The 3 Best Types of Paint for Interior Wood

Person using a paintbrush to paint a wooden door

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Back in the day, people automatically opted for gloss paint when painting wood around the home. Doors, skirting boards, door frames, bannisters – they all got the same treatment. These days, the typical homeowner or professional painter and decorator has a few more options to choose from.

Let’s take a look at each of them so you can get an idea of which one would work best for you and your situation.

Gloss paint

Gloss paint is hard-wearing and traditionally used for painting skirting boards and other woodwork and metalwork inside and outside the home.

Because gloss paint is so durable, it’s used in high-traffic parts of the home that suffer most from wear and tear such as hallways, kitchens, bathrooms and utility rooms.

In a family home, skirting boards, doors, windows and door frames will take plenty of knocks over time. Gloss is a tough paint that absorbs most of these knocks so your paintwork will stay looking good for longer, but not forever, I’m afraid.

Once dry, gloss paint creates a shiny reflective surface. 

Some modern gloss paints are water-based (as opposed to old-style gloss paint, which was oil-based and prone to yellowing over time). For example, this Dulux Quick Dry Gloss is water-based, while this Dulux Non Drip Gloss is oil-based. 

You can tell the difference by identifying the cleaning method stated on the container or product page of the website. If it suggests cleaning your brush with water, it’s water-based paint. If it suggests cleaning your brush with Polycell Brush Cleaner (as Dulux does), it’s oil-based paint.

You may also come across the term ‘solvent-based’ when looking at paints. This is another term for ‘oil-based’.

Satin/satinwood/semi-gloss paint

Satin and satinwood paints are essentially the same thing. Perhaps a more descriptive term for this type of paint is the third option in the header above – semi-gloss.

For argument’s sake, let’s stick with the term ‘satinwood’ as this is the one manufacturers use most often.

In recent years, the popularity of satinwood as an alternative to gloss paint has significantly increased. The mid-sheen finish from this type of paint works well in modern homes, while providing a good level of durability.

Because satinwood paints are typically water-based, whites tend to stay whiter for longer.

It’s worth noting that some satinwood paints are oil-based (for example, Dulux Once Satinwood) so always check the specifications before buying.

What causes gloss paint to yellow over time?

In a word – sunlight. Gloss paint in an area of the home flooded with natural light will suffer from discolouration quicker than an area without much natural light. If you want to make your white gloss paint stay whiter for longer, choose a water-based gloss paint.

Eggshell paint

Eggshell is the paint to choose if you’re looking for a low-sheen or almost matt finish.

It’s the go-to paint for creating a shabby chic feel.

Perhaps the main problem with eggshell paint is its lack of durability. While it looks the part when used to its strengths, it doesn’t stand up to the knocks and bangs in the same way as gloss paint.

You decide

Now that you know the main differences between the three types of paint typically used for painting woodwork and metalwork around the home, it’s up to you to decide which is best for your situation. There are no definitive answers. Just choices and options.

How much time do you need to leave between coats when painting wood or metal?

For oil-based/solvent-based paints, you’ll need to wait about 16 hours before applying the next coat. The drying time might vary between products and manufacturers so check the tin. For water-based paints, you only need to wait a few hours between coats. But once again, check the tin for product-specific instructions.