I’ve been planning to write this post for months, but wanted to collate as much info and evidence as possible before shooting my mouth. I haven’t seen anyone else tackle this issue yet and it’s about time someone did.
Over the past few years, there’s been a huge shift in the paint industry. Read this:
“Since the latest Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) Regulations came into force in the UK back in 2010, many paint products containing high levels of VOCs – the solvents that determine a paint’s viscosity, flow and drying time – were no longer be able to be manufactured.” Dulux
Ok, that’s very interesting, Karen, but what does this actually mean?
I’ll tell you. It meant the paints we’re used to painting our wood/metal work with have had to change in order to comply with the new VOC regs. Oil or solvent based paints as we knew them could no longer be sold because of environmental reasons. You know how old school gloss paint stinks and takes ages to dry? It’s also really bad for the environment.
“This marked a huge shake up in the paint and coatings market and left many professional appliers looking for alternative products that provide the results they require while complying with the legislation. Water based paints, with their naturally low VOC levels, have fast become a popular alternative.” Dulux
This is great! Anything that’s better for the environment gets a thumbs up from me. What gets a middle-y though is that fact that nobody’s really informed us, the customer about how this changes things, in practice.
Erm, ok, why would anyone bother telling us? Paint is paint right?
Well yes, but as in Animal Farm, “All paints are equal, but some paints are more equal than others.” More often, i’m finding myself steering people away from well loved paint brands and onto others in order to avoid some of the problems i’ve had with paint in the past.
What’s the problem?
The problem is, most of us have already used solvent based paint on our woodwork and metalwork at home. So now, when you want to touch up or re-paint your existing skirting and architraves, it’s not as simple as popping down to your local DIY warehouse and picking up any old pot of eggshell. You’ve got to get yourself clued up.
Because, if you apply a water based gloss/eggshell directly onto solvent based woodwork paint it will just chip, scratch or peel off. You know, how if you dropped a bit of oil into a glass of water, they just separate don’t they? The solvent in your old gloss paint forms a barrier which repels the water based paint from ahering. So before using any water based eggshell/gloss, you now need to use a water based primer too. A “brand specific” primer or undercoat is required to improve the adhesion between the old surface and new top coat of paint.
Indeed. Don’t get me wrong, water based paints are way easier to use than their solvent based counterparts: Less smell, quicker drying times, easier to work with, a doddle to clean up afterwards and way better for the environment. All great. But then when you’re all finished and the first thing you do is dink your woodwork and see all that hard work “chip off” it’s pretty infuriating. Everyone claims water based paints are as good if not better than our old skool paints. I’m not 100% convinced.
Here’s been my experience so far:
My first time working with Valspar in 2015 was a mixed bag. Their emulsion was absolutely fab. I prefer their basic paint compared to the premium as it has a much more matt finish with great coverage. The woodwork and metal paint, however, was rubbish. Valspar is pretty new to the UK paint market, pushing Dulux out of B&Q’s across the country. It was now Valspar over on the paint mixing desk. When I went to get paint mixed for the Blue Room project, DID ANYONE TELL ME I NEEDED TO BUY A SPECIAL WATER BASED ACRYLIC PRIMER FOR THE WOODWORK?
No, no they bloody didn’t. And this is something I have issues with. If you’ve got trained staff on a paint desk, having one to one conversations with customers about what paint they would like mixing (because Valspar mix every colour right then, right there) why on earth aren’t they explaining the need for primer?
As you can probably imagine, the adhesion of this matt eggshell onto what was a solvent based satin finish, was rubbish. I remember tweeting Valspar to ask why their eggshell felt just like emulsion and didn’t get a reply. I just kept painting and painting it on in order to build up the layers. Even then, it still wasn’t great. My first lesson learned. Always buy the primer if you’re using Valspar woodwork paint.
So I did. For the next project where Valspar featured; The Sherwood Forest project.
You can see the grey primer on the skirting, architrave and radiator here ready for its coat of dark green paint.
Two coats of Valspar eggshell paint went on very nicely and dried super quick. But it still chipped off. Man, I was so pissed off at this point. The solution? I had a solvent based paint colour-matched at a local paint specialist and I repainted all of the woodwork myself. **sigh**
The only places where i’ve had any luck with Valspar’s woodwork paint has been when i’ve used their primer and paint on a completely bare surface (untreated timber doors and brand new, pre-primed MDF architrave).
So unless you’re willing to sand your woodwork right back to basics, i’m not convinced their water based paint is quite cutting it. Not for high traffic areas anyway.
FARROW & BALL
The first time i’d ever worked with Farrow & Ball was actually in 2016. Late to the party as ever.
It was used throughout three rooms in a large Victorian refurb I was working on. When I placed the order, admittedly, I had no idea Farrow and Ball had pulled all their oil based paints. And again, nobody advised me to purchase a specialist undercoat for the eggshell either.
The paint was delivered directly to the property and the decorating began before I managed to get back on site. Even the decorator wasn’t aware of Farrow and Ball’s paint change. In fact he only realised half way through when his “oil based paint brush” was dragging in the water based paint. So, if a full-time professional decorator isn’t in the loop with all things “paint”, where does that leave the layperson? Where does that leave us lot standing staring at shelf after shelf of paint wondering which tin to pick up and take home?
Just looking at this image above makes me feel immensely sad as I know what came next. I won’t go into detail, let’s just say, there was a fair amount of remedial work to sort on the landing where the paint hadn’t adhered to the doors.
I keep on learning….
With all of this in mind, I was quick to advise my clients from the Drawing Room project about 100% needing to use the F&B primer before using Stiffkey Blue on their woodwork and radiator. I didn’t want the same situation to occur again.
The result? It still chipped off. They sanded everything back before priming too.
At this point, I never ever wanted to see or use a water based paint on woodwork again.
Luckily, Little Greene still sell a traditional oil-based eggshell and gloss, which they manufacture using naturally occurring vegetable oils, keeping in line with the VOC regs. Hoorah!
I’ve since used this paint, both the eggshell and gloss finishes in two projects:
And it’s been wonderful. The gloss finish is beautiful and most importantly, doesn’t chip or peel.
You can read more about the two William Morris bedrooms here and the Upper Brook Street project, with its Black Jack door in Traditional Oil Eggshell here.
I’ve yet to try Dulux’s water based eggshell, maybe I should have, so I could have added it to this post. I stuck with their solvent based eggshell for our loft spaces, which behaved exactly as I would have expected.
Although a good friend has recently painted her woodwork in Dulux’s water based eggshell (after priming) and is really happy with the finish. So there is hope yet perhaps? I need to continue investigating….
I don’t want to sound like i’m brand bashing, it’s not about that. I would LOVE to see paint brands solve this issue so we can all move over to water based products. But these brands have also got to let people know this is a “thing”. This is a real problem for those of us who are working in people’s homes, keeping budgets in check and tradespeople sweet. Not to mention wanting to give the client the best service you possibly can.
Hmmm, this is all very confusing. How do I tell if a paint is water based or solvent based?
Yes, it is isn’t it. But there is a simple way to work out which base your paint uses. Turn your can around and take a look at how you clean your paint brush. If you can rinse it with water, it’s water based. If it says to use white spirit/turps, it’s solvent based. Simples.
Painting woodwork is one of life’s more tedious jobs. Not one you want to have to keep on top of. Or even want to do annually. Once it’s done, you expect it to last a few years don’t you? So, i’m just sharing my experiences with you to save you the hassle of re-painting chipping and peeling paint. I’ll probably be struck off a few invite lists for posting this, but my blog has always been about telling it like it is, sharing my projects and experiences and most importantly, it’s here to help you lot out. Someone’s got to write this stuff no?
I’d be really interested to know your experiences on this guys? Did you already know about this? Any paints you swear by? Any you’ve sworn off? Let me know.
** Update 22/04/21 **
Well it seems this post (along with painting UPVC) is still in my top two posts of all time. Since I wrote this post, i’ve become a huge fan of Benjamin Moore paints (all water based) and wrote about using them for the first time here in 2019.
Benjamin Moore #paintlikenoother.
I’ve since used their paints for several projects and have been really happy with it on both walls and woodwork. Read all about it by clicking the link above.
The last three years have been a real eye opener for paints with many overseas brands and new UK brands hitting the market. When I get chance, I will write up another post with everything i’ve learned and add the link here. But for now, my go-to brands are:
Benjamin Moore – all water based
Little Greene and Paint and Paper Libary – offer both water based and eco friendly oil based options
Until next time…
This is something that has bugged me for the last 6 years! The worst for me is white wood work paint. It yellows after only a couple of months unless it’s in an area where is gets good sunlight to bleach it. Again this is because of the VOC regs. My husband and I have tried all sorts: water based, oil based, different brands! Argh!!!! The best we have found is a water based Ronseal stays white 2 in 1 primer and paint in satin. So far it has stayed white and has a nice finish. It’s a total pain in the ass to apply as it has to be super thin coats and built up very slowly. But it’s worth it to not see it turn yellow. Interesting about Little Greene though, I’ll try that out next. Thanks for writing about this, thought it was just me! ☺
Definitely not just you, Sarah. Cheers for Ronseal suggestion. And yes, take a look at Little Greene, although I have no experience of using their oil based white paints, so can’t comment on the yellowing issue….
