It can be confusing determining what the right type of paint to use for what type of surface or room. In fact, there are often various different paint types that are only suitable for certain applications.

Painting indoors or outdoors can often mean selecting different paint types and it’s easy to see how that can be confusing for people who are wondering what paint for where. This guide will explain the different paint types and where they are suitable to apply.

Paint consists of pigments along with either an oil-based or water-based binder. The amount of pigment relates to how much gloss or sheen will be in the finished result. Water-based paints dry through evapouration while oil-based mixtures have an additional drying agent included which helps with the drying process.

You can use the links above to find the right paint for the job. It’s a helpful paint guide that lists the best paints you can buy for each application or finish.

What is Gloss Paint

A hard-wearing paint that provides a shiny high-sheen finish for woodwork and trims around the home. Gloss paint is durable and resistant to knocks and scuffs making it one of the best high-duty paint and perfect for skirting boards, doors and any woodwork around the home. 

It is available in water-based and oil-based compounds, with the water-based solution providing a non-yellowing hard-wearing strong paint. Gloss paint is often used for heavy traffic areas where scuffs can occur due to it’s high-quality protective finish.

Water-based gloss is usually used for interiors and dries quicker than oil-based gloss.

Oil-based gloss is used for woodwork and metal surfaces and objects and can be quite odorous and can take upto 24 hours to fully dry.

What is Emulsion Paint

Modern emulsions are water-based paint that’s easily applied to walls and ceilings for a smooth clean finish. It contains vinyl or acrylic which allows the particles to stick together while it dries on the surface. The inclusion of vinyl and acrylic also provides varying degrees of durability and sheen.  

A general rule is that the heard-wearing durability relates to the sheen of the paint. A shiner finish usually means that it’s more durable.

Emulsion paint is available in Matt, Satin or Silk with Matt emulsion providing a non-sheen finish with either a  Vinyl or Non-Vinyl (acrylic) mixture, Satin results in a slightly harder finish that can be described as a soft-sheen and Silk gives a mid-sheen finish to emulsion. Each finish has different degrees of durability with Silk being the most durable then Satin and finally Matt.

Due to the paint being water-based, emulsion is quick drying and will be dry within 4 hours. While usually applied to walls and ceilings there are types of emulsion paints that are suitable for wood but they will not be as hard-wearing as oil-based mixtures.

What is Satin or Satinwood Paint

Satin paint gives a mid-sheen finish that is at a mid-level of hard-wearing and durability. Often used instead of a high-sheen gloss due to the lower level of sheen that results from gloss. Satinwood has increased in popularity after providing a different kind of finish that appeals to those looking for a more modern finish.

Satinwood or satin is used for interior woodwork and metal due to it’s modern feel and hard-wearing characteristics. It is available in both water-based and oil-based solutions.

What is Eggshell Paint

Named after the surface of an egg, this paint gives a similar finish to that look and feel. Popular with those looking for a flat non-sheen paint finish throughout their home. 

The flat finish is very on-trend and while the paint may fit the look you’re trying to achieve be aware that it’s often not as hard-wearing as satin and definetely not as robust as gloss.

It can be used on woodwork or walls for a beautiful classic look to interiors.

Specialised Paint

While above we discussed the different paint types there are specialised paints that are designed for different uses. They feature a range of properties that make them suitable for a variety of applications.


Oil or water-based primer is used as an undercoat to allow paint to adhere correctly to the surface before the top coat is applied to the surface. Primers are available for specialised surfaces so check you select the correct one as they differ from wood, metal, plaster or tiles. You can also select an all-purpose primer that can be used for most surfaces.


An undercoat is usually applied ontop of a primer. It can be a base coat of the final paint you are using or a specialised undercoat for different surfaces.

Radiator Paint

Featuring heat-resistant properties that allows for a high-quality hard-wearing finish on radiators. Radiator paint is usually available in a tin or spray and provides a protective finish onto metal surfaces.