Have you wondered why you paint windows, doors and trims with a different paint to the walls?

Well hopefully by the end of this article you will have a better understanding

Traditionally paints used in house painting where oil based, they offered a hard-wearing quality product. They were glossy and this offered durability and were easy to clean marks or dirt off by wiping. However, they do have a downside, cleaning up paint brushes and spills is difficult, they have a very strong smell, and they are also prone to discolouration in UV light.

When water based, acrylic paints came about they alleviated these problems, but unfortunately were not very hard wearing in comparison. They were used only on the large areas such as ceilings and walls.

Now this leads to the reason why we use a different paint on windows, doors, and trims. These are the areas in your home which get the most wear and tear. Just think about all the dirty hands on the doors, bags and equipment hitting doors frames, using windowsills as shelves, and the vacuum hitting the skirting boards. By using a harder wearing enamel paint, you reduce the amount of visible damage and make them easier to clean.

Water-based enamels vs oil-based enamels

Technology has come a long way with water-based enamels, but there are still the die hards who believe oil based is better. In general, oil-based paints are harder wearing, but harder to clean up and have a much stronger smell. Many people also like to be environmentally friendly, and oil-based paints are not the best for this. Another big issue with oil-based enamels is that you can’t paint over them with a water-based paint without special preparation.  

In comparison, modern water-based enamels are actually very hard wearing, plus they are easy to clean up and smell much less. They are also recognised as being better environmentally in most cases. I would recommend using a water-based enamel where enamel paint work is to be carried out.

Painting wooden windows

Which gloss level paint should I use for enamel work?

The current trend is to use paints that have as little sheen as possible, even flat or matt where possible. But even with the latest paints, the glossier they are, the harder wearing and easier to clean they are. The common practice is to use a semi-gloss enamel paint, as this is a good compromise. As well as not looking as modern, high gloss paints will show any imperfections in paint work clearly.

Painting house interior doors

If water-based enamels are hard wearing and easy to clean, can I paint all my walls and ceilings with enamel paint?

Of course, you can paint the walls and ceilings any paint you want, but I would discourage using the semi-gloss paint you use on the windows, doors, and trims. This is because these large surfaces will reflect lots of light, in turn the rooms will have lots of reflection. The higher gloss level will also show all the imperfections, but there is an alternative. Aalto paints produce a lowsheen and matt water-based enamel paint you can use on walls and ceilings, in fact it is what we recommend to our clients and use in our own home. We still use a higher gloss level on the windows, doors, and trims, but now have a harder wearing and easier to clean paint on all surfaces. Who knows maybe as technology improves, we will be able to paint the whole house in a flat water-based enamel that is just as hard wearing and easy to wash!

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