Hi Karen I know this post was from a while back but I’ve only just stumbled on it! It’s brilliant and highlights a whole load of issues relating to these water-based paints which, when used on woodwork, just aren’t very durable at all. I’m keen on the green/eco side of house renovation – I write a blog called renovategreen.co.uk – and I’ve found two other paint brands which, like Little Greene, get around the VOC issue by using natural plant oils in their oil-based paints. Auro make a natural oil gloss paint called eco gloss (only comes in white though) and Edward Bulmer make a traditional and modern oil eggshell in a whole range of colours.
I used Lakeland paints natural no voc odour free paint but painter sprayed 7 sprays in bedroom over kids pen and drawings ( sure paint would have covered) but now 3 weeks on left with a sweet smell . Odd. No way put my son in there as is it a chemical or what. Spray used was Zinsser Bin stain spray . It was heavy rain when painted . So worried about it. Is it natural pain reacting with old paint or Zinsser spray . What can I do. Worried sick
In regards to Little Greene, I loved how it flowed and it results made me smile as it looked like gloss paints of old….. well until a about 6 weeks later when it started to yellow. Thought it was how the painter applied it, but than I noticed the surface where I put 3 coats on (to hide a bumpy surface) also yellowed. Bit disappointed as now have to repaint skirting boards, picture rail and 2 doors. Looking on the paint can it also was yellowing where the paint caught the outside of the tin, So the search is back on….. Now only if I could invent a time machine to pick up a pre VOC regulation tin of paint :o)
All oil based paints go yellow with a lack of sunlight, they always have!
Beg to differ, when paint contained lead, it stays white for donkey’s years. My rocking horse was built and painted by my father when I was a toddler 67 years ago. He redid the horse with the same (hoarded) lead paint for my one year old son. He’s now 45, and the horse is still pure white! The emerald green lead paint rockers are also still bright green. I know it’s not PC to have lead paint on children’s toys but none of my four ever chewed the horse. Now grandchildren are playing with the same pure white horse.
Great info – I’ve stumbled across this VOC thing recently too and wondered what the crack was. We were told that we had to use water based paint on our exterior wood and we were wondering what the flip was going on! Our paint guy said Americans have been using it for years (isn’t that always the case!) if in fact that is true!
I can also recommend the ronseal 2 in 1 too, although like Sarah says, it takes several thin layers and I REALLY HATE glossing!!! I shall keep Little Greene in mind for the inside of our new garden room. Thanks for the intel and research!
Cheers Alex, two points for Ronseal 2 in 1. Will make a note. And you’re welcome. Hope it’s helped!
Yes it is true re water based exterior paint USA and Canada but we found it did not last like oil based does ( we lived there for 10yrs) . I too have used little Greene veg oil paint but only indoors, it is great chalky like paint very similar to how F& B was…. and you can touch up..unlike F&B which is now rubbish
Food for thought! I recently had a couple of external doors repainted in water based external eggshell, rather than traditional gloss. And now the doors are swelling as the days get warmer and harder to open / close. Wondering if breathability has been affected? And no, the decorator didn’t strip the wood right back….
Interesting. I’m guessing they’d been painted in a solvent based paint previously? Did he use a primer before the eggshell?
Doors to tend to swell with the change of seasons, but would you say this is the first time you’ve noticed it?
Kudos to you for writing about this! It’s a minefield isn’t it? Really sorry to hear of the trouble you’ve had with your projects, bummer. I’ve come to rely on a few products that haven’t let me down yet:
(1) Zinsser BIN shellac primer for anything and everything that needs priming (from laminate to woodwork previously painted in oil based paint) – I clean brushes using Zinsser’s brush cleaner.
(2) Dulux Pure Brilliant White Satinwood if woodwork needs to be white (after priming, if previously painted in oil-based paint) – this doesn’t yellow, it really does stay white. And it’s fast drying.
(3) I second Little Greene’s brilliant oil eggshell in which I painted my dining chairs several years ago. They get a lot of wear and the paint hasn’t chipped at all! I used a pale stone colour so can’t speak for their white on whether or not it yellows.
Excellent. Good to know, Meera. Thanks for the heads up on your paints of choice. I’ve never used Zinsser before, always thought it was only available in the US for some reason. Will look it up!
Hi Meera – could you tell me whether the Dulux Pure Brilliant White Satinwood is water-based or oil based. We’ve just used the Dulux Once Pure Brilliant White Satinwood – it has a terrible finish (brush marks – may be us of course!!) This is oil based though and we’re now reading that it will yellow very quickly!
Note that there are at least four Dulux Satinwoods – the Quick Dry Satinwood is water based (and comes in ‘normal’ and Trade versions) and then there are oil based Once Satinwood and Trade Satinwood
Oil based paint works much better with real bristle brushes. If you were using acrylic brushes, that could be why you had brush marks. I find water based gets brush marks whatever brush I use, whereas oil is generally fine with bristle.
read the tin…
Can you tell me exactly which sulus white you used to cover gloss wood please as I would like non yellowing. Prep paint is old gloss
Oh god, so sorry to hear of all your nightmare projects – it’s a minefield! I take for granted living with a professional painter and so I’m aware of the differences between oil-based and water-based paints and have always had someone to advise what is best to use on what kind of pre-painted surface. I realise that this kind of knowledge is entirely specialist and on any woodwork that’s being painted gloss or satin, I will ALWAYS go for oil-based. Like Meera and as I said to you, I found Dulux’s Trade Satinwood to be really good with no issues of chipping or yellowing and I only used it because I was getting frustrated with the oil-based paints going yellow on me. So far so good. I am wondering if it wouldn’t be easier to spray your surfaces if possible with plastics adhesion spray (we’ve used this on a few projects and it works a charm on anything gloss or laminate with no chipping). You can get it in Halford’s and it’s for cars but it works really well on furniture too. xxx
Great post, thank you. I’m just about to embark on painting a large expanse of woodwork painted by the previous owner – any idea how I’d find out what is currently on there? I need the next lot of paint to be extremely hardwearing as it’s in a high traffic area, so I need to get it right.
Hi Ruth, i’m not 100% sure how you’d find out, but my first guess would be to put some white spirit on a cloth and rub the woodwork. If the paint starts to come off on the cloth, it’s going to be solvent based. Either way, I wouldn’t scrimp on the prep. So sanding back, priming and then painting. Either choose oil based or water based for the whole lot, don’t mix a water based primer with an oil based paint and vice versa. If in doubt, go directly to the trade counter and get some advice before you crack on. Good luck!!
NO that is water based (plastic) paint that cannot resist any solvent! Oil based paint will have hardened and probably WONT come off with solvent – except tri cloro ethylene.
[I’m a retired picture restorer and know a tiny bit about paints]
I’m so glad you’ve written this. It is a complete minefield. I was a decorator before starting my design business so have a lot of hands on experience that goes back to the introduction of VOC labelling (essential so we can see where the real nasties are) and introduction of water based alternatives by some companies. Not all decorators takes such great delight in research as you and I do 😉
Here are my rambling thoughts:
1) All oil based finishes yellow with time. Some more than others and this varies with position, so areas concealed behind furniture will yellow most. This means for the look you love, Karen, with matching walls and woodwork, water based is the way to go (once the experts can agree the right process). So it is worth finding a water based system that works.
2) Water based paints for woodwork are so fast drying it can make smooth application harder as the technique of ‘laying off’ which traditional decorators would use to reduce brush marks cannot be done easily with water based as there is so little workable time for the paint.
3)The correct brush is SOO worth it. Farrow and Ball came to the oil-free party earlier than most and their water based Eggshell was used by a decorator for me in the early days. He said he’d rather give up decorating than ever use it again. He was using the bristle brushes. I decided I’d rather not use him again. Oops!
3) Priming / undercoating is vital to isolate between different types of paint. Of course each paint manufacturer will recommend their own primer be used. In the words of Mandy Rice Davies “Well, he would say that, wouldn’t he?” However Dulux have a very well established primer that I used for years to isolate between oil and water based products with fabulous results. It’s fast drying, reliable, easy to sand and available from every DIY outlet. Dulux Fast Drying Primer Undercoat.
4) A word of warning. I once felt a piece of furniture I’d painted a beautiful blue could do with one last coat of varnish before delivery. I applied a matt acrylic varnish last thing at night for speed of drying (there was an oil based finish beneath). The next morning the cabinet was green! Eek!
Awesome knowledge! Thanks for taking the time to share that with us all Linda. Appreciate it. Good to know about the Dulux Fast Drying Primer Undercoat, I shall keep an eye on that next time and try their water based eggshell as i’ve got A LOAD of woodwork to paint on our landing.
I’ve still not gotten my head around different brushes for different paints etc.. but then i’m not a decorator. You’re not wrong when you say it’s a minefield. It really is!
A look at paint performance for the DIY market is long overdue but to read your professional experiences make for sobering reading. The outlay for paint is often a large part of the budget and we all want the perfect result. I also use Zinsser BIN shellac primer for furniture re-vamps but may start using it on some skirting I need to do. I have used the Dulux waterbased satinwood with the Dulux primer over previously gloss painted doors. I am lucky enough to have a Dulux decorators centre close by and they always ask about the project and advise on what you need to use. The doors are great but the skirting has chipped in places. I will now only use it if I get back to raw wood.
