Best oil-based gloss paint for exterior woodwork on period property
Increasingly, decorating specialists who repair and paint exterior woodwork on period property (sash windows and front doors etc) use premium acrylic paint and hybrid paint. However, oil-based gloss paint still has its place, where you want to achieve a superior shiny gloss-painted front door, aka the Number 10 look,
you are a traditionalist, and simply prefer the aesthetic and the performance of high gloss oil paint on your windows and doors, please!
However, not all oil-based gloss paint nowadays is created equal, and with a few notable exceptions listed below, much of the standard trade oil-based high gloss paint and accompanying oil-based undercoat is proving problematic. Basically, since the 2010 VOC regulations were imposed, most trade oil paint is taking longer to dry, which affects how you work in two ways:
you have to wait longer between coats to sand, because the oil undercoat may be too tacky within normal / accepted as normal timescales.
you might have problems closing doors and windows at night, if you don’t get the oil paint on before lunchtime.
Best approach to high quality finishes with oil-based gloss & undercoat
To deliver high quality oil-based gloss finishes in a timely fashion, you have to think a bit beyond going to the store and asking for your perennial favourite brand gloss and undercoat. The following approaches should keep you on track, however, on your quest for oil-based perfection.
1- To paint sash windows on period property in Nottingham, specialist painter Russ Pike uses oil-based Zinseer Cover Stain as the primer/undercoat, followed by oil-based Sikkens AZ gloss. He explains towards the end of the article how to achieve an enamel-like finish, and use slow-drying gloss to your advantage.
2 – To paint exterior doors to a Number 10 quality finish to gloss a front door, I would also use Sikkens AZ gloss as the finish, but since the 2010 changes have tended to use Sikkens Rubbol BL Primer, a water based primer/undercoat which dries fast and flat.
And to achieve the harder and exaggerated shiny finish for the Number 10 look, you need more than just undercoat and gloss paint, and that is where a full skim or two of an oil-based fine surface filler and surfacer like Gras a Laquer comes into its own. Not dissimilar to Swedish Putty or Kodrin Spachtel it is the secret… As Patrick Baty pointed out, the Dutch have been using this technique for years, as witnessed by the superb doors in Amsterdam.
3 – Painting exterior woodwork on period property with designer oil-based undercoat and oil-based gloss. Using designer “posh” paint from companies like Little Greene and Paint Library is like a calm step back in time, when all was well with the world of oil paint. They look great and behave as expected ie they apply and dry. From undercoating, through to top coats, in normal conditions, the undercoat can be thoroughly sanded next day, and a topcoat, if applied in the morning, should tack off nicely by closing time the same day.
Those 3 options work reliably, in an unreliable paint world to give you a top quality finish! So in summary:
If you use standard trade oil-based gloss and undercoat on exterior woodwork, and want to maintain high trade standards, especially where filling and sanding between coats is concerned, you will probably need to allow longer between coats than ever before.
use quick drying basecoats and finish oil glossing before lunch time / leave doors etc ajar till very late.
Use a high performance quick-drying basecoat plus Sikkens AZ oil-based gloss on exterior woodwork
What Nottingham based Russ Pike, period property specialist has to say about the drying time of AZ gloss in various situations,
As with all oil based finishes nowadays, we have to adapt our working practices to suit the product being applied. For me, the pro’s of using this product far way out the con’s. The ‘Coverstain’ being oil-based dries in 2 hours to a super flat finish, and as its a primer/sealer, it will resist knots and resin bleed, making for the perfect base for the Sikkens AZ Gloss. Although I use a lot of water-based products, I’m still of the ‘Old Skool’ way of thinking when it comes to exterior work and that is; Oil for outside and water for inside!
What I tend to do when using the AZ Gloss on sash windows, is make sure any glossing up is done before lunch time, therefore the product gets a chance to tack up before hometime. As I tend to remove the sashes completely from the frames when painting them, I can move them around to follow the sunshine (when we get any) or leave them next to a heat source such as a radiator.
Because I double gloss the sashes and frames, I use the tacky (not quite hardened off) finish to my advantage and apply a second gloss the following day. As the first coat is still soft underneath, my second coat gains maximum adhesion. Once I re-fit the frames and eveything has tacked off, I will go round and check for faulting (snagging) before I leave, as with any job.
The AZ Gloss certainly tacks off quicker than the standard oil-based paints around nowdays and allows for handling the frames the same day. The finish of this product is superb, almost enamal like, and because of its high performance and flexible properties, I specify it on all my period property sash window projects.
This sort of approach and information will probably hold true for a good while, but as acrylic paint gathers momentum, there will be a shift and fewer and fewer decorators will stay familiar with the finer points of using high gloss oil paint. However, specialists like Russ Pike and other Traditional Painter network decorators specialising in period property painting and decorating will be keeping oil paint firmly in their sights, specifying and applying it professionally, when the occasion demands.
Or should we roll over and let nature take its eco course and forget how to use oil-based gloss? What do you think? When was the last time you used oil gloss? It would be interesting to hear from US painters how they found it, adapting to the decline, and near extinction, of oil paints in their market.
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