Paint buying guide

Paint buying guide

What room are you painting? Before you choose your paint, you’ll want to think about the size of the room and what you use it for. This is important because the colour of a room can have a big effect on how it feels. For example, a lighter colour will make a small room seem more spacious, while a darker colour will make a large room feel more homely.

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Which type of paint is right for you?


Matt paint is best suited to ceilings and the trimmings of a room. It’s great at covering up cracks, bumps and any other imperfections you may find on your walls. However, it’s quite hard to clean so is best used in quieter areas of the house.


Eggshell paint is so called because it has the low sheen of an eggshell. This makes it perfect for a low gloss finish in a living room or bedroom.


Satin is the all-rounder of the paint world. It has a great smooth, silky finish, while its higher gloss makes it durable and easier to clean. It has faster re-coat times. It’s perfect for the busier parts of your home, such as kitchens and kid’s bedrooms.


This adds a lovely understated shine to a surface. It’s easy to clean and resistant to humidity and stains, making it great for covering doors, trimmings and cabinets in kitchens and bathrooms.


This type of paint provides a shiny finish that looks similar to enamel or plastic. It’s often used on woodwork, cabinets, trimmings and furniture as it gives them a clean, contemporary look.

How should you prepare the surface?

Preparation is important when you’re painting something. Primers and undercoats provide a base for the topcoat of paint, which improves its finish and durability when it has dried. Primers are generally better when painting new surfaces or materials that are susceptible to harsh conditions, while undercoats are often used for old surfaces that have been painted before.

What colour should you use?

You should have an idea of what personality you want the room to have. Do you want it to be bright and welcoming, or would you prefer something with a cosier feel? Remember to always try the colour first by testing a sample in a small area of the room, as this will give you a good idea of whether it’s the right colour for you, and show you how it works with the lighting of the room. You can purchase testers in store. 

Enamel or acrylic?

Gloss and semi-gloss paints are usually enamel based, while the paints with a lower sheen are generally acrylic based. Enamel paints are considered to be more hard-wearing but they take longer to dry, are difficult to clean up and have quite a strong smell, so you’ll need to keep your room well ventilated while painting. Water based acrylic paint dries in just a few hours and doesn’t have a strong odour.

Top tip

Surface preparation is particularly important when using gloss paint, as it will emphasise any imperfections that are present.

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