This is good to know, Trish, thanks. I do like Dulux as I always get good advice from their trade counters. Funny how your skirting board has chipped but not your doors. Just goes to show just how much wear our skirtings get I guess!
Strangely one colour of Dulux satinwood was fine but the other has chipped, streaked, peeled, you name it! This is one bare surfaces, primed, sanded down, straight on top, a whole mixed bag. Both were colour mixes, not off the shelf, so don’t know if it was one bad batch? By a 50% success rate.
Wish someone had alerted the previous owners of my flat, too – they painted every single architrave to jazz up the place to sell and they’re ALL peeling, it comes off in sheets! (Don’t get me started on their decision to do the kitchen in non-kitchen non-scrubbable no-name magnolia; I’m about to start over with Farrow & Ball so will watch out for the paintbrush issue.)
That’s so weird, did you go back and tell them what happened?
I’m too lazy to ever sort stuff like that out! I will say their colour-mixed wall emulsion is totally fine and looks great.
A friend of mine was renovating a house and had exactly the same problems, she didn’t want to sand down and strip all the woodwork and did a bit of research …B.I.N BY Zinser (or however it’s spelt!) fit the bill. No need for sanding, you just apply this primer and you can paint straight over it with a water based paint!!
Excellent! Thanks Rebecca. That’s two mentions for this product now. Good to know!
Just used the recommended (by the local paint specialist shop) Zinsser primer on mdf and it went on a dream….then put F&B estate eggshell on top, also as recommended….29 hours and still not dry.
The old problems of this estate eggshell have not gone away….avoid it like the plague
This is hugely helpful, thank you!
And also explains why I had a heck of a game trying to paint a fire surround with F&B eggshell this weekend… Gah, how many coats before it wasn’t a streaky old mess?!
I’m going to have to give that Zinser product a try! 🙂
Really great post. We have used the oil based little greene eggshell for the last 4 years with no issues and cover stain for the undercoat/primer which is also made by Zinsser. We have used white and have recently repainted one room and redid the skirting boards that took a hammering after carpets were fitted. The fresh coat of white paint is the same colour as the other woodwork in the room which was done over 3 years ago, there hasn’t been any yellowing at all.
Great article, I live with an ‘expert’ works with paint manufacturers, his ethos is prep, prep and prep again! Sand, prime and undercoat he says! Zinser are good and would recommend, but aswell always go for trade paint, they still do oil based, never buy paint from the ‘sheds’. All our white gloss still looks good.
I bought a brand new house 3 years ago. All woodwork has been done in water based Dulux trade. It was colour “matched” to all the selected Little Greene paint colours throughout , urgh.
I would describe the wood finishes as delicate. The window sills/boards scratch or mark very easily and I am often doing touch ups. On the other hand I do love being able to clean the brushes in water.
I recently had one of the rooms repainted- walls not wood-because of a water leak and bought the proper Little Greene stuff. Amazing difference – I love the subtle colour and the finish so much more than the Dulux.
Excellent article – I made the error of doing 3 floors of ornate bannisters in water-based F&B woodwork paint on top of original oil based, and it peeled like crazy. I had to sand back and so the whole lot again in oil based paint. Gutting!
Now I stick to deluxe oil based satinwood – either in white which does not yellow, or I get it mixed in the colour I need. Although it stinks and takes 16 hours per coat to dry, it is tough and durable, which is what eggshell and gloss is supposed to be – I have not found any water based oil/eggshell/woodwork paint which is tough enough yet.
You can get BIN paint in the UK via amazon, I use their primer/stain blocker and it is amazing. But don’t drop any anywhere you don’t want it to be, it is a killer to remove.
Well that certainly explains a lot! Thankfully I only used white water based over white oil based so although it’s a little ‘peely’ it’s only on a cupboard door in the kitchen which I will look at sanding back some day and using oil based again. It’s also great to know about the other brands as I was planning on repainting a couple of walls. Think I shall be looking into Little Greene when I repaint my blue wall darket. Thanks for the heads up on this as even the decorators I’ve used have never understood this. I spoke to two and they both had different opinions but not one explained the implications! I’ll do it myself from now on.
The US podcast The Chaise Lounge has a few good discussions on paint as one of its sponsors is Benjamin Moore.
It’s directed at interior designers , with lots of famous and not so famous US designers being interviewed. I’m a client rather than a designer but I find it fascinating. Great to listen to in the car.
Another vote for Zinnser BIN, it’s fantastic. I’ve bought it in B&Q and in Brewers. For a different issue their Peel Stop is also great – my first house had layer upon layer of paint on lining paper on laffin plaster walls, so this saved a fortune in prepping the surface well enough to paint without stripping and re-plastering.
late to the party on this one sorry but finally had a chance to read. great post.
have to concur that my decorator swears by Zinsser and uses it for literally everything that needs priming. we’ve even used it on radiators (which was a worry as these heat up and cool down etc) and tiles and the paint seems to stick.
I wish I’d read this 4 years ago when I painted F&B eggshell onto laminate kitchen cupboards! I used B&Q primer that said it was suitable for painting on laminate as I’d read that painting directly on top of laminate could be an issue. I specifically asked the sales assistant in F&B if I needed their primer and she said no, any primer would do. Two days later I picked up one of the cupboard doors to do a second coat and the paint came off on my hands – it hadn’t dried after 48 hours and was slightly bubbled all over! Nobody at b&q or F&B could advise, F&B helpline said I should have used their primer (and claimed the SA would never have told me not to use it!) in the end the paint eventually dried after about a week, so I gently sanded it to remove the bubbles, primed again with F&B primer and then painted again. I did a four step process with a few doors that hadn’t been started – laminate primer, F&B primer, paint. That worked and the cabinets have held up okay, not perfect though. I have since used F&B primer and eggshell paint straight on to old gloss paint on window frames and skirting done by previous owner and have had no problems with peeling or chipping. Incidentally, I was interested in trying Little Greene paint after the first F&B debacle, but the only local supplier charges £10 per paint sample, and I never got a straight answer on whether he was supplying LG paint or colour matching in other paint – and my experience of colour matching has been that it isn’t matched at all – so I decided I couldn’t afford it.
great post – really interesting because in my house I have to worry about the husband’s wheelchair and crutches constantly bashing the walls and woodwork so I need something durable. Our decorator doesn’t like using F&B, he claims that using good old Dulux or Crown is the best way forward.
Agree with the above comments: Zinsser B.I.N. is a great primer. Because it’s shellac-based, I use methylated spirits to clean brushes afterwards (turps/white spirits only work on oil-based products).
Zinsser BIN works wonders and sticks to everything, but high in voc. 500g/lt
Low voc = less than 50g/lt
Zero voc = less than 5g/lt
F&B Estate Eggshell is hybrid alkyd, oil resin in water and their own undercoat/primer should be used or disasters could prevail (as mentioned in thread)
Water based eggshell will need an appropriate u/c to adhere properly to previous (old) painted surfaces.
Re discoloration – purchase a paint that is UV resistant.
Great post. Thanks.
I am planning to paint a big in-built wardrobe in my bedroom in Timeless white (same colour as the walls) and my painter advised using oil-based paint for it (due to a better smoother finish). We have mixed the oil-based Timeless Satinwood paint in the Dulux Decorator centre and the painter has already applied Zinsser primer and oil-based Dulux undercoat.
Having read the reviews about the oil-based paints, I am now concerned about the wardrobe turning yellow in some time 🙁
Do you think I should re-paint it with the water-based undercoat and then paint with Water-based Dulux Timeless (while it is not too late)?
Great post. Thanks.
I am planning to paint a big in-built wardrobe in my bedroom in Timeless white (same colour as the walls) and my painter advised using oil-based paint for it (due to a better smoother finish). We have mixed the oil-based Timeless Satinwood paint in the Dulux Decorator centre and the painter has already applied Zinsser primer and oil-based Dulux undercoat.
Having read the reviews about the oil-based paints, I am now concerned about the wardrobe turning yellow in some time 🙁
Do you think I should re-paint it with the water-based undercoat and then paint with Water-based Dulux Timeless (while it is not too late)?
Hard to say really. I’d call the Dulux mixing centre and ask them directly for their advice. All oil based painted will change over time very slightly, but as Timeless is an off white already, I don’t think you would notice as much as you would with white.
Hi I want to paint wooden cupboard doors in a grey colour (not dark) have u got any recommendations? I’ve sanded them very well. I really need help as I’m not an experienced painter.
I have used water based paint for years now and in most cases find it superior to the old oil based products. There are a few riles to follow though.
1. Rub down gloss surfaces to give a good key for new paint.
2. Clean well, I recommend sugar soap followed by plain water.
3. If wood is dark or resinous seal with a shellac based sealer. Button polish has an alcohol solvent and stops colour bleeding through the paint.
4. Use a good quality synthetic bristle brush and moisten it first. Not too wet though! I prefer Hamilton’s perfection – dearer but worth it. Use the largest brush you can to speed up application.
5. Use one coat of primer/undercoat and two of gloss or eggshell. Do not over brush as the paint dries fast. I have found cheap brands of primer to be virtually as good as dear ones but cheap gloss not so good.
