How to choose the right paint finish

You’ve picked out your colour swatches, played with a few sample pots and the brushes and rollers are ready to go. Now you need to choose the right type of paint for the different surfaces in your home.

Base camp

The majority of paint finishes are water-based, often also called acrylic paints. This means you can use water to dilute the paint (for example, if using a paint sprayer) and to wash out brushes and rollers.

Oil-based paints (also called solvent-based) take longer to dry and give off a stronger smell, due to their higher VOC (volatile organic compound) content. Mineral turpentine or a similar appropriate thinner is required to clean your brushes. 

Water-based enamels are increasingly taking over from high-gloss, solvent-based enamels, according to Bonnie Jenkinson, Dulux interior product manager. “People are gaining a preference for water-based products due to the ease of water wash-up, faster drying times and low odour during application,” she explains.

Read it: How to determine your paint requirements

What are VOCs?

Paints have traditionally been a major source of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). “When you walk into a freshly painted or renovated house, often the odours you’re picking up are due to VOCs coming from the materials,” says Josh Plautz, Dulux interior paint expert.

These odours usually diffuse over time and disperse into the outdoors. Low-VOC paints are becoming more available. “A low-VOC coating is formulated to avoid the use of VOCs, meaning they won’t be present in the first place,” he says.

“The change has mainly been made possible by the switch to water-based paints. This means you can get back to using rooms faster and your family has lower exposure to these chemicals. Great news if you want to avoid unwanted chemicals or have any chemical sensitivities.”

paint colours in your room

Lustre for life

Paints come in a range of sheen levels, from high gloss to satin, semi-gloss and low sheen, and flat or matt. 

“The main thing that gives a paint its sheen is the ratio between pigments and binder,” Bonnie explains. Gloss enamel paint is often preferred for timber trims while semi-gloss water-based paint is popular for walls. Ceilings are usually painted in a matt or flat formulation, which helps to disperse light more evenly and hide imperfections, like joints between plasterboard sheets.

Watch it: How to paint a ceiling

For an ultra-matt look, chalk paint – such as Dulux Design Chalk Effect or Rust-Oleum Chalked – makes a powerful statement for upcycled furniture and can be sanded back slightly for a gorgeous distressed effect.

Wall and peace

Traditionally, semi-gloss has been the preferred sheen level for walls, with a good balance of being easy to clean and creating a sleek, smooth finish. “Higher sheen paints have more binder than pigment, giving the paint extra washability,” says Bonnie Jenkinson.

Advances in technology mean it’s now possible to find lower sheen level paints that are also easy to clean. For example,  PPG Paint Endure range includes a matt finish that is both stain resistant and highly washable.

Watch it: How to paint

 
paint colours in your room
Mustard yellow is best friends with navy.

Trim and neat

Timber trims around a home, such as skirting boards, architraves and window frames, are usually subjected to more wear and tear than walls. So, it’s wise to use a hard-wearing enamel paint for these features, particularly skirtings.

“These areas are high foot-traffic parts of the home, so they’re prone to bumps and scrapes, making it important to choose the right product for the job,” says Kelly Magee, senior brand manager for British Paints. Products such as British Paints Paint & Prime Doors Windows & Trims give an ultra-smooth look that should stand the test of time. 
Though generally not as tough or as glossy as an oil-based paint, water-based enamel, such as Dulux Aquanamel, is another good option for trims. Doors tend to cop a bit of abuse as well, so tough enamel paint is a good option. “Dulux Aquanamel and Super Enamel (our Dulux oil-based option) are typically used in semi-gloss and gloss sheen levels for door applications,” says Bonnie.

Watch it: How to paint trims

Pro tip

The easiest way to paint a door is to remove it from its hinges, mask off the handles and place it on a set of sawhorses.

Watch it: How to paint a door

paint colours in your room
A splashback panel provides art and colour. Bellessi Motiv Polymer bathroom panel in Manhattan Blues.

Outdoor types

For painting weatherboards and similar exterior surfaces, choose a paint formulated to tolerate the harsh Aussie sun, such as Taubmans All Weather or Dulux Weathershield. Both of these are water-based exterior paints that can be applied directly to most surfaces without requiring a coat of primer first.

Good exterior paints will feature protection from UV light and resistance to dirt and mould, and even the salty air of a seaside environment. 

Watch it: How to paint your house’s exterior

Find your colour

Check out our full range of paint and accessories and start your own paint project today.

Photography credits: Taubmans, British Paints, Dulux Australia and Lisa Cohen.

