let’s start with the easy one: gloss. Most of us know that you use gloss on the trimmings: dado rails, picture rails, skirting boards and doors. Gloss is usually oil-based, which means that it is hard wearing and easy to wipe clean (but a nightmare to get out of clothes, furniture and carpets).

Liquid gloss is very hard wearing and resistant to dirt - perfect for kickboards and areas that will take a bit of a beating. It will give you a high gloss finish, but you do need to use an undercoat first.

Polyurethane gloss is oil-based and has polyurethane added to it, making it ideal for areas that will get a lot of wear.

Silthane has a high shine and is made out of polyurethane and silicone, making it more durable than liquid gloss, particularly whilst drying.

Satinwood is a less glossy gloss, which gives a subtle shine, rather than the super-shiny finish of liquid gloss. However, satinwood is less durable and harder to wipe clean.

Eggshell has even less shine than satinwood. It’s not completely matt, so does offer some protection, but it is best used on areas that will endure less wear and tear, such as picture rails.

Thixotropic gloss – or non-drip gloss provides a miraculous solution to the dreaded gloss drip! It is thicker than conventional gloss and, if applied correctly, is easier to use. The consistency means you don’t get drips, which can be the bane of a diy-er’s life.


Emulsions are water-based paints; they are used to paint walls and ceilings, they are thinner than gloss, and less hard-wearing.

Vinyl matt – gives a completely matt finish that is great for slightly bumpy walls and ceilings. However, vinyl matt isn’t as durable as other paints, and can’t be easily rubbed down.

Vinyl satin – has a very subtle sheen and lasts longer than matt. Small marks and stains can be removed by wiping gently with a damp cloth.

Vinyl silk – has the highest sheen of all the emulsions. It is good for bathrooms and kitchens, as moisture sits on the surface of the paint, instead of soaking in and damaging the paintwork. It is also easy to wipe clean, but as it reflects the light, it can highlight imperfections in a wall’s surface.

Are you baffled by paint and running out of time to give your home or office a boost? Contact a reliable local painter and decorator to get the job done for you.

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