6. For large areas, e.g. doors, wipe with a damp sponge immediately before painting so surface is slightly moist. This will extend the time the paint is workable and enable you to get a better finish.
I have found that water based white gloss in my house is still virtually as white as new after eight years and wears quite well. Outside it seems more durable on fascias and soffits than oil paint and does not yellow as fast. It seems to flex with the wood better and not crack. The Farrow and Ball Estate Eggshell on my kitchen units still looks as good as new after over three years of hard use and regular cleaning. The paint dries fast and does not stink, brushes wash out easily with water – what more can you ask for?
You must work for farrow and ball….
Thanks for this blog. I have just had the whole house decorated and it is looking old and fast. Coverage is not great on woodwork with natural wood tones smiling through and chips as soon as looked at! Decorator added coat after coat. Still not good so, I am now off to buy some little green and work through all the paint work and recover myself.
Zinsser BIN is great but not always necessary. Good prep will be enough in most cases including a clean with meths.
Going from oil to water I always use Zinsser 123, it’s bullet proof and never let me down, also a one hour recoat.
Benjamin Moore wood paints are superb now, there is the Aura range and Advance which are getting major love over here. They also do many primers which are awesome too.
If you keep to a system and follow prep guide lines then most water based systems are fine.
Some yellow slowly, some don’t.
Bedec Aqua advanced system stays white and is very durable, also sikkens provides an excellent finish and stays white.
Food for thought.
Traditionalpainter.com have also commented on different brand paints since 2010. That year was a line in the sand for ‘before VOC’ and ‘after VOC’. Manufacturers have been very hit and miss. Little Greene’s paint is great for woodwork, and as it is a ‘known’ paint to me I will continue to use it, and perhaps when not so busy shall try a few others, such as ‘Benjamin Moore’ but it is a brand I’ve not heard of. I always use Zinsser 123 and agree with the comment above, and there is a Zinsser for any surface, regardless of what has been painted on it before. I used it over linseed oil paint and the results have been spectacular. Another brand of paint to consider for exterior wood is Sherwin Williams. It has a great finish. I also understand that some of the Swedish paints are amazing, and they are also available over here.
Thanks for the heads up re Sikkens white. That’s one shade that is usually problematic as the oil based ones usually yellow and the water based ones are no good imho.
Post Script to my post above. Reading through the comments above, it is evident that there are lots of unhappy people out there regarding the quality of water based wood paints these days. However, before all the VOC milarky, I discovered ‘Ecos’ paint, now trading under the name of Lakeland Paints (www.lakelandpaints.co.uk). I have never used anything else for walls since I discovered them. Their wall paints are absolutely amazing, and cover beautifully. They can get a bit thick in warm weather, but I use Floetrol to sort that out – this is available from good paint sellers by the way, or I think it can be bought on line. The end finish is very wow. I also want to point out that I am a veteran DIYer, and cut my teeth on our first house in 1972 when we first married. Since then, I’ve only had my house painted by someone else once, and that is when I moved to my new place in 2006 and a professional painter did it. My daughter is an amazing painter, and she is now redoing most of my house inside, and is shocked at discover of lack of standards by said professional. So, I did something right….teach my kids to decorate to a high standard!!!
Over the last few years we’ve had terrible problems with emulsion as well. Two different houses, different surfaces, different paint manufacturers etc and it’s driven us nuts. We’ve had paint literally slipping off walls (well-known good reputation brand – at least previously!), streaking, terrible brush stroking visible, patchy drying, then within weeks or months marking terribly or beginning to look as if it hasn’t been painted for 20years etc etc. Absolute nightmare – never known this to happen with the old paints, both of us coming from families who self-decorated. This has all started with modern paints. Solution in new house – having tried the painting, the decorator is now anaglypta-ing everything in sight and then painting which so far seems to be working. We have masses of unpainted woodwork here which we decided to leave as is, so I’m slowly cleaning it all up and revarnishing it – that sorts out that problem. Having read your comments, I am so relieved we didn’t decide to paint the woodwork!! I’m nearly demented with the emulsions. As far as we’re concerned, modern paint and the painting industry is a big rip-off – and it’s double the problem when one is not in good health and trying to decorate is really exhausting anyway. The industry must be reaping the rewards of people having to re-do decorating so many times and that really annoys me.
I do want to re-paint one cupboard door etc under the stairs, changing to gloss so will certainly look at Little Green paint – forewarned is fore-armed (can’t face trying to clean up lousy gloss paint!). However, we live in what is deemed to be a ‘remote’ area so knowing our luck won’t be able to source it anyway without massive delivery premiums! Since the door is already painted with matt emulsion, do you know if the Little Green paint will cover it OK or would we need to put something else on first?
I’ve now looked at the Little Green website and they don’t do the colour I want, so that’s solved that question!
I forgot to say that we knew someone who used Farrow and Ball on their front door – within 18 months it was just bobbling and peeling off. oCmpletely useless, not to mention very pricey! It didn’t endear us to it even if we could have afforded it!
I am a professional painter&decorator,i can only comment on the paints i have used.On water based gloss for instance, avoid it like the plague!One only has to look at it & it falls off,hard wearing it is not.,you cannot brush it out,so cutting in is a no-no.Yes, you can use masking tape,but i was taught the proper way,so masking a 12 pane Georgian style door is out of the question unless money&time are not a consideration. Modern emulsions are another bug-bear for us painters,quick drying, yes they are,but again they cannot be brushed out.As you say,no-one told us the formulation of the paints was going to change,so when i first encountered the new”improved”quick drying emulsions,i thought some clever dick had been spraying dust around the room i was painting.Grrrrrr!!
I would be inclined to agree when talking about some of the cheaper paints on the market but I have generally found the better quality ones to be perfectly acceptable. It is true that the gloss does not have the sheen of an oil paint but overall I believe the benefits outweigh the drawbacks. Forget all you knew about painting and start again with new tools and techniques and, of course, a good quality paint. The white gloss on my outside woodwork has not peeled or flaked and is still a good white after six years of weathering. What oil paint would be intact and not yellowing after six years of sun and rain? Inside it is still going strong after nine years on the stairs. My solid wood kitchen was painted with water based paint four years ago and with a wash down with a mild detergent looks as good as new. With a lot of home baking that really takes a beating but has surpassed my expectations.
Could you let us know which paint you used? Thanks
I find that Zinsser bullseye 123 works well as a base on virtually all surfaces and for white gloss I use Dulux ecosure. For coloured paints my first choice has always been Farrow and Ball, which is very durable and hard wearing. Don’t forget to use a synthetic bristle brush that has been moistened and to wipe the surface to be painted with a damp cloth immediately before painting. Do not over brush the paint or you will have major problems! The technique is very different from oil based paints but once mastered gives good results.
I am also a pro decorator with over 45 years in the trade and I whole heartily agree with your post. Customers pay us good money for a first class job and we seem to be let down by inferior finishes.Pleased I am retiring in a couple of years, Rant over..
I found your blog after the disaster!
The kitchen and hall doors haven’t been glossed for some time.
In ignorance I rubbed down and painted the kitchen door with Crown Solo White Gloss.
It was mid afternoon when I started and still wasn’t dry when i went to bed at 11am.
This morning when I looked I was horrified at the mess.
It looks yellow, some of it hasn’t taken and there a big white patches. it’;s run too!!
Then I read about painting over old gloss surfaces and realised what had happened.
Iv’e just gone out and bought the Zinsser BIN shellac primer and Dulux Pure Brilliant White Satinwood to go on top.
It’s still not dry yet and it’s 12 noon, almost 24 hours on!!
Let’s hope the Zinsser and Satinwood work.
I’ll let you know.
I have long suspected paint ain’t wot it used to be. Recently I had cause to redecorate my bathroom. The last time it was done was around ten years ago. Not bad service you may think. This time I looked around for some quality paint but was confused with what was on the market. As it happened I inherited some cans of paint from my late mother’s estate. (Aka coal shed!) I discovered a full tin of white gloss paint manufactured by ‘Crown’ paints. The tin is rusted on the outside and must be at the very least 15 years old. Anyway I remembered the advice given to me years ago that the finished surface of the painted article is only as good as the start. So I set to with coarse grade multi purpose sanding paper. By hand. I rubbed down the window frame and door casing. When I opened the tin of paint there was a layer of what looked like liquid oil floating on the surface of the paint sludge. I mixed it up thoroughly with an old screw driver until it became a uniform white. After painting the woodwork there was the familiar smell of wet paint. A smell I had almost forgotten from my youthful days. But the finish was superlative. It was the satisfying result that brought me to this web page. I wanted to know what the ‘oil’ was. Perhaps I could replicate it in future paint jobs. Now after that preamble I wish to say that I loved the colour scheme of the photos in this article. As I trolled through the various rooms I could tangibly feel the warmth emanating from the computer screen. Such professional arrangement of colours and equally professional photographs. The addition of a black cat in one of them added a touch of realism. The aerial shot of the opened tins of paint was another. I could readily live in the rooms of this electronically created house!
