Interior wood paint buying guide

Interior wood paint buying guide

Julie, Interior Designer, Manchester

Guide written by:

Julie, Interior Designer, Manchester

54 guides

Acrylic, oil-based and alkyd paints can all be used to transform your interior wood surfaces. Whether you're after a matte, glossy, mid-sheen or satin finish, or even a modern gold effect, interior wood paints are inexpensive and offer great results. Follow our guide to find the right interior wood paint for your project.

Important features

  • Acrylic
  • Oil-based
  • Alkyd
  • Matte
  • Finish
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Undercoats and all-in-one wood products

There was a time when you had to use different types of paint for each wood surface meaning you ended up with a collection of paint pots. Today, thanks to the availability of primers and undercoats, you don't need such a wide selection of products; simply apply an undercoat and paint with the same type of multi-surface base and you'll get a quality and hard-wearing finish. Undercoats allow you to prepare your surface properly in order to optimise your finish. It is also possible to buy all-in-one paints suitable for a range of surfaces (wood, metal, radiators, etc.). With a range of made-to-measure products available, you can really freshen up your home with ease.

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Primers and undercoats

Different types of interior wood paint

Acrylic paint

Acrylic paint is the most commonly used indoor wood paint as it has very little odour and is quick-drying. The water-based formula of these paints means that most contain less toxic ingredients than other types of paint. Easy to use, acrylic paint means you can clean your tools with water. It is possible to find single-coat acrylic paint with very good coverage; otherwise, you can go for a double-coat paint.

Oil-based paint

Oil-based paint can still be found in shops; however, it is now subject to strict regulations as it contains higher levels of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) than other paint products. This type of paint has a strong odour and a specific product is required for cleaning tools (solvents). It is recommended to ventilate the room well during application. Oil-based paints are ideal for a high gloss finish. While efficient and resistant enough for use in the kitchen and bathroom, oil-based paints are not recommended for use in bedrooms. Nonetheless, these paints do offer a lot of coverage and a smooth finish.

Alkyd paint

Alkyd paint is a new generation of paint that combines a natural water base with the resistance of an oil-based paint. This type of paint does not emit a strong odour and dries to the touch in a very short space of time (less than an hour). Alkyd paint is less toxic, allows tools to be cleaned with water, and provides a smooth finish.

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Wood paint finishes

Just like for any type of wall or decorative paint, you can choose from various types of finish for your woodwork.

Matte finish

For a more modern look, you should opt for a matte finish. This finish is suitable for use in most rooms. However, you will have to be careful as any mistakes or marks will be apparent.

Satin finish

For a bright effect and easy application, you should think about a satin finish. This finish masks any small mistakes and is suitable for any room.

Gloss finish

For a reflective finish that gives a light and spacious feeling, a gloss finish is recommended. Often used for rooms prone to damp, this finish does not do well on damaged surfaces.

Wood dyes

Indoor wood dyes are a type of finishing product used mainly for panelling, skirting and/or beams. The stain is used to help protect the wood.

Tinted and coloured dyes

Wood dyes designed for interior use can be tinted or coloured. These dyes are mainly used for decorative effect. They come in all colours and allow the grain of the wood to show through. Clear dyes can be found but are used less for interior woodcare. Tinted or coloured dyes retain the natural appearance of the wood and are hard-wearing. Gel wood dyes offer a better hold and come with a range of properties depending on where they will be applied. For example, you can find dyes that offer a fungicidal treatment to combat damp, or an anti-UV treatment to withstand sunlight; the latter is a great option for south-facing bay windows.

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Indoor wood dyes

Gilding wood

It is possible to cover wood witha thin 'leaf' of metal.

How to gild wood

To start, a layer of binder must be applied to the wood using various techniques:

  • Tempera - a binder made from animal skin or egg whites;
  • Oil-based adhesive - a type of varnish with a faster drying time
  • Metallic powders - used instead of gold leaf.

Gilding is an ancient art that does require some skill. If you don't feel up to the challenge, it is possible to find all-in-one products to transform your woodwork with a simple lick of paint!

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Gold leaf

Using varnish to protect your wooden surfaces

There are many different products used to revive or protect an old piece of wooden furniture. Varnish is a very easy long-lasting product; it is a protective product that allows you to preserve the appearance of bare wood. As with all other wood protection products, it is the surface type that will determine your choice of varnish.

Types of varnish

Go for a wax finish satin varnish for warm tones. A clear matte varnish will be perfect if you're only looking for protection, while a coloured varnish will give a light and natural tone while protecting the wood.

Difference between varnish and dyes

Varnish creates a transparent film over the surface of the wood. This protects the wood from stains, wear, scratches, and moisture. A dye is used to let the grain of the wood shine through and can be in liquid or gel form. Unlike varnish, dyes penetrate the wood to protect it from external damage. Dying is generally not recommended for flooring as it is not very durable.

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Final tips to get the best result from your interior wood paint

To achieve the perfect result, some measures should be taken before you even start painting and decorating. First, you need a clean, dry and healthy surface. Avoid using chemicals to clean, as this may alter the paint. Do not forget to sand down the surface lightly to ensure that your paint or undercoat adheres correctly. Do not hesitate to invest in high-quality painting tools to make your life easier. The rollers and brushes you use must be perfectly suited to the type of paint and finish you choose. Finally, make sure to mix your paint, either by hand or using a mixing paddle, to ensure the pigment is evenly dispersed.

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Mixing paddles

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Guide written by:

Julie, Interior Designer, Manchester, 54 guides

Julie, Interior Designer, Manchester

After years of DIY, renovation and designing, I decided to turn my passion into a career. Starting in 2006, in the South-West, I helped people with renovation or construction projects. My expertise and curiosity led me to look further into innovative ideas for myself and my clients. Indeed, to live your passion is also to transform the space you live in and the objects you use daily. My family love my creations and ideas that I bring into their lives! My favourite thing to do: use colour to brighten up interior space. But also tips to hide away clutter. Your home is just never big enough, is it? It is therefore a great pleasure to share my tips with you, so that you also can take as much pleasure as I do when starting up your next project!  

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