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Best oil based eggshell

Listed under Blog, Little Greene, Owatrol, paint Posted Mar 08 2012

In terms of drying times and sanding, plus finish and “look”, the best oil based eggshell I have used is Little Greene oil based eggshell. This so-called “posh” paint is the only oil based eggshell I am using these days.

It works as expected – ie it easily dries within 16 hours in normal room temperatures, and sands beautifully with Abranet – 180, 220 0r 320 grades all work well for next day sanding.

It never misbehaves, and covers perfectly in 2 coats. It is a bit on the sticky side, but with up to 10% owatrol paint conditioner to help it along, it flows really nicely and dries back beautifully. For a professional painter, it ticks all the boxes, and apart from being a bit pungent in this day and age of low odour water based paint, what isn’t to like?

The price!? Take a good look at other paint prices before missing out. Also, bear in mind, that even on a big kitchen, I rarely use more than 2.5 litres for 2 finish coats. Hardly a kings ransom.

Paint Library interior and exterior oil based eggshell also get rave reviews. Not surprisingly, there is a direct link with Little Greene. I believe it is Little Greene oil eggshell, but in a different colourway.

Johnstones oil based eggshell is recommended by one or two of the UK kitchen painters. It would have a shinier finish than the traditional Little Greene eggshell, so for modern minded clients, Johnstones has to be a good option.

Since the introduction of the 2010 VOC eco formulas, every decorator with a pulse seems to be moaning about oil paints and the delayed drying times. I noticed that Sikkens oil based primer undercoat took well over the 16 hours to dry, which made it impossible to sand the next day, which ruins the work process, which adds time to a job and costs everyone money, except the manufacturer.

However it has cost them my business. I won’t use Sikkens oil undercoat in its current formulation, even if it were free. (Fortunately, the water-based Sikkens Rubbol primer undercoat gave me the same results as a base for the Sikkens AZ gloss, so nothing lost there.)

I am told the same drying issue applies to other brands’ oil based eggshells, but I don’t have recent first-hand experience of any of the usual suspects, and since abandoning Dulux a good while ago, I can’t tell you if the oil based Satinwood is a 100% reliable option.

Oil based eggshell v acrylic eggshell

Is it worth using oil eggshell anyway, when the acrylics are progressing so well? As I explained to my recent kitchen painting client, I do specify acrylic eggshell on all interior woodwork – except on kitchen cabinets. So I am not anti acrylic eggshell.

The only advantage really with oil eggshell, I find, is that the oil based system has a lot more body. That is a pretty big advantage though! Otherwise there is no discernible difference with the finish, maybe a tad more plastic acrylic, but at first glance, no sheen difference.

There is no disadvantage with the speed of oil paint drying compared to acrylic eggshell. As long as the work area is empty and thoroughly dusted out, the longer open time of oil paint will not really leave you prone to dust. (on a busy site where dust isn’t so easy to control, you have to think hard, or set up lots of barricades.)

And the longer recoat time of oil (16 hours v 4 hours) is irrelevant in a kitchen painting context, because who really applies 2 finish coats in a kitchen in a day?

Besides, my niche is traditional hand painted kitchens, so until the paint is no longer available, I am more than happy to use the sort of eggshell paint I grew up with.

If you have any feedback on other oil based eggshell, I would be happy to hear it.

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8 comments to “Best oil based eggshell”

  1. PaulFasham

    I’ m about to paint exterior woodwork in Sikkens oil-based (client wants the 8 to 10 year lifetime of Rubbol XD and Primer Plus). I know they’re going to be difficult to apply and dry slowly. Any tips on application… preferred brush, use of etc?
    Also, I’ve just got a Mirka Ceros and love it. Are you using a Festool RO 90 for detail work? I think it’s my next purchase, with Midi extractor.

  2. Traditional Painter

    Hi Paul, you have a good outside job there 🙂 Adding Owatrol, up to 10%, will definitely improve flow.The Wooster FTP is a good brush for pushing oil around with. The Proform Contractor also, I believe, is popular. Or you can roll the paint on and tip off with a finer bristle.

    Not stretched to an RO90 as yet, but they come highly recommended. Until Mirka bring out a square format or delta, that would be the one I would go for as a purchase. CEROS and RO90, quite a combo for efficient painters.

    cheers and if you have any pics you’d care to share of the job, show us how its done…



  3. JM

    I am 90% convinced I should use Little Greene on a wardrobe job I’m working on (client wants the furniture painted in white) but would I be best to go oil based or acrylic? The biggest factor is that it should be non-yellowing. I know that can’t be guaranteed but in your experience, which stays whiter, longer? Or are there other brands that have longer staying power? Thanks

  4. Avatar photo Andy Crichton

    Hi, personally I would shy away from white oil on internal work. White acrylic finishes will not let you down for sure. Water-borne paints without any alkyd oil would also be fine. If you look closely on labels of some hybrid alkyd/waterborne paints, even they will admit there is a chance of yellowing. Not a good time to be using alkyd and white.

  5. david wilson

    My daughter lives in a Victorian house with solid brick walls. Internally, plasterboard has been fitted using the “daub” technique (where blobs of plaster are placed on the wall and the plasterboard is pushed into position). The result is that in areas damp has found its way from the brick, through the daubs and as a result damp patches are visible in a number of places. A builder told me that a good way to disguise the stains is to paint the area with oil based gloss (or eggshell perhaps?) then emulsion over the top. Is that a reasonable thing to do??



  6. Avatar photo Andy Crichton

    Hi If you paint over what has come through the daubed areas in gloss and emulsion over the whole wall, you may well see every touch up under the emulsion because of the sheen difference. Like most damp situations, cure the damp first and when thoroughly dried, any number of stain blockers can be painted 2 coats over the whole wall. Make sure you leave the first coat of stain blocker to dry as per the instructions (some are 4 hours, others 18) and then finish in an emulsion of your choice.

  7. Martin

    Hi. I have an issue in the bathroom where I painted the walls using Little Green Intelligent emulsion and condensation has caused a bit of paint lift higher up. I contacted Little Green to ask if the traditional oil based eggshell can be used on interior walls. They suggested Intelligent eggshell, which is water based. When you say that the best oil eggshell you’ve ever used is Little Green’s, do you mean the traditional oil eggshell and do you use it on walls internally? I was thinking of using Zinsser oil based primer first with LG oil eggshell on top. Many thanks. Kind regards. Martin.

  8. Avatar photo Andy Crichton

    Little Greene Water based eggshell or Oil based eggshell are suitable for interior walls. It was designed for that back in the day and has since migrated onto woodwork.

    For the bathroom look at Zinsser Allcoat. That can be tinted and may solve your issue in a couple of coats.

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