I have just discovered this site by chance searching for answers after being brought to despair by the lousy finish I have been getting on a wooden door using Dulux Quick Dry Satinwood Mid Sheen pure brilliant white. The door was a new, unpainted one and I used a combined primer & undercoat. I think my technique is somewhat to blame – I was using the technique taught to me by my dad 40+ years ago, so was over-brushing. My question is, I am so sick of it that I would like to over-paint this mess with an oil-based paint (the Little Greene stuff seems to be very good from reading the previous posts) – can I just paint over the water-based Dulux with an oil-based paint or is this just a recipe for a different disaster? As several other people have said, I only wish I’d read this blog before I started!
Whatever you do you will need to sand back the current paint finish in order for your next coat to take. Water based or quick drying paints have much less working time, so you have little time for “laying off” with the brush. Leaving brush marks etc if you over work the paint.
Make sure whatever primer/undercoat you use has the same base as your top coat. So either go waterbased for everything, or solvent based. Buying paint from the big sheds is pretty confusing. If I were you i’d pop down to your local Dulux Trade counter and ask them for some advice at this point. Good luck Paul!
would putting in just a wee touch of black into white oil based gloss enough to just knock it off the brilliant white but still looks white to the eye be an answer to the yellowing of the oil based problem
I’ve always used cheap paints but decided to buy dulux.i bought Dulux pure brilliant white self undercoating oil based paint 2 years ago and it still looks brand new with no chips.
Very expensive but worth it
Hello All ,
Ive found this a most informative and interesting site which has answered many questions . I know by reading this and other blogs / sites that the general rule of thumb when painting internal wood is that oil on oil or water based on water based is the ideal combination but I wonder if anyone can answer this question . I will be painting my MDF laminated / wrapped kitchen cupboard doors soon , I will be of course degreasing them first using sugar soap . I was thinking about using Zinsser 123 primer which I believe is water based ( for more ease of use ) instead of the BIN , followed by 2 x coats of Little Greene oil based eggshell ( sanding between coats ) . I have read somewhere that the 123 contains latex which acts as a barrier between the oil and water based products and would like to know if this is true / possible .
I have only just discovered the Zinsser primers and they are brilliant. You are right that the Zinsser BIN is an oil based primer whilst the 123 is water-based. The Zinsser BIN can be used with both a water-based or an oil-based top coat. I have used it with both Little Greene Intelligent eggshell,which is water-based, and with their floor paint which is oil-based. I was told by Brewers that the BIN is ideal for surfaces where varnishes have been used or on woods with high resin content, hence I used it on some oak units that had been previously varnished. The 123 has lower solvent content so is better for your health but I wonder whether you should be using the BIN given that you’re using an oil-based eggshell on top – a quick call to Zinsser who are really helpful might solve the problem. One other tip that Little Greene told me about is that kitchen companies using their water-based intelligent eggshells on their units often apply a coat of Polyvine heavy duty wood varnish http://www.polyvine.com/index.php/en/varnishes/water-based-varnishes/heavy-duty-wood-varnish#slider to prevent chips. I hope I haven’t confused things!
I realise this is an old article – but relevant nonetheless – I have tried the modern paints and like most modern creations they are simply not up to the job – I still go out of my way to find real solvent based paints for any woodwork around my house – it gives a far superior finish that just isn`t achievable with “modern” paints – it can be a pain using “real” gloss due to drying times etc or kids being in the house but for myself it is not as much of a pain as trying to get a decent finish with the new types of paint…just my opinion and felt the need to give it…thanks for the article.
I have been using oil based wood paints for over 40 years. There is NOTHING left to compare with the old “Dulux Trade” undercoat for both coverage and brushing out – not to mention its hard finish, which could be sanded after 12 hours or so! All water based paint has the advantage of easy use and cheapness – but that is ALL. It will be a substitute for good quality oil based paint. And, of course, the two paints can NEVER be used together.
You only get a SOFT FINISH and poor BRUSHING OUT with the new “Dulux” paints. These are NOT the old ‘ICI’ products, but a far inferior, imported product – read the tin carefully!. That is why it ‘yellows’ and dries slowly to a soft finish.
You don’t need a CSE in ‘Business Studies’ to work out what has happened in the paint industry. An obvious massive ‘asset stripping’ operation, using a “European Regulation”, has been used by a big foreign operator to close down all British (and many foreign producers too) paint producers.
If there was a ‘like’ button, i’d Be pressing it!
I’m decorating our new log cabin and dearly wanted to create a pinky 1990’s limed oak kitchen colour on the interior walls. (I love to see the natural wood but want a subtle pinky cosy feel rather than any of the traditional wood stains)
So I was planning to do a very thin coat of watered down dusky pink emulsion, followed by liming wax.
However, now that we’ve used a fire retardant coating it seems we have to use a solvent based product on the wood – water based products react badly with the coating underneath.
I need to find a way of doing the pinky wash coat in a solvent based product.
Any ideas please?
Me and my husband moved into an old house. We sanded all the skirting, doors, door frames and stair rail and then painted it in white eggshell.
Unfortunately the lady at the decorator center gave me water base eggshell which I painted everything in.
It started chipping immediately. I didn’t know that it was because we were putting waterbased eggshell onto of previous oilbased gloss.
I didn’t prime, I had never decorated anything before so just went with what the lady gave me…
Now I’m trying to sand it off and it’s not coming off, it’s just smoothing it down…But if I scratch it with my nail it flakes off instantly. I’m well confused… What do I do? Do I sand it to the best of my ability then prime and start again or does all the previous eggshell that I put on need to fully come off first?.. There is years worth of gloss underneath so just feeling hopeless about the sanding
Try a heat gun and scraper
I am having a similar problem as I have just moved into a house so I don’t know what the previous occupants used. The skirtings and bannisters are chipped and peeling but when I tried to sand it down it went all mushy so I suspect it is a water based product. It has also been applied very thick.
So does anyone have advice on how to prep badly applied previous water based products.
Sanding doesn’t work. Do heat guns work on water based ? I didn’t really want to strip it completely but are there any other options
I moved into a flat over a year ago and want to repaint all the discoloured woodwork Skirting boards and doors. My plan is to paint it with non yellowing gloss paint possibly Johnstone’s Quick Dry Gloss but I’m unsure what sort of undercoat to use first. Will the undercoat affect the gloss in time?
To satisfactorily recoat your woodwork, you must seal the old wood/paint. This can only be done with a proper oil based paint. The water based (plastic) paints will never seal out old resinous surfaces, like wood.
You should also look a little more carefully at the reason for the introduction of the “VOC” regulations.
I lived in the USA for 16 years and went water-based in 2008. Benjamin Moore is the paint I used over there and you can buy it here now. It is fabulous paint, they are light years ahead of the UK in WB technology. Similar price point to F&B and Little Greene. Their primer is wonderful too.
The Scandanavian countries produce excellent paint as well. Tikurilla for example.
When doing the change from oil to water, Zinsser BIN is a godsend. It’s a shellac based tinted primer, smells a bit but will stick to the oil and provide a bridge for the WB. Good cleaning is also important. People use silicone based spray polish to clean with and it gets everywhere. As we know, nothing sticks to silicone!
Great article! Not enough information out there
I’ve enjoyed reading this article and the many comments. I was Googling for advice on using water based paint for furniture following a less than satisfactory experience with Little Greene oil based eggshell. I used Zinsser BIN primer over factory finished pine that had been sanded and sugar soaped. BIN retains brush marks no matter how quick you are. I used Owatrol with the LG eggshell, Wooster brushes and roller for application. I struggled to get a good finish hence my exploring WB paints.
I’ve had good results painting inside woodwork (previously done with either WB or OB paints) by using Leyland Trade OB brilliant white primer and Leyland Trade Brilliant White eggshell. I always sand well to create a key and degrease etc.
Well that’s a blow, after moving into a house that has stairs and balustrade made from some kind of darkish hardwood and finished in a rosewood stain that I fully intend to renovate and finish in an “old English white”, which is really another term for a non bright white and use the sandpaper, soapwater, Zinser Bin method and LG oil paint top coat until that is, I read the comment before mine from DV about a less than satisfactory experience using this.Mind you there are other positive comments about LG oil eggshell to consider, or before I read this very informative post, dare I say the F&B method of using their undercoat and eggshell way of doing things.
Hmmmm, gets confusing…
Not sure what to do for the best now as I don’t want a time consuming clean up operation if things don’t go according to plan.
I am going to have to dip my toe and make a decision but who do I go with to give me the results I am after, decisions, decisions ??
There is ALOT more to paint than most people realise. If you see the work of a highly knowledgeable professional painter you will see why. I am not a professional painter, I’m a furniture maker, but wanted to learn more about painting for built in furniture, I bought a small xvlp sprayer too. I was lucky to get plenty of advice from some real professionals on instagram.
It is a minefield, you even need to have the correct type of brush to get the best results with certain types of paints.
A few pointers/tips/products I have been given are:
Krud cutter gloss off – comes in a spray, scrub it on wipe it off it chemically etches gloss paint for better adhesion of the primer.
As Karen has said you have to prime first. look at: caparol (haft primer), Tikkurila (otex akva), Benjamin Moore (scuffs).
Look at the same brands as above for topcoat. Pu, helmi, aura respectively. All can be mixed in virtually any colour.
Karen – if you haven’t already you should get on one of the Benjamin’s Moore colour training courses, they are more well known in the states and do some amazing colours, and are just starting to make inroads in the uk 🇬🇧 but it is expensive stuff.
Invest in a decent brush too and look after it!
