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Kitchen and Bathroom Paintings buying guide

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

John, DIYer & IT developer, Brighton

59 guides
Acrylic, glycero, alkyd, anti-humidity treatment, micro beads, bathroom and kitchen paints are specific due to the aggressive conditions of these environments: humidity and condensation, detergent, and high temperature. They have properties for application to the walls and ceilings of these areas.

Important features

  • Glycero
  • Acrylic
  • Alkyde
  • Opacity
  • VOC

What are the components of the paint?

Every paint is composed of different elements that offer different characteristics.

Binders or Resins

The difference in these elements determines how the paint dries once it comes in contact with the air and how hard or flexible the finish will be. They also determine adhesion to the substrate, cohesion between elements within the paint, and its durability. In short, binders bind.


Particles within the paint that provide the colour. They do not dissolve into the paint but are suspended within it. This is why it is crucial to mix your paint properly before use, to ensure an even distribution of the pigment

Filling materials

Sometimes these are just to add material. Some add specific properties such as better penetration or adhesion to the substrate, while others are added for economic reasons, to stretch the paint further.


Used to keep the binders and other soluble elements in solutions. They help to liquefy the paint and keep it from settling. They also help to determine the drying time. Additional solvent can be mixed with paint (eg. white mineral spirits), but they can be flammable or harmful if they come in contact with your skin, be careful!

What is glycero paint?

Glycerophthalic paints, to use their technical name, are oil based. They should be diluted and cleaned using white mineral spirit. They offer good opacity (meaning you’ll need fewer coats), are highly resilient, and have a smooth, taut finish.

Lately, glycero paints are being replaced by water-based paints (this has been a slow process, over the last 10 years). They have fallen out of favour because of the amount of solvent they contain. Using these paints requires good ventilation even as the paint is drying. Making this switch will spare you having to wear a mask while you work.

Acrylic paint: water-based paint?

Acrylic paints are the most common water-based paints.

The main advantage is that they are easier to use (they don’t require any harmful solvents to thin or clean up) and they dry much more quickly, only 30 minutes to be dry to the touch.

The most virtuous acrylics receive a European eco-label which indicates low VOC emissions - Volatile Organic Compounds.

Convenient for cleaning brushes and rollers, you only need water. Obviously, they are suitable for all parts of your home.

Alkyd paint: what are the advantages and disadvantages?

For all of their virtues, acrylic paints do not offer the same opacity as glycerophthalics. Alkyd paints, however, offer the best properties of the other two: water soluble, a short drying time, and good opacity which allows obtaining a smooth, resilient finish with fewer coats. They are also a little less toxic or harmful to the environment.

Which finish to choose: shiny, matte or satin?

It is as much an aesthetic as a technical question. Matte finishes are the most fragile. Since they reflect less light, they hide any defects in the surface of the substrate. It is an excellent choice for old plaster walls or ceilings whose uneven surfaces would be too apparent with another finish.

For most walls, it is preferable to use a satin finish. These offer some of the same forgiveness of imperfections as matte paints with greater resistance to scuffs and scratches.

Finally, glossy paints. While these are the most resilient of the three, any damage or imperfection will be very apparent.

They are recommended for door frames, trim, or bannisters and railings. They can also help enlarge small spaces by bringing extra light to dark rooms.

VOC: Volatile Organic Compounds

VOCs, or Volatile Organic Compounds, are chemicals that are released into the air by materials such as drying paint.

These products are believed to be toxic or even carcinogenic. Avoid the use of highly VOC-emitting paints. The lowest level of emission is denoted with an A while the worst is with a C.

In all cases, it is advisable to ventilate well during and after application of the paint. Painting with a mask is an easy precaution against any VOC emissions.

What is an undercoat?

An undercoat is designed to prepare the substrate by giving it even colour and texture and helps to prevent porous materials from absorbing an excessive amount of pigment. Though it may seem unnecessary (it won’t even be seen in the end), it affects the final finish. An undercoat can provide different benefits to a variety of substrate materials:
  • Porous materials such as plaster, concrete, or wood. This is an economic choice as these materials can absorb a lot of paint otherwise.
  • Gypsum board benefits from staying dry. An undercoat provides a protective barrier against wet paint and will help reduce drying time.
  • Hardener can be found in select undercoats and helps to stabilise fragile or friable substrates.

  • Primer, a type of undercoat, helps to produce a more even and smooth finish.

Why specific paints?

Bathrooms and kitchens are generally warmer and wetter spaces which accelerate the wear and ageing of paints. Repeated exposure to soap or other cleaners, water, and grease is very harmful to all paints. In areas where this exposure is expected, paint with special resistance should be selected.

How to reduce condensation on walls

Condensation forms when the water in the form of steam returns to the liquid state in contact with a cooler surface. As kitchens and bathrooms are the main places of steam production, special care must be taken to reduce condensation in these places. Paints containing special micro beads help to reduce or delay the appearance of the condensation
However, these paints are not a substitute for proper ventilation and insulation. The easiest way to eliminate steam and condensation is through proper ventilation through windows or fans.


Fungicidal Paints  

Mold is a serious problem in home health. It appears in warm, wet environments and results in respiratory pathologies, especially in the very young or the very old. If you have a mould problem, you can use paints that contain fungicides to prevent the development of mould on treated surfaces.

These products are effective but should not be considered as a primary solution. Use a fungicidal product if you can’t reduce or eliminate condensation through proper ventilation.

Painting and colouring: more colours!

Anti-fungal and anti-condensation paints are technical products and are available in few colours. The colour chart is often composed of neutral tones. It is only a slight exaggeration to say that these products offer the choice between white and white.

If you want more vibrant colours, you will need to use dyes and a good dose of ingenuity to achieve the desired result. If you choose to mix the pigments yourself, pay attention to the dosage if you have to make it more than one batch.

Selection Tips

Both kitchens and bathrooms require specific paints given their particular conditions. The application of technical paints is recommended in order not to have premature ageing of the paint. You can, of course, use whatever paints you want. Just don’t be surprised if it starts to peel or bubble.

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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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