A Guide to Choosing the Right Paint

Posted: Oct 16 2020

Study with Pink Slip walls and monochromatic rug

Unsure which paint is best for your project? Here are some handy tips to help you choose the right paint finish and prevent costly mistakes!

Firstly, the type of paint you choose is just as important as the colour. The location of the room, its use, its size and the look you want to create are all things to consider as they affect the sheen of your paint and its colour saturation. 

But with so many paint brands to choose from it's hard to know where to start!

For a comprehensive range of colours available in an array of quality finishes, we love Little Greene. Whilst it isn't the cheapest paint out there, it's really worth investing in a premium paint for good coverage and a beautiful finish. 

 Little Greene painted blocks

Contact us for a free colour chart. Or for help choosing colours we offer a Colour Consultancy Service.

Next step after choosing your colours is to try them out in situ against your furnishings and see how the colour responds to light in your space.

Paint Tester Pots
When choosing paint colours it’s always worth investing in sample pots. A tiny chip on a colour card is no match for seeing a colour on your walls, and a sample pot gives just enough paint to get a good feel for the colour in your room. 

Little Greene paint tester pots

When using a sample, apply two coats to large piece of card or lining paper (min A4 in size) so that you can see the intended depth of colour, and move the colour around the room to see how the light plays on it. Does it create the mood you want? Is it too dark or too light?

Avoid painting your sample pots straight onto the wall – it’s hard to tell all those sample stripes apart, and then you have to cover them up!

Water-based Paint vs Oil Paint?

Oil-based paints have been used for hundreds of years and offer the classic finish for woodwork. By forming a deeper bond with the surface than is possible with a quick-drying paint, traditional oil-based recipes are renowned for their increased longevity, excellent flow on the brush and smooth finish. They do however, take ages to dry and cleaning up brushes with white spirit is a messy, smelly job!

Bright landing with blue painted floorboards and white walls

Water-based paints are faster drying than oil-based paints. Traditionally they have been used solely on walls, but with a worldwide commitment towards more environmentally friendly paints water-based options with lower VOC (volatile organic compounds) content are now available for every surface of your home - inside and out!

Little Greene offers a comprehensive range of water-based Intelligent paints which look and behave much like oil-based options because they have good levelling qualities for a smooth finish but are all low odour and certified as Child Safe under BS EN 71-3: 2013 (also known as the Toy Paint Regulations).

The Intelligent range includes paints for interior walls, woodwork, cabinets and radiators, and floors.

For outside projects there are exterior paints perfect for front doors, fencing and your new WFH space – the garden shed!

Painted Garden Shed with brightly coloured table and chairs

Which Paint Finish?

Traditionally glossy finishes are generally deemed more durable than matt finishes, especially on woodwork. With newer paints however, durability has improved regardless of sheen level allowing people to become more experimental and use paint to create impact and texture within a room scheme.

There are 4 levels of sheen to consider – Matt, Eggshell, Satinwood and Gloss:

i) Matt

The recent trend has been for flat matt paint with a slightly chalky finish. Matt paint holds colour really well and can look velvety in certain lights giving a luxurious finish, especially in darker muddy hues. With lighter, neutral shades, colours can shift in different light conditions making it hard to choose the right colour!

Matt is the least reflective sheen available and is great for hiding minor imperfections but it can be prone to scuffing. It is designed for use on walls and typically isn’t suitable for wood or metal, although Little Greene’s Flat Oil Eggshell offers a very matt finish for these surfaces.

For anywhere that gets a lot of traffic, Little Greene’s Intelligent Matt Emulsion is 15 times tougher than ordinary matt emulsion and washable. It has a 5% sheen level and we recommend it for open plan living areas, hallways, children’s bedrooms, kitchens and bathrooms.

For quieter living rooms, dining rooms and bedrooms, Little Greene’s Absolute Matt Emulsion is dead flat with a 3% sheen level. It’s wipe-able but to protect the matt finish it’s best to keep furniture a couple of centimetres away from the walls to avoid scuffs.


ii) Eggshell:

Eggshell offers a softer finish than gloss and is ideal on woodwork and radiators paired with flat chalky walls.

With a 15% sheen level it can also be used on walls to bounce available light around a space. Dark colours glow on the walls creating a cocooning effect.

This reflectivity means woodwork and walls must be well-prepared as the sheen will highlight any niggling imperfections!
From a practical point of view, eggshell is fully washable so is ideal for bathrooms that have limited extraction and are prone to condensation.
We like Little Greene’s Intelligent Eggshell which is water-based and fast drying.

Painted wood panelled hallway

iii) Satinwood:

Satinwood has a slightly higher sheen level than eggshell at 20% and is a popular choice for kitchen cabinets and painted furniture, especially with the current popularity of darker hues in kitchens. Little Greene's new Intelligent Satinwood is tough and hardwearing to withstand the knocks of every day life, and being fast drying means less interruption when renovating your kitchen cabinets! 

Kitchen cabinets

iv) Gloss:

Gloss paint has a sheen level of 75% - 80% so is considerably shinier than eggshell and satinwood. It is super tough and fully washable, and traditionally used on skirtings, window frames, mouldings and doors.

It can also be used on walls and ceiling to create a statement, producing an almost lacquer like finish - beautiful in a bedroom or cloakroom.

Or to create texture on a wall, say with a broad stripe in the same colour against matt. 

Bright yellow front door

How Much Paint Will I Need?

Paint coverage varies according to the chosen finish and the texture and porosity of the surface being painted.

As a rule of thumb, two coats should be sufficient for most jobs.

Little Greene paints have excellent coverage and are formulated on a high-opacity base with up to 40% more pigment than many ordinary paints - while they might seem more expensive than DIY shed brands a little goes a long way!

One litre of Little Greene Intelligent water-based paint will cover 6-7 square metres with two coats (or 12-14 square metres with one coat).

One litre of Little Greene oil-based paint will cover up to 8 square metres with two coats.

Where priming is required (most woodwork jobs require priming to prepare the surface) using a coat of tinted Primer Undercoat will significantly help you achieve a full and accurate depth of colour, whilst also priming the surface underneath.

If you have any questions on paint finishes or paint quantities in your home, or would like help choosing a colour scheme, please do Contact Us, we'd be happy to help you!


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