Hi Karen and all,
after a very frustrating afternoon and evening spent looking for some oil based dark grey satin finish paint (that I dont need to get a bank loan to buy) I decided to look online to ask the very same question… what is going on with paint !.
Internal stairwells to repaint. I want a nice smooth finish, not one that looks like I painted it with emulsion.
Farrow and Ball, ok for the gutter line woodwork job I have just completed but no way am I going to use it internally. It is basically emulsion with added varnish after all. My customer went on about F&B’s 5 year warranty. 5 YEAR’S. I would expect oil based to last a lot longer than that. I’m going to try the Sandtex satin finish exterior(with a ten year warranty !)
As a specialist painter, I always use oil based paint on ceilings (flat oil paint) walls and woodwork. It lasts for years, still looks good and is extremely tough.I have used eggshell paint on staircase walls recently,to cope with the associated wear and tear,and it doesn’t mark despite numerous guests coming and going.A top coat of dead flat varnish will give a non shiny finish. I have recently been introduced to Zinnzer BIN, and used it on stripped pine doors,all new woodwork,and stair spindles. It took 3coats but doesn’t need any other paint on the top. Preparation is about 80% of the job!
Has anyone used Littlegreen floor paint? Thinking of painting my old oiled wooden floors (1,000 Sq Ft). Will sand back and prime first. Or would I get away with using Krud cutter, prime and then paint? Have researched online and LG seems to be the way to go. Read that F&B chips easily.
Yes I’ve used LG floor paint. We painted an oak staircase with it and even after we’d sanded, primed and put two coats on it started chipping after a couple of weeks. BUT, then we touched it up and coated the whole thing in Polyvine heavy duty matt varnish (which the LG technical people suggested) and it hasn’t chipped since.
Hope that helps.
Thank you so much for your advice Natasha. Will certainly consider the Polyvine varnish now.
I can recommend Craig and Rose water-based paints – they’re one of the oldest paint manufacturers in the UK. Their stuff used to be in Homebase, but these days it is mostly sold mailorder through their site.
My kitchen was old Crown oil Satin, I sanded off the rough bits, Zinsser BIN’d it, then Craig and Rose White Primer followed by C&R Pantry White – a year on, no yellowing, looks great and is a tough combo.
I’ve also got a pine-lined bathroom – that was just plain wood, which was given C&R primer and then Acrylic – 6 years on, it’s fine.
They recommend 7 days for full hardening of their wood system. It is lovely stuff to apply too – great paint.
Oh and their chalky emulsion is certainly one of the best on the market – gives a tough but chalky-looking finish.
I don’t work for them, but I now pretty much choose them over anything else.
I use brilliant white kitchen and bathroom paint, in a satin/mid sheen finish to paint all my wood work and doors. Looks like eggshell, once it hardens properly after 1 to 2 weeks, nearly impossible to scratch/mark. Used with a water based undercoat over oil based paints and varnishes. Been doing this for years and it always stays white. Ive used dulux/crown and even homebases own and all been fine. For a smoother last coat, water it down a bit.
[…] Continue applying the solution until all the latex paint has been removed from your carpet. • Water-based paint – For water-based paint, all you need to do is blot the stained area with water or vinegar. You […]
My 2 most favourite paints are Little Greene and Craig and Rose ( cheaper and gorgeous on the walls ) I used to adore F&B until they sold out and changed their recipe ( ask Brewers about that !) now I find it can be patchy, needs 3 coats and you can’t touch up without leaving a mark! I am done with them. Even National Trust no longer use them. Craig and Rose was used on Brighton Pavillon and Longleat to name a few. Lovely chalky finish. I use LG for woodwork though. C&R eggshell is acrylic based ( Ive not tried it yet) Homebase sell their paint! Testers 1/2 price of the LG which I find rather expensive … Gee make a smaller pot LG!
Aaaaaggggghhh my goodness, I thought I was going mad.
I just don’t know where to start…..I wanted my hall, stairs and landing redecorated. It has 13 doors, 5 with windows above, a daydo rail and skirting. I couldn’t face doing the woodwork myself but was happy to emulsion the top part of the wall and wallpaper the bottom half of the wall myself.
I call in a local chap who does decorating. Told him I wanted satin finish, had a moan about being fed up that only after a year or 2 paint going off colour etc. He said he had worked the Crown Trade Satin finish and that he liked it. He got the paint, started and completed the work and left. I wasn’t keen on the finish as it was really Matt and any of my previous satinwood paintwork had a slight sheen. I was even convinced he has used the wrong stuff and went to retrieve the empty tin but it did say ‘Satinwood’. It also gave me goosebumps when I touched it. What made me hate it even more was when I had emulsioned and went back to wipe off any mistakes the paint just wiped off!!!! I was mortified and so fed up.
Your post now makes total sense and I can see what has happened.
Now I feel I have myself an even bigger problem to resolve rather than just painting the whole lot myself in the first place! Tempted to just go and buy solvent based satinwood (Dulux trade seems to keep white the longest) and go over the lot again but just can’t face it as I know I should prep the whole lot again too. :((
if you add a little bit of black gloss to your white oil based gloss make sure to use same brand measure with teaspoon so you don’t get mixed up it can stop from it discolouring. or crown trade next generation undercoat and gloss is very good for holding it’s whiteness but it’s not as good as dulux trade high gloss and hasn’t got as much sheen.
Wonderful, wonderful post and comments. Been watching a Canadian morning show on YouTube and their interior designer always mentions Benjamin Moore paints and they have an outlet in the UK now.
Yes! You can read more about my experience with BM paints here: https://blog.making-spaces.net/2019/03/12/benjamin-moore-paintlikenoother/
They’re now an Interior Design Collective trade partner (i’m the co founder)
Best water based paints I’ve used is Johnstones Trade Aqua satin (or gloss). It must be the ones labelled as “Aqua” you use, I buy on Amazon 2,5 litres at z time. Goes on a treat, almost like an oil based paint. With care you can get a great finish. I’ve used different undercoat under it, all water based and had no issues. In fact, recently painted some old fitted wardrobe doors with it and looking at then you’d swear they were sprayed in a factory, it’s that good ( as long as you properly sand and sugar soap the old finish)
Hi Karen, I’ve only just found your blog and thought I’d mention about an awful time I had with Crown water based satin at Christmas. My house is 100 years old and hasn’t seen paint in 40 years in most rooms. My porch has wood panelling to between waist and chest height. I spent a day priming everything with Zinser BIN and then a day undercoating with Crown water based. I didn’t have time to top coat it right away and came back to it 2 days later. It was completely covered in what looked like dirty yellow runs. It looked like the VOC’s (there are still small amounts in water based) had separated from the paint and then run. I ended up having to spend a day sanding, a day repriming and another day undercoating with an oil based paint just to get back to where I was. I much prefer using water based paint as it’s easier to clean, it also doesn’t yellow as quickly due to the greatly reduced VOC content but like you I can’t see myself buying it again any time soon.
Just found this great thread – I thought it was just me!
A little while ago I laboriously stripped and sanded all the woodwork in my hall/stairs/landing and porch – removing years of old gloss paint. It took literally months. Then primed all of it as usual and got out my trusty tin of Dulux Satinwood (Almond White). Got halfway down the stairs when the tin ran out, down to the store to buy another. Noticed as soon as I started using it that it was different – both to work with and a noticeably different finish, with less coverage. After a closer look realised that this, was due to the new tin being water based instead of my old oil based one. Not to worry – I finished the job.
You may have guessed the result! I’d primed the whole lot with oil based primer and never dreamed that this would cause a problem with the water based over coat, but of course it started chipping and flaking almost immediately – especially when they fitted the new stair carpet. Gaping holes all the way up with the grey primer showing through – ugh.
So what do I do now? I went to my local Dulux centre and they did me (at great expense!) a tin of colour matched Trade Satinwood which is oil based. I should strip it all off and start again, but with a new carpet and newly papered walls I guess I’ll try rubbing down the holes and painting over with the oil based and see how it looks. But I’m gutted after all that hard work!
If professional decorators are confused about this how on earth are us poor old DIYers supposed to know what to do? It really is a minefield.
Just about to start the spare bedroom – fortunately not much woodwork, just windowsill and skirtings so should have plenty in my tin of oil based!
I’ve posted here in the past but Alison’s post resonated. I think it is wise to use one of the multi purpose primers that will take either oil or water based undercoat/topcoat then your options are open. I did hall/stairs/landing refurbishment where the original coat for the woodwork had been brown varnish. There were layers of various paints including some early one coat water based gloss. I burned off some aresa and rubbed the rest down smooth. I primed the bare areas with the Zinsser shellac primer and decided to use oil based undercoat and satin to avoid the problems experienced by Alison and others.
I am so happy to have found this article and posts on here as we are about to paint our cottage windows once again, we last used Farrow and Ball and were extremely disappointed as the paint peeled off rather quickly…….it was a high glass paint believe.
I would be grateful if anyone could advise on a nice grey paint for our cottage windows as we live in the National Park, and have just fitted graphite grey exterior doors to our cottage which was built in 1660
Thank You in anticipation
You can still have the colour you want in the F&B colour chart but mixed in a more robust paint system especially designed for the harsh environment. A good example of this is: https://www.teknos.com/en-GB/
Here is a thing. Ive had the exact same tearful problem over super shiny old gloss in the kitchen of my renovated house with Little Greene intelligent eggshell over its own undercoat.
