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Paint I avoid

Listed under Blog, Little Greene, Mythic paint, paint Posted Aug 06 2011

Update May 2013 This article written in Aug 2011 applies to general decorating scenarios, and holds good for trade and DIY decorators.

I don’t use vinyl matt emulsions or contract emulsion any more, because they have proven very unreliable – for me. No touch-ups possible with darker colours, and the big one, crazing cracking caulk.

Personally, I haven’t used own brand water-based trade eggshell / gloss paint from the usual suspect trade decorator merchants for a while either – so I don’t know what is best and haven’t had the time to work out whether Dulux ecosure is better than Crown w/b gloss is better than Johnstones… TP Associate Painters and Decorators have nailed their preferences, though, as has TP Staffordshire specialist Martin Dunn, whose findings I refer to below.

There are also discussions on Painters Pit Stop where they share experience of those water based eggshell and gloss.

At a push I might use International oddball primers and paints, otherwise I would try and avoid trade paint on sale in the DIY stores, unless it is bona fide the original trade product. Only then let’s talk, otherwise if you see Dulux paint or Crown paint, no mention of Trade, and it is in a B&Q type place, I would pass – it is in a retail store for a reason.

(To be fair, there are some trade labelled accessories that are safe to buy in B&Q

Please don’t get confused and think that only paint that says TRADE on the tin is any good. Basically, the rule is – UK “trade” paint suppliers don’t make very good “retail” paint. Logically, they can’t, can they! else the appeal of their trade paint to the trade will be undermined, and would have little to no premium qualities to keep the trade happy. In more sophisticated and developed markets, the difference between trade and retail is much more blurred.

I am in the trade, but I don’t care who makes my paint as long as it works. There are a few companies like Little Greene who don’t market to the trade, but you better believe, the premium prices of their paints are matched by premium quality ingredients whose performance will easily surpass the majority of popular “trade” paints, especially wall and ceiling paints.

Not picking on anyone, but if F&B were as good at chemistry as they are at marketing, it would be much more obvious to the public and the trade about the ethos behind boutique / premium / posh paint and the reason for higher prices. You normally get what you pay for – except where F&B are concerned. There are way too many grey areas of doubt about the quality of their range, (excuse the grey pun) – and that actually creates massive doubts in the trade’s minds especially, about the integrity of all products involved in the posh paint market.) Another step backwards for an already backward UK paint industry, shame that!

I won’t risk any white oil-based gloss apart from Sikkens AZ. If that ever yellows prematurely, then there is no hope for any white oil paint made after 2010. (I have it on good authority that Johnstones oil paint seemed to escape the vagaries of re-formulation post 2010, so it isn’t quite the one-horse race I thought for white oil gloss.)

There doesn’t seem to be much left to choose from, painter!

Paint I don’t avoid

Check out Traditional Painter and you will see we have tried to keep paint selection fairly simple for general decorating.

Little Greene have a strong selection of finishes right across the range in oil and acrylic paint, interior and exterior. So for “traditional” interiors ie where you might be thinking Farrow and Ball type projects, I would just look for Little Greene paint, and know it will work. The water-based paints for woodwork are low odour and Toy Safe.

The Absolute Matt for walls is chalky just like F&B Estate emulsion paint, suitable for quiet houses and ceilings – ie where you don’t have much chance of marking. With LG, coverage and ease of use are brilliant and you don’t have to follow the peculiar F&B spec of a basecoat plus 2 coats of emulsion to achieve a nice finish. (Miss out the basecoat and you will get no sympathy from F&B, if something goes wrong with the paint job.)

LG Intelligent Matt will tick every box. It is “shinier” than absolute matt, but still less shiny than normal vinyl matt. Or as I would say, a low sheen / not quite chalky sheen that is scrubbable. Coverage is top drawer, superb on stairways and kitchens.

I would consider Mythic wall paints in situations where I would have gone previously straight for “modern” looking Dulux etc. Nice and flat and good coverage, fast drying, no odour, great for kids’ rooms, or public eating areas, nurseries etc.

Mythic eggshell is flatter than most UK users would expect from eggshell. (Matter as in matt flat, and also it dries out flat level too!) Mythic semi-gloss is less prone to marking on woodwork than Mythic eggshell. Don’t use Mythic Low Lustre on woodwork, it doesn’t work. Mythic Semi gloss is less shiny than gloss, ie a shiny satinwood. (All Mythic acrylic woodwork paint will scrub clean repeatedly, but if you want to avoid attracting marks, just remember the Ron Taylor advice – go one sheen higher than eggshell to attain similar properties to oil eggshell, repeat up the sheen range etc.

Sikkens Satura is a tough satin but is a definite trade quality product that needs your full attention to make it play nicely.

I would use Sikkens AZ gloss for front doors. Sikkens XD is the biggest hitter for durability, but you better practice first. As Scot Hindley, our TP associate painter and decorator in Cheshire says, “The tin needs to be heated up with a gas lamp, it is so sticky.” (Don’t try that at home, it is a turn of phrase – leave oil paint in the hot sun or on a radiator, or add Owatrol to loosen it up.)

I know that Sikkens and Tikurilla and other super specialist European brands have most of the angles well covered between them. We will have something to say elsewhere about paint selection, where you are looking for off-the-scale durability on interior walls and woodwork, as well as exterior woodwork and masonry.

For a good while, by keeping paint selection quite narrow, I experienced very few surprises during the course of general decorating work. I see a move in that direction elsewhere, with decorators cutting out the endless shopping around, focussing on proven product / ranges only, less concerned about the deal on “that other tin”, instead, getting the right tin from one of a couple of trusted ranges, and applying its contents incident-free.

What is noteworthy is that the Little Greene and Mythic wall and ceiling paints have something in common – high acrylic content, fantastic coverage and easy touch up. So no crazing over caulk, swift application, practical, and massive colour choice.

The Little Greene acrylic undercoat and eggshell gives me a very close approximation to traditional flat looking oil paint, and the drying times mean that even on a busy site, I can get a smashing finish.

Little Greene oil eggshell is just 10/10 and although it is a modern trade formula, it gives a finish like granddad used to get.

Sikkens AZ has been the gloss of choice for top Euro painters since 1934, which is a good enough pedigree for me.

Yes there are probably better paints than others in certain situations, yes there are more choices in the market than you can ever get a handle on, but whether they realise or not, professionals and DIY need reliability ahead of a “deal”, which is why we tend to gravitate towards a narrow selection of proven products. And if there is a small gap in the range, we will find a paint to fill it.

If you hate surprises, avoid vinyl and contract wall paints. Do you have preferred paints, or do you tend to use something different one similar job to the next?

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4 comments to “Paint I avoid”


    Dear Andy,

    I hope this email finds you well.

    I just wanted to take a moment to say what a fantastic website!!!
    It is so refreshing to find enthusiastic craftsmen with a open view on sharing.

    Myself and all my colleagues applaud you.

    Kindest regards,

    Henry van der Vijver

  2. Andy Crichton Andy Crichton

    Henry, that compliment coming from you and your team is very much appreciated.

    And talking great websites, wow, the content isn’t so bad on yours!

    You certainly do decorating right, and then some. What are you working on at the moment?



  3. Andy Traverse

    So glad I came across this website – the knowledge is fantastic. I recently purchased my first period property and was looking to step up to using some quality products and techniques, away from the usual B&Q type stuff.

    I am going to be working on some neglected timber windows and stone sills, so will be using this site to decide on what products to go for. If I run out of time to do this myself this summer I will get in touch! Thanks again.

  4. Andy Crichton Andy Crichton

    Good luck with your projects, just ask if you aren’t clear on anything

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