All you need to know about different types of paint

Choose paint wisely for your London project. Consider VOCs, use primer, opt for water-based for walls, oil-based for durability. Decide sheen for desired finish.

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When it comes to painting and decorating in London, the available different varieties is something that is often overlooked. Instead, it is usually the colour that takes the priority; however, this can be a big mistake, as the type of paint has a huge effect on the finish and the overall feeling of the room. With options ranging over a matte to glossy spectrum, ensure that you do not make a costly mistake by not doing your research, as certain paints are also complicated to apply over each other. Besides, you should also be cautious when selecting your paint, as although recent legislation has been put in place to minimise the number of VOC’s (volatile organic compounds) in paint, some do contain more than others. These can be very hazardous for your health and can be present for up to two weeks after the job is complete when using paint that contains a high VOC level. For this reason, it is not usually convenient to use this type of paint for your home, or anywhere that you are going to sleep. If you do choose to do so, be aware and take the precaution of not staying in the house during this two week period.

Primer, or undercoat, is a preparatory coating that should be used if you are painting a new, uncoated surface. Using a primer is essential, as it will increase the durability of the topcoat, and ensure better adhesion between the topcoat and the surface. It will also protect the material that the paint is being applied to. Just like the final layer of paint, there are also several different primers to choose from. Although there are a few more specialised primers, the two key ones that you will be choosing from are oil-based or acrylic primers. The one that you use will be dependant on the type of surface that you are painting, the type of paint that you are going to use for the topcoat, and the condition that the surface is in.

If your decorative, finishing coat is of a light colour, your first coat should be as well, and vice versa if it is of a dark colour. This paint should be applied on top of the primer to optimise the colour on the topcoat. At least one or two first coats should be applied before switching to the topcoat.

After the primary steps are completed, its time to consider which type of decorative paint you want to use for the finishing layer of your wall.

Water Based Paints

Water-based paints are very similar to oil-based paints in that they are also made of oil, but have been watered down to reduce costs. This does not harm the colour, which has contributed to them becoming incredibly popular for painting walls within the home. This is for several other reasons; they have relatively low VOC levels, can dry very quickly, spills can be cleaned with water, they have a stable colour that does not yellow over time. They are quite flexible, so they are resistant to cracking. However, you should be careful if you are choosing to switch to water-based paint where an oil-based paint has previously been used.

This is because it will not adhere to the wall as it should, meaning that the water-based paint will not stick to the glossy surface that is created by the oil-based paint. If you do find yourself in this situation, it is possible to remove the glossy surface by washing the wall (being sure to not get any water in any cracks that may be present), then sanding it down after it is dry from the wash. This will dull the surface so that it is ready for the new coat. Under these circumstances, the primer will also need to be used again for the best results.

If you are thinking of preparing your wall in this way, you should also take precautions to ensure that no leader can be found in the oil-based paint that you are removing. Although lead is now banned in paint, it used to be used regularly, so if you are repainting an old wall, it is advisable to get a professional in to check that the paint is lead-free. If you do not, then using these methods to prepare the wall will create lead dust, which is incredibly bad for both your health and the environment.

These types of paints are a lot more durable, so are often used for more demanding surfaces such as floors, but can also be used on a wall if you wish to. However, it takes quite a lot longer to dry and is also harder to clean if it is split, as the clean up requires turpentine or paint thinner (mineral spirits).

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