This house hadn’t been painted for years and years (70s I guess) so I expect it was probably even lead paint. Even scraped all the paint back, sanded it within an inch of its life and it still peeled. However, in the living room, I used Annie Sloan Chalke paint over the exact same shiny woodwork. It covered and grabbed on great but its useless to clean etc. When I used LG intelligent eggshell and its undercoat over the Chalke it worked a dream. The Chalke must have grabbed onto the gloss and made a great undercoat. Bonkers
Im going to try Deluxe trade super grip surface prime in the kitchen as I have just bought a load of Intelligent LG and don’t want to waste it.
After reading this blog however I will order the oil based eggshell for the hallway. Thanks for the brilliant advice.
Great article, and now I know why some woodwork I primed with an “old” primer before using water-based Dulux Satinwood are prone to peeling… I will have to re-do it but luckily I don’t have too much surface area to address.
But my main gripe about modern satinwood paints are that they seem to have a tackiness to the finish that attracts dirt, old satinwood was much “harder.” This is particularly annoying on areas that get a lot of hand-contact, such as the banister & around door handles.
Is there a modern satinwood (or maybe I should consider eggshell?) that doesn’t suffer from this problem?
The Johnstone’s oil based eggshell seems pretty hardwearing to me.
Thanks David, I’ll give it a try.
The best practice is always to abrade the surface before the application of any layer of paint.
There are multiple benefits to this which include achieving a smoother finish as it will remove previously applied brush marks, bits, nibs or other imperfections (runs etc), but more importantly in this instance, to provide a key for the coating to adhere to.
This goes for applying acrylic water based decorative paint (low VOC paint as described in your article) over fully cured or dried alkyd / oil based paint. In my opinion, the idea that water based paint will not adhere to oil based painted surfaces isn’t quite right although I know where you’re coming from. After the solvent based paint has fully dried the surface coalesces and basically you’re only left with binder and pigments. All the solvents and drying oils have evaporated by this point (which is why these paints emit high levels of VOC’s and are more harmful to the environment). Peeling or flaking paint is usually from a lack of intercoat adhesion and abrading the surface is the most common way of remedying this paint defect. There’s no need to go back to the wood, just remove any gloss or sheen on the previous coat and clean away any residue/debris left from this process. In essence this will remove the hard / tough layer and increase the surface area.
Using Wet and Dry is a good option as the action of regularly rinsing in water helps to keep the abrasive paper from clogging up and reduces the amount of time required to remove the sheen from the previous coat of paint thus providing a more coarse surface for the second layer to adhere to.
Hope this helps 👍
Your article made for some interesting reading and no doubt i’ll revisit it again to read some more of the comments made. You have hit on a point that many have fallen foul of in the past, namely the lack of supplied information by the paint manufacturers. About 12 years ago I came across an acrylic paint by Leyland, a new product that was well worth trying. According to the manufacturer it was described as a non-yellowing quick drying product with little or no odour. Preparation of the surface should be adhered to, it has to be clean from grease and lightly abraded no matter what paint is used. If you were to use an oil based gloss you would prepare the surface correctly, otherwise peel-off would occur and drying time would be affected, so why treat acrylic any different? That said the finished product after using the Leyland showed itself as a semi-gloss and not as a high gloss! But the process was very quick and odour free, which was in itself appreciated by the client. Although drying time was fast, curing time took a little longer at about 4 days, before anything could be placed on the surface. A few clients took the painting of the product upon themselves, but neglected the preparation, therefore if the surface was rubbed it just flaked off! A few years later I noticed that Leyland had brought out an acrylic primer/undercoat, so there must have either been a few complaints or was just a natural progression.
Since then I have used various different quick dry (no idea why they dropped the acrylic label) paints. The majority being poor in quality and finish, apart from a Crown quick dry gloss. This seemed to be much harder wearing than the others and being a fast drying product allows two coats to be applied on the same day (as they all can do). But I keep going back to the Leyland product.
I am waiting till the manufacturers come up with a product that is extremely hard wearing, as most of the time I tend to use quick dry paints on all surfaces apart from the bannisters and newel posts, or anywhere that is in semi-constant contact. No matter how much preparation is done, within a couple of years the paint wears off. Now we can always paint such surfaces again, but most clients don’t want a repaint every two years. So until a new paint comes onto the market, its back to the oil based, smelly, slow drying, slow curing, eventually yellowing, gloss paint for those surfaces.
Only time will tell if all your hard work paid off Karen, fingers crossed it’s longevity is still outstanding.
No one as seem to of mentioned the fact that with the waterbased paints you often need to put on three coats as opacity is no where near as good as oil . Farrow and Ball is one of the worst for opacity . Never more than two coats with oil . Phil the Painter
Best paint blog ever (apart from taking hours out of life reading it all!) Like many others “phew – not just me then, struggling with ‘new’ paints” … Have just used an old (oil) ICI satinwood – B&Q Carousel mix circa 1998 – to do some wardrobe doors, but despite extensive stirring it has come out more ‘mustardy’ in colour than it should have done, & in electric light looks distinctly different yellow from walls – am also awaiting the sun to shine in few days time (allegedly) to compare colour. Walls recently emulsioned using same dulux colour mix as previously used next to the satinwood years ago, when they matched (different house) – it took some time to find code for mix as now has different name, but helpful dulux boffin (or whatever their real name is now…) was able to confirm code & name for new mix after I sent him photos of old tin label which was just still decipherable. So I’m now wondering if emulsion has changed too, since late 90’s, even tho I’m pretty sure the new wall paint ‘Matt wall & ceiling paint’ is same colour as previous, perhaps it reflects light differently now – hence disparity in colour compared to satinwood. In a similar way to experience with water-eggshell (that really requires speed…), the new emulsion didn’t seem to go on nearly as easily as the previous time…Or perhaps I didn’t scrape bottom of satinwood tin enough in the stirring so missed a vital bit of colour – or do the compounds in oil paint sometimes change without being detectable to nose/eye? I also put a coat on radiator, which still seems to be curing after 3 days – i.e. is dry but still strong smelling when radiator comes on – which I suspect can’t be doing me a lot of good, but at least hasn’t knocked me out like applying exterior flat roof paint last year did🙃😷 Is that usual for oil based paint – it’s been a long time since I had to coat a radiator… Hope that’s not all too confusing – new thoughts appreciated 😚P.s. is this meant to be a paint brush ?? 🤳
Interesting and useful. Like you I was an early convert to Valspar wall paints, but disappointed with their wood paint. I have also now taken to using undercoat/primer between old (rubbed down) painted or varnished surface and new water-based paint. As I observed on Facebook – water based paint on old surfaces was no more effective than using milk. As regards oil based paint, many “heritage” buildings locally are now using linseed oil paint. Is this a good long-term solution and is it easy to use?
Great blog. Never knew there was so much to painting.
I need to pick your brain. I want to change my stained outdoor windows and doors from a teak Sadolin and light oak Sikkens to a coloured finish. Most likely green.
I was told I can use an acrylic eggshell outdoor paint but don’t know what preparation I would need or if this type of paint would be suitable.
Any help would be appreciated. Thanks Steve
What would you recommend for kitchen walls? oil based Dulux diamond, or Johnstones acrylic. I’ve always had oil based. I need to wipe the walls down on a monthly basis.
I’ve never used Oil based for walls, that seems a little overkill. We’ve got water based Dulux Diamond Matt in our kitchen and it’s been brilliant for wiping down.
Whatever you use to paint over your oil based painted wall make sure you clean it thoroughly using sugar soap or similar. I think you would then be able to just use a recent white matt emulsion to cover followed by one or two coats of a Dulux or similar quality colour of your choice. You could use Zinsser 123 primer but it seems over the top to me.
Thanks for your great article, I had no idea till now, I will take note!
You mentioned that Valspar paint was new, Karen. Yet I can remember it being used by my uncle back in the 1960’s. I have even used it myself during the late seventies when I had my own first home. I always liked it because my uncles name was Valentine, (Val as everyone called him), and when I was a gullible teen he told me that the paint was specially made for him, Val spar.. lol..
Great article wish I had read this earlier, unfortunatly i went over some existing skirting 3 times with valspar eggshell (trendy grey) as instructed by the missus. carpets fitted today and paint chipped all over the place how do I put this right as just recoating will not solve the issue can I put a primer on top of this new coat and try again (cant see how tbh) p.s b and q never forewarned me which would of been nice when they mixed it up someone asks for an eggshell good chance its going on doors skirting etc plus additional sales for them
Hi Andy, I’d highly recommend using Benjamin Moore Aura Eggshell over the top of your Valpsar disaster. Have a read of this blog post where I repainted our bedroom (previously Valspar) in Benjamin Moore and it’s been fantastic. It’s my go to paint now!
In my opinion, there is no substitute for preparation. Probably another coat of paint will last for a while but the three coats of your Valspar underneath are not adhering properly to the old paint. Invest in a heat gun for future projects 🙂
Very useful article thanks. We have a new porch which I painted with Dulux undercoat. I then attempted to apply Farrow & Ball eggshell. As with your experience this didn’t apply well, so I stopped. I have since ordered Toms Oil Eggshell by Little Greene. Naturally the helpline at Little Greene suggested I also buy their undercoat. This would get a bit expensive so I am hoping it applies OK onto the Dulux.
