Knowing whether to chose gloss paint or satinwood is a decision I had to make when I recently had to paint an obscene amount of wood in our dark hallway.

We weren’t in our new house months before I noticed that the woodwork in the rooms with little or no direct sunlight were beginning to yellow.  Even on window ledges, I would lift a vase to dust and the paint would be yellow underneath.  I had never seen anything like it!

As it turned out, our house was painted with the first batch of Dulux gloss since the EU legislation changed and that magical chemical that kept it from yellowing was removed.  The builder was taking no responsibility.

So, I did a fair bit of research when we decided to paint the hall and lets just say, I found it a little bit confusing, with the amount of conflicting advice out there, on forums especially.  At the time I played it safe and went with oil based gloss out of familiarity.  But, I’m already having buyers remorse!

I’ve done extensive research into this topic now and I wanted to summarise the ‘pros & cons’ of these paints.

Water Based or Oil Based Paint?

Gloss & satinwood paint are becoming ever more available as water based.  Water based paint will dry quicker than oil based and be easier on your nose.  As it’s water based, you can clean your brushes with water instead of white spirit, which is required for oil based paint.  Water based paint will stay whiter longer, especially in low or no UV lit areas.  I wish I knew this before I delved in and used oil based!

Can you use water based gloss on top of oil based gloss?

Yes you can!  Another thing I wish I knew at the time! As long as you rub back the surface and prime and undercoat with a water based suitable paint first, you shouldn’t have any issues.  It’s all in the preparation!

Gloss Paint or Satinwood?

Both gloss and satinwood are available as oil or water based.  For the reasons mentioned above, I will always opt for water based now.  The difference between gloss and satinwood is the finish.  Gloss paint gives a high shine finish, where as satinwood is more mid-sheen.  You could also opt to use eggshell, which would give you a completely matt finish.

As our hallway is very dark, I went for gloss for reflecting the little light we do have.

Once, non drip or liquid?

Ok, so you’ve picked your paint and you turn up at the DIY store to buy it and you have numerous options staring back at you! We used non drip gloss in our hall.  I had read on forums that is like painting with toothpaste, but I disagree.  It’s all in the application.  I found a little went a long way.  Just keep working the paint and you’ll have no problems with brush stokes.

If you have a lot of wood to cover, you don’t want to have to do a second coat, if you can avoid it.  So bear that in mind.  We only did 1 coat of non drip and I found that sufficient.

Painting Panel Doors

Don’t let those panel doors scare you.  I’ve put together a straight forward ‘how to paint panel doors‘ post, which will give you a great finish every time.

If there is one tip I can give you is get a decent set of brushes.  No one wants to spend all that time painting, only to find brush hairs in the paint.

You can check out the rather amazing transformation from yellowed gloss to bright white over on my hallway reveal post.

Happy painting!

5 things you should know before painting wood

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7 Comments

  1. Hi and thank you for your great article! To summarise, which exactly paint will you recommended? I notice that water-based paints are very week – you can scratch them down with your nails, so I do not use them any more…
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  2. I have had problems on window sills using water-based gloss – marks easily and had chipped off in places. Have you found its good for lengivity, and if so, what brand did you use?

    • We used oil based gloss on this project, dulux. Very hard wearing and easy to look after. Only down side is the yellowing.

      Since have used water based satin and I’d say it marks easy, but on the other hand easy to touch up. I’ve only ever had chips where it’s tricky to sand properly, corners for example. It was crown satin water based second time around.

  3. Hi.I’m thinking of painting my kitchen doors.which paint would you recommend please

    • That would very much depends on your doors and the look you’re trying to achieve. Personally I would stick to something matt, like a satin and coat it after with a matt clear varnish to protect it.

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