Clueless About Paint? Here’s What to Know!


I can vividly remember a trip to the orthodontist when I was 14, getting my braces checked. Nothing eventful happened at all during the check-up. It was what I found out when I got back to school that mattered. I arrived back just in time for the end of a science lesson where the teacher had everyone learn how to wire a plug. The topic was never brought up again, and I spent years not knowing how to wire a plug, until learning much too late from YouTube.

It was one of those life skills that seem simple, but if you’re never told at a young enough age what to do, you may end up too embarrassed to ask for help when you’re supposed to be a fully grown adult. And while I could write a list all day of life skills schools should teach us all, one I think everyone missed, was learning how to paint your house. Unless you know someone in the trade, trying to paint your home for the first time will see you make mistakes.

So what can someone with absolutely no knowledge of painting do to get clued in quickly? Thanks to some advice from the paint specialist at The Paint Shed, here are the main talking points you should get to know before buying paint, and what to look for when shopping.

The finish

The finish is the first hurdle most people encounter when buying paint. It can leave you clueless and absolutely befuddled trying to figure out which gloss goes where and the difference between matt and flat matt. Typically, paint finishes fall within this range: flat, matte, eggshell, satin, semi-gloss, high-gloss. That is going from dullest to shiniest.

When in doubt, get the matte out. If you’re looking for a decent matte paint, our friends at The Paint Shed have it covered (quite literally). It is the one to choose for any interior, and you would typically lean towards gloss paints when working outside.

The function

Apart from looking good, what possible function would paint possess? Well, do you need a paint which is splashproof from the shower? Or does paint need to be washable in areas where people are likely to stain and scuff walls?

Figure out what you need paint to do and work back from there. For example, someone looking to paint their bathroom may need paint which can tolerate moisture while also providing protection against mould (we’ve all had a nightmare bathroom with a mouldy corner).

The material

Paint is made of resins and water, so what material would I be talking about? In an ideal world, you could use the same paint on your bedroom walls as you could in your garden, but this is never the case. Different paints need to be used on different surfaces/materials to work effectively. Never ever buy paint just because it has a good price. Always opt for paint which is formulated for different surfaces first, then get to thinking about function and finish.

The old colour

This last nugget of paint knowledge is for anyone who is currently looking at dark walls and wants to get them nice and bright. When you’re buying a lovely white emulsion, if you put it on the wall with the utmost care, it will never look right.

How so? Well, you can’t go from dark to light without having an undercoat in between. Undercoats (sometimes called primers) will create a layer that lets new paint adhere without the old paint seeping through, also known as bleeding.

So, to prevent bleeding, think of undercoat like a plaster (Band-Aid for our American friends).

Happy Painting!

That is pretty much all the basics covered when it comes to all things paint. Use this as your barometer for finding the right paint for your home, and it should be plain sailing.