What Is The Best Paint for Walls?

One of the simplest methods to update or refresh a room is to give it a coat of paint. In just a few hours you can easily transform the look of your room. Painting a room certainly is the most affordable method, and it is also the easiest to do. It also just happens to be the fastest method as well. The hardest question for most people is what is the best type of paint for walls?

If you have ever looked around a DIY store, the choices of paints can be quite bewildering. That is because there are lots of paints available for different surfaces.

On top of that, there are also a whole range of brands such as Dulux, Crown, Johnstones, Leyland and many more. To confuse that even more there are different types of finishes and features.

To try and help you decide, we are going to walk you through all the details on what interior paints are available, and also how to pick the right type of wall paint for your room. For now though let's understand what wall paints are currently available on the UK market.

painting a wall in a room

What Room Are You Painting?

This is always the first question to answer. Most walls are painted with what is known as a water based paint, often referred to as an emulsion paint. It is fast and easy to apply and it dries very quickly. (1-2 hours) The brushes and rollers are also easy to clean after use.

Living Rooms and Bedrooms

This type of standard emulsion based paint is used most often in a living room or a bedroom. The disadvantage of this type of emulsion paint is that it is not that easy to wipe clean.

Kitchens and Bathrooms

Rooms such as a kitchen, dining room or a bathroom should be painted with a moisture resistant emulsion paint. That is simply because these rooms are subject to steam from kettles, cookers, showers or baths. You can use normal emulsion paint in these rooms, but a moisture resistant paint is much better.

If you use this type of paint, it can be wiped down without losing any of its colour. It is also more resistant to build ups of grease and stains. This type of moisture resistant paint can be used on both ceilings and walls. Just be aware that this type of paint is much more expensive than a standard emulsion wall paint.

Kid's Rooms, Halls and Landings

Now for kid's rooms, hallways and landings you can also use normal emulsion paint. However, it is probably better to use a harder wearing paint. That type of paint is more resistant to knocks, bumps and scrapes. It is also a great deal easier to wipe clean. Thinks pens and markers and you will know what I mean.

What Look Do You Want for Your Walls?

Emulsion paints also come in a number of different finishes. The two most popular are known as Matt and Silk. The "Matt effect" is a subtle flat finish whereas the silk offers a satin, or light shine effect which is slightly more warming.

This is often referred to as a softer sheen.

matt paint finish for walls

Matt Finish

typical silk paint finish for walls

Silk Finish

Summary of Wall Painting So Far

At this stage it is worth summarising which wall paint is best. For halls, landings, living rooms and bedrooms most people will pick a normal emulsion based paint. For bathrooms and kitchens a moisture resistant based paint is always the better choice.

The other two decisions to make, are which colour do you like, and which finish do you prefer? Satin or Silk finishes are slightly more expensive than a Matt finish.

Most people will use a matt finish on large areas like a hall, stairs and landing. The silk style of finish is warmer and works very well in living rooms and bedrooms.

Typical Matt Paint Finish for Walls

Typical Matt Paint Finish for Walls

Which Brand of Wall Paint Should You Pick?

This debate has been going on for years. The two "big brands" are of course Dulux and Crown. Some people prefer one over the other. Two other popular choices are Leyland (used mainly by painters) and Johnstones. We have used all of these over the years and it is hard to be certain which is really the best.

All four of these brands are good, so what we normally do is simply go for any of those which happen to be on offer. We know that is not the most scientific method, but they are all good quality, so you may as well save a few pounds.

Vinyl Paints

Many paint manufacturers also use the word vinyl, when describing either a matt or a silk/satin finish. In other words they may call it a "Vinyl Silk," or a "Vinyl Matt."

This simply means that it can be wiped with a damp cloth to remove marks. Although that helps, they are not as good as a moisture resistant paint, in terms of being easy to clean.

What Sizes of Wall Paint Tins are Available?

These usually come in 2.5 litre, 5 litre or 10 litre sizes. The 2.5 and 5 litre normally come in a tin. The larger 10 litre size will normally come in a plastic bucket.

Normally you will find white colour emulsions (used for ceilings and walls) usually come in the larger sizes. Colours normally come in the smaller sized tins.

How Much Wall Paint Do You Need?

A very good rule of thumb is that 1 litre of emulsion paint will cover 12 square metres. To work out how much you need, do a rough measurement of the wall sizes in your room. Add those up to get an idea of how much paint you need.

For a standard sized room, 5 litres of emulsion will be enough to allow you to do 2 coats of paint.

Preparing the Walls for Paint

No matter what walls you are going to paint, preparation is key. I have done a full article on how to prepare a room for painting, which you can read by clicking here.

However the summary is to clean the walls, and fill in cracks and holes, before starting to paint them.

Hopefully, you now have a much better idea of the best paint for walls. Don't get overwhelmed by the choices available. You need an emulsion based paint, and then pick either a matt or silk finish.

After that it is down to the colour you like best, and what size of tin you need to buy.

What Do You Use to Paint Your Walls

We are asked this question a lot. There are basically just a couple of options for most people. You can use a large emulsion brush, along with a cutting brush or you can use a roller, along with a cutting brush. Either works really well, but I have always found the roller to be a faster job.

The disadvantage of the roller is that it can be a lot messier. With an emulsion brush, you will be a little slower, but a heck of a lot cleaner. A cutting brush allows you to get into the edges, and the corners to create a nice neat line.

I have included an image to the right of a typical cutting brush which is a 2" brush.

emulsion cutting brush

This is the Axus Décor 2-inch Precision Angled Cutter Brush, available at Amazon and it is a really popular and good quality brush. The best way to paint the wall is to use a roller to do the bulk of the work.

Then get your cutting brush and do the edges. Finally carefully cut the wall up to the ceiling, taking great care not to touch the ceiling.

I have always found it easier to do the cutting first, when I am fresh and have more energy and concentration. Then I use the roller as the tricky work has already been done. There is no right and wrong way of doing this.

Clean Your Brushes and Rollers

When you have finished painting the walls in a room, no doubt you will be tired. The last thing you will want to do is to start cleaning brushes. Normally I grab a cup of tea, take a few minutes break, and then clean the brushes.

The good news is with wall or ceiling emulsion, it simply and quickly rinses out in cold water. Gloss paint used on doors and skirtings is a lot more difficult to clean. That will usually mean steeping them in white spirit or turpentine, and then washing out with soapy water.

Enda McLarnon
 

I enjoy writing about tools and gadgets of all kinds. As an electrician and with many years working in the building industry, I have used my fair share of all the leading tool brands. On this website I share my experiences of these along with my colleague Geoff.

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