Different surfaces need different paints, so choosing the right paint for your project is crucial. Whether you’re painting interior walls, wooden furniture, metal or plastic, this simple guide will put you on the right path so you always get a great result.
If you have any questions after reading this guide, please don't hesitate to ask. We're here to help.
Remember that the key to achieving a great result when painting is preparing the surface properly.
It’s always best to sand your surface thoroughly. This slightly roughens the surface and gives the paint something to grab on to.
If there is old paint flaking or peeling from the surface it’s best to remove that paint entirely. The connection between the old paint and the surface has become unstable and the paint could continue flaking off, ruining your new paint job.
When sanding any surface, make sure to wear appropriate protective equipment like a dust mask. Of course, if there is any chance of asbestos being present, you shouldn't sand at all and instead look for alternative solutions like specialty primers.
You might also find that you need to do some small fills and repairs before you begin painting. The extra work you do at the beginning will pay off with better results in the end.
Once you’ve finished sanding, use a clean, dry microfibre cloth to remove all dust from the surface (you can also use a vacuum cleaner for this). Don’t use a wet cloth – you don’t want to start painting on a wet surface.
Check out this short video for more preparation tips.
Oil-based paint is typically thicker and tougher than water-based paint, so it has traditionally been used for door frames, window frames, skirting boards and other surfaces that are likely to be knocked or scuffed in everyday use.
Water-based paint is much easier to use across large areas such as walls, and it dries more quickly, which means that you might be able to apply multiple coats on the same day.
There are now water-based equivalents to almost every kind of oil-based paint. The great convenience of water-based paint is ease of clean-up. There’s no need for turpentine to clean brushes and spills, and no need to use chemical thinners to dilute the paint. If you need to dilute a water-based paint you can just add water.
The most common reason for choosing an oil-based product is re-covering an area that already has an existing oil-based paint on it.
If you are painting over an existing coat of paint, it’s important to identify what it is. If you use a water-based paint on top of on an oil-based paint (or an oil-based paint on top of a water-based paint) you are going to have terrible results.
A simple way of identifying the kind of paint you have is soaking the end of a clean rag in methylated spirits and then rubbing it against the paint. If the paint comes off on the rag, it’s a water-based paint. If the paint turns shiny and doesn’t come off, then it’s an oil-based paint.
Once you know what type of paint you have you can buy a paint with the same type of base and be confident that it will work over your existing paint.
Freshly plastered walls, bricks and timber often need a coat of primer, which seals the surface and gives the paint a stable base to adhere to.
These days there are products that contain both paint and primer, such as British Paints 4L White Low Sheen Interior Paint and Prime. These save time and money by eliminating the need for multiple coats.
Exterior paint contains UV stabilisers, which protect it from the sun. Ordinary indoor paint doesn’t have them, so it deteriorates quickly outside.
It’s best not to use exterior paint indoors because it might not cure properly, and it might take a long time to dry.
As with painting indoors, it’s important to clean and prepare the surface properly. A pressure washer can be helpful in removing dirt and debris.
Some older structures might still be covered in lead-based paint. Any removal of lead-based paint is best done by professionals who have the necessary training, safety equipment and safe disposal.
If you are painting varnished or stained furniture it is often a challenge to identify the type of varnish or stain used.
Oil-based varnishes often have a yellow tinge that that water-based ones don’t.
For stained furniture, you can use a water test. Put a few water droplets on the top of the furniture and if they bead up it’s an oil-based stain.
If you want to stain and varnish your furniture in one coat, you can use varnish paint, which contains both stain and varnish. If you’re using lime wash or a chalk, stone or marble effect it’s best to give your furniture a coat of primer so it has a good base for you to work on.
Whenever you are upcycling furniture, make sure to sand the surface of the item and then clean it down thoroughly to prepare it for painting, especially if you’re painting over a stained piece.
For projects involving metal surfaces, an integrated paint system such as the White Knight Rust Guard range is perfect. It includes all the separate products you might need for cleaning, treating, priming and painting.
Metals have smooth surfaces, which must be sanded and made rough for the paint to latch on to. You can also use chemical etchers that rough up metal surfaces to prepare them for painting as well.
Plastic is one of the most difficult surfaces to paint. Because it has a smooth, non-porous surface ordinary paint will just clump together, forming large droplets. The surface of the plastic must be treated with a primer specially formulated for plastic. A good example is Flood 500mL ESP Easy Surface Paint Preparation. It prepares the surface but does not damage it and allows you to paint without having to worry that it will peel off.
Raw timber must be sanded down to remove splinters and timber fibres that are on the surface.
Check out this step-by-step guide for more painting advice and please let us know if we can help with your project. We'd love to help ensure you get a fantastic result for your home.
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