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Paint Plus Armour Guard v Johnstones oil satin & water-based satin

Listed under Blog, Eco, Martin Dunn, paint, Wooster Posted Apr 20 2013

Paint Plus Armour Guard is of New Zealand origin. Water-based satin, requires no primer or undercoat, dries tough, interior and exterior quality, and won’t go yellow. It seems to be the paint of choice in top London hotels where its fast drying qualities and low odour enable quick turn arounds of hotel rooms. That is the sales pitch.

It sounds like a product Traditional Painters would be all over. If you ever want to know what a new un-familiar product is really like, the best option is to hand it over to an honest and experienced professional to try it, use it, compare it, and then assess it.

Traditional Painter for Stafford, Martin Dunn, ticks all the boxes, and is great value as a reviewer.

Firstly, he compares ArmourGuard to oil-based satin to see how it rates against most painters’ yardstick for the best finish

Second, he compared it in use to a “like-for-like” water-based satin.

Finally, Martin refers to several other water-based satin paints he is familiar with.

This is what to expect the first time you use this product. Read with a broad Black Country accent in your mind…

Paint Plus Armour Guard A while back I was sent a pot of Paint Plus (paint +) Armour Guard satin in white. I was waiting for a decent job where I could give it an honest trial run and not just paint some pieces of MDF in my garage.

We have been redecorating some offices for discerning clients this week, and satin white was specced for the trim.

Prepare existing oil-based gloss woodwork

The existing paintwork was an oil gloss in white, which had dulled down a bit, but was in good nick. This was flatted (dry) and wiped over with sugar soap wipes (great product from Crown Decorator Centres) to key up and clean down.

The surface was now ready for a comparison between oil based satin and Paint Plus acrylic satin.

Johnstones Brilliant White satin in oil

We decided to go with our first choice of oil satin in Brilliant White from Johnstones, mainly because we know this product, its drying times and capabilities. (Oil is still the yardstick for a high end finish, whether paint manufacturers like it or not.)

Now I know people will be getting all hot under the collar and go on about yellowing oil paints. Let’s be honest, ALL oil whites have ALWAYS yellowed, especially in areas with poor natural light, but when Dulux (and Crown to some extent) were going a shade of cream overnight and not drying for a couple of weeks, that was clearly not right. However, Johnstones were not experiencing this problem.


So we are using an oil-based satin I trust.

Paint Plus

Paint Plus (I think) is not a hybrid, like a lot of current water-based glosses and satins. So it has a very “vinyl silk” and pudding-like appearance and feel.

I applied it straight from the tin (after a good stir) with no additives – I would normally add Floetrol -but I wanted to see what this was like in its natural form. Brush of choice was a * Wooster Silver Tip. The surface was prepped as stated, and had NO undercoat/primer applied.

Results are in

OK, next to oil – no contest. (Oil along the top architrave, Paint + on the vertical)

johnstones oil eggshell

The oil is head and shoulders above the water-based satin for finish and ease of application.

Paint Plus ArmourGuard

First impressions of Paint Plus Armour guard

Quality of finish – The Paint Plus is very ropey with a lot of brush marks. These did dissapear a bit as it dried, but not enough for the finish I am after (and achieve with other satin paints).

Yes, I could have rolled it on and laid it off. I could have added a good dollop of Floetrol. All this would have helped, but like I said, I wanted to see it “natural”.

Satin sheen The finish is more eggshell than satin – which isn’t a bad thing

Opacity isn’t bad for a water-based.

Adhesion It seemed to adhere well to the surface – time would tell on that front.

UPDATE May 27 2013: On a recent job, we were up against it time wise so we needed to get 2 coats on in a short time, finishing with an oil satin top coat.

Trim was in a right mess and dirty. Flat back and wipe down. Then I was going to use water-based undercoat, but I feel you lose the lusture with the top coat doing this. So I went with Armourguard first.

Went on quick. No skidding when applying. Dried superfast and more important seemed to stick really well to non-primed trim. The oil-based top coat really went on a treat on top of it.

One area had to be done double quick, so we went with 2 coats of Armourguard. The finish is still a bit ropey for me and it did ciss up on less prepared areas, but not bad at all.

Paint Plus Armour Guard v Johnstones water-based satin on a prepared and undercoated handrail

This was a straight comparison between 2 water-based satin paints.

Handrail was previously glossed, so it was prepped as above and given 1 coat of acrylic primer u/c (Johnstones).

Top tip Don’t let anyone tell you you need Zinsser 1-2-3 or other expensive water-based grip primers under your waterbased top coats on well prepped woodwork – WASTE OF MONEY, SO DON’T BELIVE THE HYPE.

A good acrylic primer-undercoat or water-based u/c (Johnstones Aqua or Mythic’s u/c are fantastic) are all you need. IT’S THE PREP NOT THE PAINT.

Comparing like for like?

One part I coated up with Paint Plus and the other part with Johnstones water-based satin (because we had some on the van) so we could compare water-based satins. Apologies, the photo didn’t come out.

Quality of finish
Again I was disappointed with the Paint Plus. The Johnos flowed out better.

Sheen Johnstones had more of a satin finish.

Opacity was about the same.

In summary

I would say that straight out the tin, the Paint Plus Armour Guard would make a good DIY product because of its feel and appearance, and it didn’t seem to mind being applied without a primer or undercoat on previously painted woodwork. Again I would say it is more eggshell than satin. It does seem a tough product, and there is no reason to suspect it would yellow.

In response to further questioning about its trade credentials :

No, out the tin, it doesnt flow like Mythic which has more of a trade feel IMO. Paint Plus dries quick and does seem to stick, so maybe add some Floetrol, roll on, lay off – and you may be OK.

I don’t think Johnstones make the best water-based satin by a long way (their water-based gloss is very good though!) so if you were looking for a water-based satin, look at Sikkens Satura (watch it, it runs faster than Gary Glitter chasing the school bus) or Mythic – both great products.

Mythic Satin

As for water-based eggshell – Little Greene is an obvious choice or even Farrow & Ball estate. But if you can get hold of it, Mythic or Sikkens Magura (which I think they may have stopped making now), they are top banana!

Sikkens Satura and Magura


Martin Dunn Painting and decorating specialist Birmingham Staffordshire South CheshireSpecialist painter and decorator, Martin Dunn, is a member of the Traditional Painter UK network. He is the first port of call for painting and decorating projects from Birmingham to Stafford and S Cheshire.

Martin has been a specialist decorator for many years, and is expert in most traditional decorative finishes, and wallcoverings. He also spent 7 years lecturing, and is one of only a few in the country who were qualified to assess the workmanship of professional decorators.


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One comment to “Paint Plus Armour Guard v Johnstones oil satin & water-based satin”

  1. Gary Henderson

    I would like to ask martins advice on which oil based exterior satin/ eggshell paint to use on the woodwork on our red brick Victorian lodge house please.

    We had our house painted 3 years ago using Farrow and ball water based paint and found it extremely disappointing, as it now requires reprinting ,
    I have spoken to a number of decent decorators and they all feel an oil based paint would last longer.

    But we do not want a gloss Finnish, and have found the choice of manufacturers available that can mix our preferred colour ( Farrow and ball pigeon) limited to Johnston or Zinzzer .

    Can you advise the best quality longest lasting exterior paint brand please.


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