Time to renovate? Here’s a basic guide to different types of paints

Renovating your home? Here’s a basic guide to the main types of paints available and where you’d commonly use them.

For use around the home, paint is normally divided into two types – acrylic and enamel. The easiest way to remember the difference is acrylic paints wash up in water, whereas enamel requires turpentine for cleaning.

Both have advantages in different applications – acrylic paints dry faster, less messy clean-up, and are ideally suited for large broad wall areas inside and outside the home.

Enamels, especially gloss enamels, provide an extremely hardwearing, glossy surface perfect for skirting boards, architraves and doors.

One tip to remember with enamel – white and light colours can take on a very slight yellow tinge when used in areas where there isn’t a lot of natural light.

Paint’s usually classified by the sheen level produced, here’s a simple guide to help you decide which product to use where –


Flat – Flat or Matt paints are ideal for large surfaces where you want to minimize light reflection, and cover surface imperfections such as ceilings.

Low Sheen – The most popular sheen level for interiors, low sheen paints are normally acrylic based and provide a subtle, elegant finish for living areas and bedrooms.

Semi Gloss – Semi-Gloss paints are ideal for areas that have higher traffic than bedrooms and living rooms.  Semi-Gloss also provides good moisture resistance, and is ideally suited for areas such as kitchens and bathrooms. These are usually available in both enamel and more recently Acrylic.

Gloss – Gloss acrylic paints come in two categories, interior and exterior. Interior gloss is an ideal product for doors, skirting boards and architraves. Its easy wipe-down finish makes it a great choice for high traffic areas such as garage interiors. Exterior gloss is a great finish for all external areas such as walls, balustrades, and external window trims.

High Gloss – Typically an enamel product, high gloss can present an almost mirror finish in the hands of a professional. Its hardwearing properties make it an ideal choice for doors, window trims and skirting boards.