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Kitchen and bathroom paint buying guide

Guide written by:
John, DIYer & IT developer, Brighton

John, DIYer & IT developer, Brighton

59 guides

Acrylic, oil, alkyd, anti-damp treatments, microspheres; kitchen and bathroom paints are specific to to the aggressive conditions that they are subjected to: condensation, detergents, high temperatures. They have specific properties designed especially for the walls and ceilings of these rooms!

Important features

  • Oil-based
  • Acrylic
  • Alkyd
  • Opacity
  • VOCs

What is my paint composed of?


A wall paint is made of different elements which can bring special properties:

  • Binders or resins: these have the property of gardening when in contact with the air. They ensure that the paint sticks to the wall and that the complaints stick to each other and the endurance of the film. All in all, the binders bind everything together!
  • Pigments: particulars which bring colour. They are insoluble in the paint, but are in suspension.
  • Fillers: add matter to the paint, either to add technical properties or for economical reasons
  • Solvents: used to suspend the x in solutions, they liquefy the paint. The drying time varies upon their nature. They are mixed with the paint: (ex. White spirit) and may be flammable! Careful!
  • Additives: compounds added to give supplementary properties such as penetrating the material that is being painted, better stick, flatter surface, anti-fungal...

What is glycerol paint?

Glycerophtalic is their full name, these are oil-based paints. They can diluted and cleaned off using white spirit. They have strong opacifying properties and give a great flatness to the painted surface. And highly resistant! They have a tendency to be replaced by water-bases paints (they've been going on about it for over 10 years...) because of the quantities of solvents that they contain. It requires the painted room to be aired thoroughly during and after application. Don't forget the mask whilst painting!

And acrylic paint... With water in it?


Acrylic paints, also known as latex paints (even if they don't always contain latex) are water-based and the most widely available. They are more advantageous as they have a reduced amount of solvents for a quicker drying time - 30 minutes to touch dry. The most virtuous of these revive the European ecological label indicating low COV emissions (volatile organic compounds). Practical for cleaning your brushes! Of course, they are perfect for any room!

Why alkyd paints then?

Acrylic paints don't offer the same smooth surface as glycerol paints. Alkyd paints offer the best of both: easy cleaning with water, a fast drying time and a good finish allowing you to get lacquered effects and strong resistance. And also a little less toxic!

Gloss, semi-gloss matt, satin, eggshell…?

It's just as much a question of aesthetics as it is technical. Matt finish paints are the most fragile. As they reflect light very little, they hide the defaults underneath. It is an excellent choice for an old ceiling when the faults would be very obvious with the reflections of the light. For walls, it is preferable to use satin paints, also known aseggshell, which are more resistant. For high traffic areas such as childrens’ bedrooms, you may consider a semi-gloss finish which is even stronger than eggshell. Finally, gloss paints, even more resistant, are recommended for door and window trims, woodwork. Glossier finishes make small rooms more airy and light up dull spaces.

I've heard about VOCs, what are they?

VOCs, or Volatile Organic Compounds, are chemicals that evaporate easily into the air. These chemicals are suspected to be toxic and cancerous. You should thus avoid using paints which are strong emitters of VOCs. They are noted from A+ for the least emitting to C for the worst. In any case, you should always air the room well during and after use. Always wear a mask whilst painting and protect yourself against any mutant VOCs!

What is an undercoat?


An undercoat is a "high-tech" paint. It is made to ensure the finish by giving uniformity to the surface and by blocking its pores. Even if the latter cannot be seen by the naked eye, it has a definite effect on the finish and depends completely in the type of surface being painted:

  • Universal primer for plaster, cement, concrete or wood. Economical;
  • Primer-sealer for plasterboard: a specific treatment to protect the paper membrane
  • Primer sealer or stabiliser for porous surfaces: to harden fragile or friable surfaces (drywall)
  • Metal or epoxy primer: to paint surfaces which do not hold paint easily, such as plastic.
There is a special undercoat for areas of high condensation, don't forget to use one!

Why specific paints?

Kitchens and bathrooms are generally the warmest and most humid rooms, which accelerates the effects of ageing on the paint. Numerous splashes and spills of soap, grease and detergents require regular cleaning, and sometimes scrubbing and chemicals that certain paints can't stand up to.

Can I limit the condensation?

Condensation is formed when water vapour in the air turns back into a liquid when it comes into contact with a cold wall. Kitchens and bathrooms are the main culprits for the production of steam and water vapour. Thus these rooms are often subject to high levels of condensation church can cause health problems. The microspheres or ceramic beads in these paints will lessen the effect of a cold wall and slow the apparition of condensation. However, these paints are not a substitute for appropriate action to be taken for culprit rooms: proper ventilation and isolation is a must. Think about airing out everytime you make any steam!

And as for specific treatment for damp and mould?


Damp mould is a recurrent problem in terms of cleanliness of the house. It appears because of condensation and gives rise to respiratory pathologies, those who are fragile are particularly susceptible. If you have a problem with mould, use paints which contain fungicides which stop them from growing on treated surfaces. These agents are efficient against the appearance of stains. If you cannot fight against the condensation, at least you can diminish its effects.


What do I do if I want a specific colour?

Anti-fungal paints are very technical and there are few colours available. As an exaggeration, you have the choice between white and white. If you want a funkier colour, you will have to use colourings... And a tactful dose to achieve the desired result. Pay attention to the dose, especially if you have to add it to several different tins!

So, in a word?

Kitchens and bathrooms both require specific paints due to their particular conditions. Applying technical paints is recommended so that the paint does not age prematurely. Of course, you can paint your bathroom with the first glycerol paint that you lay your hands on, just don't be surprised when it cracks...

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Guide written by:

John, DIYer & IT developer, Brighton 59 guides écrits

John, DIYer & IT developer, Brighton

From a very young age, I was always fascinated by manual and technical work, especially woodworking. When I got my very first flat, it became my own personal DIY playground. I rewired some of the electricity (remember, safety first!) to better supply all my computers and gadgets. I also built partition walls and did some decorating with my wife. We worked on some made-to-measure furniture and came up with little tricks to optimise the space, keeping the original charm of the building in mind. When the little one arrived, I started building bits and pieces for him as well.

We don't have a lot of space, so I don't have a permanent workshop or certain tools I've always dreamed of owning. But with my IT background, I already know a lot about DIY, and I love helping others troubleshoot their ideas!

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