What do you think?
I’ve just painted over an oil based door with eggshell paint by Dulux. I used a primer first and then I painted over with an water based paint by Dulux and it came out 100% so it’s important to use a primer first
Really helpful post! I had an issue with a client recently after using Farrow and Ball’s water-based egg shell, despite us recommending the oil-based Little Greene egg shell. It just flaked off using your nail, mimicking what would happen should you not sand down the surface properly – making us look like we didn’t know what we were doing. Very frustrating! We since convinced the client to move towards the Little Greene egg shell, and have had no trouble whatsoever.
HI karen, Mark Holden here from sunny Southport,a mature chap!? who has had a career change and become a painter and decorator in the last 12 months……and so glad I have found your site and loved the blog water v oil….brilliant. I try and use oil based paint all the time,usually dulux because it makes the job look lovely. I just cannot get on with water based gloss, it makes me and the job look crap. did you know that johnstone paints have the exact formula for farrow and ball and a license which they get from F&B. which means you get the exact mix using their paint in gloss, matt, eggshell, or whatever at Johnstone prices and the paint is ok.
I AGREE WITH YOU , HAVE BEEN A PAINTER AND DECORATER FOR 55 YEARS AND I HATE THE STUFF . STAN FROM SELBY NORTH YORKSHIRE
Really helpful post. I’m even later to the party the you! Sheer desperation made me search even harder for a solution.
I have a really old property (a grade II listed old monastery), I’ve had so many problems with water based wood paint!
A couple of years ago my hardwood conservatory needed repainting, both inside and outside, and as it is a huge one I decided not to risk doing it myself but get professionals in. They insisted on dulux weathershield after priming with another dulux primer. What rubbish! I was promised several years of protection and told it was the best paint on the market for exterior woodwork. Well, within a horrifyingly short 4 months it had started to flake and peel. The inside and the outside. Inside was also bubbling in places. This paint offers zero protection for wood and a structure this size desperately needs hardcore protection because replacing rotten wood won’t be cheap or or easy!
Everyone, every so called professional or decorating centre I’ve asked says don’t use oil based. I’ve been told it will bubble. Surely it can’t be worse than the weathershield paint?
I’ve temporarily patched up some flaky areas with a couple of coats of zinsser allcoat but the whole thing needs redoing ASAP.
I’m minded to try oil this time.
Thanks for this really helpful post!
I always use oil based with a real bristle brush for good ‘laying off’. Man made brushes are only suitable for water based. I’ve just repainted the outside of my house, hasn’t been done for well over 20 years. It had always been painted with oil based, and though the top coat was finally beginning to flake off, the wood underneath the primer and undercoat (both sound) turned out to be beautifully preserved, and still in perfectly preserved condition. I heat gunned most paint off, despite it doing its best to cling on, and was hard work to remove, then primed/undercoated and top coated everything with old oil paint. If it lasts as well as the previous paint, I will be very happy. After reading this immense and helpful blog, I’m very glad I’ve been saving all my old paint for many years. With a very good stir, no matter how rusty the tin, the paint is fine after the floating oil is stirred back in, or the skin carefully cut off and removed.
Thanks for the blog. It seems to reflect my experience too: On our renovation project (Georgian Grade II Listed Farmhouse) , we have used Valspar on the (lime plaster) walls with some success, although it’s a lot better on lining paper. Bare brick walls in the scullery have been limewashed. messy but excellent results. The woodwork is another kettle of fish altogether. It seems to me that regardless of brand, water based paint just doesn’t cut it both in terms of coverage and wear/chipping resistance. What is your view on linseed oil paint for the exterior woodwork? Final question – what do you know about canvas stretch walls & what size we would need to use prior to papering? Clearly the use of PVA stuff is a poor idea.
You can solve all your water based over oil based problems by priming with a coat of Zinsser primers. B-I-N is very good and is a shellac based primer. They have oil and water based primers. You make the choice to fit your criteria.
Thanks so much for the article, it now explains what happened to the paint on the external brickwork of my house. I bought Sandtex external masonry paint, which is water based, and merrily painted the external back wall of the house after sanding it down. Six or so months on, it’s peeling. I guess the original paint was oil based and that ‘s why this water based paint is peeling. I wouldn’t mind but I’ve got loads of this paint leftover and have no idea what I’ll do with it now.
Hi Karen, Some very interesting views on water based paints v oil based. I am just about to ask my IT man to write my latest blog on this subject. My company are pushing for 100% water based paint and we are nearly there. http://www.jblyth.co.uk ,Walk into any paint supplier and they will try and sell you the expensive, oil based or whatever there boss tells them to.
VOC regulations means nothing to the general public but when you care about the environment like we do and work with paint everyday then its only fair to let the customer know the benefits of using water based paints, (moan over).
These are the paints that we highly recommend and you wont find these in B&Q, Wickes, Brewers ,Dulux ,Johnstons, Crown.
No 1 Caparol Haftprimer- Adhesion primer/undercoat OMG trust me you will never use anything else after trying this paint. Amazing coverage especially over yellowing skirt, trim, doors ,windows.
No 2 Benjamin Moore scuff x- This is the hardest wearing ,lovely finish, low odour, I have even painted my walls in my home with this (kids like drawing on walls) its like painting with milk, no more expensive than the crap they will sell you at your local suppliers, ask them do you stock this and they will look at you like who’s this freak.
No 3 Tikkurila Paints- Now we are TALKING, I could talk all day about not only the customer service you get from this company but there paint range goes off the scale, There from Finland and as I have been told by a very good source, PPG have purchased the brand (don’t mess with the product) , Karen please try these out if you haven’t already, trust me you will never look back. Happy Painting
Thanks John. Really good info, for both me and all the people who find this post online. I have absolutely nothing against water based paints at all, in fact my go-to paint is now Benjamin Moore. I wrote a post about Benjamin Moore paints a couple of years ago now.
I still have decorators that won’t move away from oil based paints though, so when they won’t use anything else, I always go down the Little Greene or Paint and Paper Library route as they still offer an eco-friendly oil based paint.
I’m still to try Tikkurila Paints but it’s difficult when you don’t have their fan decks to work with. And i’ve not heard of Caparol Haftprimer – that’s a new one on me! Will have a read up on that tomorrow.
Very interesting reading. Can I throw this little point i to the mix. Most well know brands of water-borne paints use Acrylic resins. You are effectively painting plastic on to your walls etc. How can any acrylic paint be classed as Environmental. I am not even certain if low VOC plastic paint is actually better for the environment than high VOC oil paints that do not contain plastic. Outside of the plastic issue, these paints also need biocide, thickeners and others chemicals to to remove the smells, so they can claim to be odourless.
What we need is a third type of paint. One that performs like an oil paint without the solvents and is better for the environment than traditional water-borne paints.. ie one with low VOCs no plastic resins or added chemicals , be suspended in water, which is durable and washable, and cures quickly.
Benjamin Moore Advave is close. However it could be better. Its VOC level is not really low at 48g /L, and I am not convinced that it does not contain syntactic fillers. I am finding it hard to find that answer. It certainly contains biocides. They are on the right track though!
In order to prove my point I have developed a paint that fits the bill. I would be happy to send a sample for you to be as ruthless with as you wish with.
Best regards Lorie
Hi Lorie, all brilliant points you’ve made. Have you heard of Graphenstone? It’s a paint that uses no plastics at all in their paints.
I’m yet to use them yet as I always prefer to use a paint in my own home before letting loose in client’s homes and i’ve not had chance to redecorate for a while. Feel free to drop me an email about the paint you’ve developed, i’d be interested to try a sample! 🙂
Hi Karen, yes indeed Graphenstone is plastic free and a superb paint. Currently the best environmental paint currently on the market, in my opinion. Graphenstone uses Graphine not plastic. I decided to look in another direction as not too happy about the mining side of the process. I will be in contact re samples. Love your blogs. Lorie
Came across your post as I was searching for suitable paint for hallway stairs because I had painted my kitchen cupboards earlier this year , followed all the rules , sugar soap, sanded , wiped
Down , used zinsser primer followed by V33 cupboard paint in anthracite grey , it’s chipped loads , I have touched up a few times but have to lightly sand before re coating … it’s a pain in the rear , hence I want
Something that is not going to chip , so will try one of the recommended paints ,, thanks for the heads up
While the water based floor lacquers have improved a lot over the past years, i dont think it can compete with a heavy duty two pack solvent based floor lacquer. Even if the solvent based floor lacquers have a number of disadvantages, most people would pick it based on durability
Of course, a water based floor lacquer looks better, it is manufacured from more eco friendly materials and it is less toxic. But based on durability, the solvent based lacquers win
Wood Care Products
it currently discloses what befell the paint on the outside brickwork of my home. I purchased Sandtex outer workmanship paint, which is water based, and happily painted the outside back mass of the house in the wake of sanding it down. It’s likewise extraordinary to be familiar with different brands as I was anticipating repainting two or three dividers. Figure I will be investigating Little Greene when I repaint my blue divider darket. Much obliged for the heads up on this as even the decorators I’ve utilized have never gotten this.