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Little Greene oil eggshell or acrylic eggshell?

Listed under Blog, colour advice, hand-painted furniture, Little Greene Posted Jun 08 2012

loading a brush with acrylic eggshellI receive a lot of emails from trade and DIY asking for pointers or clarification on hand-painted kitchens and painting furniture.

This question is mainly asking about whether to use Little Greene acrylic eggshell or oil eggshell over Dulux primer and undercoat.

I am starting small and painting a magazine rack with the intention of going on to paint a nest of tables and my TV stand, all of which are pine. I have looked at the Little Green website and agree that the paints look very good quality and am prepared to buy them. BUT I am so confused as to whether to go for oil based eggshell or acrylic eggshell.

I have primed/undercoated in Dulux Primer Undercoat and done two coats, which I plan to rub down again before the final coats.

Also the Little Green White Lead doesn’t look white it looks a grey colour and I definitely want white.

Any help would be much appreciated.

This is my answer.

Hi thanks for your question. Sorry I couldn’t explain the choices better on the main article!

Oil or acrylic eggshell?

If you have used Dulux acrylic (water-based) primer undercoat you can use either Little Greene acrylic or Little Greene oil eggshell finish. The choice is personal.

Easiest to use is acrylic eggshell.

Aesthetically, both Little Greene oil and acrylic eggshell are low 20% sheen, so both have a good ole chalky flat look, but durable. The acrylic has a slightly more plastic look, but that is me being picky. At first glance, or without a side by side comparison, you probably won’t be able to tell.

If you have used Dulux oil based primer undercoat, then for simplicity, I would stick with Little Greene oil eggshell finish. Oil eggshell plus up to 10% Owatrol additive (a fancy white spirit), the brushmarks should be minimal.

Little Greene do both oil and acrylic eggshell finishes and I think that their paint is the trade’s best kept secret, (thankfully the word is spreading) so no worries with selecting their paint.

Paint table tops

You say you are going to be painting tables etc? I tend to avoid painting the tops, if they are being used regularly, because paint will scratch with keys and stuff thrown on them, time after time. If for display purposes only, or if you put a cloth over, then paint is fine on a table top. Otherwise I sand them back to bare and seal them clear or tint a lacquer for some depth of natural colour.

Here is a bit more info on how and when to prepare and paint table tops

Little Greene’s whitest paint

White Lead isn’t particularly white. Try Shirting, which is the whitest white mixed in the Little Greene range, I believe. You could ask an independent Little Greene stockist for Shirting, without the tint added, I guess that would be whiter still? Not done that myself, as pure white doesn’t really gel with the traditional vibe of Little Greene, but that is a personal preference not a rule set in stone.

btw, have you seen the latest Little Greene flying colour cards. Quite innovative.

Hope that has helped. And I will try and rejig the original article so it reads clearer.

This last paragraph is a bit techno /arcane so ignore if you are OK with the options so far! There are oil based primers specifically formulated to take acrylic eggshell over the top without any compatibility concerns (eg Zinsser Coverstain). However with standard oil based primers and undercoats, I think the chemists will say it is best for the oil base paint to be totally cured for best results before applying acrylic eggshell. Standard oil paint takes about 30 days to cure.

I also believe that for longevity, a bridging coat (ie a specialist primer) is best before applying acrylic eggshell over standard oil paint. Having said that, there are self priming hi-performance acrylic eggshells coming on the market and breaking that rule though! Mythic have one.

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6 comments to “Little Greene oil eggshell or acrylic eggshell?”

  1. chris spence chris spence

    Hi AC
    Brilliant article as are your others and id just like to say thanks for input and pointers, you know i tend not to listen to too many people but you i certainly do.
    One of a kind.
    Kind regards

  2. Traditional Painter

    Cheers Chris, I know there a million points of view out there, do my best to keep things simple. Doesnt always work, but hey this is a tricky job with lots of options to divert us from the best ones 🙂

  3. GT

    I’ve started painting my kitchen, which arrived primed & undercoated, with Johnstones acrylic eggshell matched to a Little Greene colour. The finish is so soft with 2 coats after a week or 2. My decorator ( who is doing the rest of the house) tells me that oil based is a much better finish and worth the longer drying times. Then I found your web site.
    Ive now bought the proper Little Greene oil egg shell paint BUT can I now paint over the acrylic egg shell with that or do I need to prime all over again?
    The work tops arrival is imminent by which time the frames need to be in….HELP
    Painting the kitchen myself is a penance for being so picky about the colour scheme!
    This is a great site, wish I’d found it earlier.

  4. Avatar photo Andy Crichton

    Hi, it sounds like your topcoat is maybe not compatible with the basecoats applied at the workshop and slowing down the curing times. Do you know what they used as a primer / basecoat? If we dont know what we are painting over, usually take the safe route and apply a Zinsser or Otex oil base primer, especially with water based topcoats. Oil based eggshells are a less picky option over most basecoats.

    Acrylic eggshell by nature is not soft, it is fully cured after 7 to 10 days. The oil eggshell is strong, and is self undercoating on a stable base, but at the moment you don’t have a stable base, so until it has cured better, please don’t rush in to rectify this problem with another layer of paint, else you may have other problems.

    I would tend to wait for the paint to cure further. Proceed with worktops and finishing the installation, and when the acrylic eggshell has settled down, you can revisit your thoughts on an oil based topcoat. If any more painting has to be done when everyone has left, there is nothing spoilt, kitchen painters should be the last trade in anyway!

    Once it has cured, and all seems well with hardness and adhesion, if you go for oil eggshell, because there has been an issue with the acrylic eggshell, it would be best belt and braces to use at least a deglosser solution before you apply oil eggshell, or get a tinted coat of Zinsser Coverstain or Otex before topcoating.

    If the acrylic eggshell hasnt hardened up in 4 weeks from the date it was painted, or it dries without any adhesion, then you need a different plan, but till then, let time do its thing.



  5. G Galloway

    Hello 🙂

    I’m buying new door and drawer fronts for my kitchen which will be finished in ‘paintable vinyl’ and have got myself really confused about eggshell types and primers!

    Internet research suggests that Little Greene ‘Acrylic Eggshell’ would be most suitable for a not-very-experienced painter like me, but the name has now changed to ‘Intelligent Eggshell’, which is water based. Is this the same, or would you now recommend their oil based acrylic instead?

    As far as primers go, which primer is best for the type you recommend? I’m guessing that the primer base has to be the same as the paint base, but I could be making that up!

    Finally, I’ve noticed that you recommend using a paint conditioner. What would you recommend there, too?

    Best regards
    G Galloway

  6. Kev the Handyman

    A client of mine has bought the LG water based eggshell and I found it very difficult to get good results after using a good quality trade primer undercoat. It does not like being “worked” and took a good two costs to get anywhere near a flat finish. However, I then asked my client to change to the oil based, which was much better.
    I’ve no issues with their emulsions just the wsterbssed eggshell.

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