Scrape the walls 01:51

Preparation How to prepare walls for painting Good preparation is the key to any painting project. We’ll show you a few of the basic steps involved in preparing a wall for painting to make the job much easier.

paint poured into tray

How To Paint How to determine your paint requirements How to determine your paint requirements

Start painting by cutting in the edges 04:07

How To Paint How to paint a bathroom Give your bathroom a makeover with a fresh coat of paint. In this video we’ll show you how to paint your bathroom ceiling and walls without any fuss.

paint brushes 02:03

Preparation How to choose paint brushes and rollers In this video, Bron from Bunnings Warehouse describes the different types of paint brushes available.

Store your clean paint brush 02:21

How To Paint How to clean paint brushes You can save a lot on paint projects just by looking after your brushes. We’ll show you how to clean your brushes to get the most out of them.

colour scheme

Guides & Projects Create a colour scheme for your home A new coat of paint can make a huge difference to your home. Colour Expert from Dulux to get some tips on how to choose the colour scheme that’s right for you.

Backyard patio

Guides & Projects How to choose a paint colour for your outdoors If you want to spruce up your home and give it some curb appeal, painting the exterior a new colour can really add value. Whether you’re just looking for a change or preparing to sell, Andrea from Dulux has some advice on how to choose the right col...

Kitchen

How To Paint How to paint a kitchen benchtop with dulux Dulux® Renovation Range Tiles & Benchtops is a revolutionary, water based interior coating that is perfect for transforming your benchtop.

diy bookcase 03:22

Shelving & Storage How to build a D.I.Y. bookcase This D.I.Y. bookcase might be the perfect solution for your storage needs. It’s easy to make and its minimalist look will suit almost any room. Find out how with Bunnings.

bedside 02:54

Bedroom D.I.Y. copper and timber bedside table This copper bedside table will add a modern touch of style to your bedroom and it is easy to make.

closet and storage ideas

Bedroom Cut the clutter with a closet clear out Cut the clutter with these expert storage tips to help you get more from your wardrobe.

How to update window mullions 02:04

Bedroom How to update window mullions It may not be in your vernacular just yet, but a window mullion is the aluminium that holds your window to its frame! They’re super easy to update, just follow these steps and they’ll look good as new in no time.

Copper Jewellery Stand 02:02

Bedroom D.I.Y. copper jewellery stand Keep your jewellery all in one place with just a few spare plumbing parts and a bit of timber. You can make this stylish copper jewellery stand. Read more at Bunnings.

Person attaching the drawer handle 06:02

Bedroom How to assemble a wardrobe insert unit Learn how to assemble a shelf and drawer unit for a wardrobe. Just follow our step-by-step guide.

Man measuring the position of the water pipes 02:25

Laundry How to install a laundry cabinet Learn how to measure and fit a laundry cabinet. We’ll show you how to cut holes for pipes and drainage and attach the cabinet to your wall.

Workspace

Study A workspace fit for any room Whether you need a nook to do family admin or a room for running your fledgling business empire, it’s possible to carve out a great workspace in any home.

hydrangea

Planting & Growing How to create an allergy-friendly garden If you suffer from hay fever or other allergies, then being out in the garden can, at times, be less than enjoyable. But there are some steps you can take to create an allergy-friendly garden so you can spend more time gardening and less time sneezi...

pot

Planters How to choose the right plant pot Pots are a great way to add colour, interest or texture to your outdoor space. Tuscan Path’s Elaine Foster shares her top tips on how to choose the perfect pot.

sunflower

Planting & Growing How to plant and care for sunflowers Sunflowers are a great way to add colour to your garden, and they’re easy to grow and care for. Bunnings Greenlife buyer Katie explains the basics of how to grow sunflowers and shares some tips on how to care for them.

paint

Guides & Projects How to upcycle almost any piece of furniture with paint Rather than throwing out old household items, you can restore them with paint. It’s a quick, easy and affordable way to give anything from furniture to fences a new lease on life. Learn how to paint and prepare different surfaces to get the finish y...

DIY balcony and courtyard garden

Planters D.I.Y. balcony and courtyard garden Even if your outdoor space is limited to a balcony or courtyard, it doesn’t mean you have to miss out on having a garden. The team at Tuscan Path, who have been supplying pots to the Australian marketplace for over 40 years, share some ideas on how ...

 kitchen benchtop materials

Benchtops & Cabinets A guide to kitchen benchtop materials The perfect benchtop will add style to any kitchen. It’ll also see the most action, so choosing the right benchtop for your kitchen – and budget – is an important decision explains Bunnings Kitchen Designer Ben Carey.

Top of the content