tips and tricks3 min read

Types of paint and when to use them

WordsMaha Elley


Although paint seems like a simple enough substance, choosing the right paint for your home decor project may turn out to be more of a complex decision than you thought. There are quite a few different types of paint to choose from, from different textures and bases to different finishes. And then, there’s primer. 

Let us simplify matters for you. Navigate the world of paint using our mini-guide to the most popular types of paint below. 


Gloss paint is, quite literally, glossy and reflective paint. It’s known for being durable and is usually oil-based. Choose from two levels of shine based on your particular gloss preferences: semi-gloss and high-gloss. Gloss paint suits woodwork and looks especially impressive in paler colours. It also contrasts nicely with more matt surfaces, so don’t be afraid to mix and match. 

(Tip: Make sure you’ve sanded down and smoothed away any bumps or before applying gloss paint to a surface - it tends to highlight imperfections.)

Check out our how-to page for more information on how to paint wood and other surfaces.

Durable matt 

Durable matt paint has a smooth texture and offers a paper-like finish that couldn’t be more different to glossy paint if it tried. The zero-shine finish doesn’t reflect an ounce of light, making it a good choice to cover up any imperfections. Like a classic style of decor? Opt for durable matt for your common living areas. 

Eggshell paint finish

The clue is in the name with this one. An eggshell paint finish is similar to the surface of, well, an eggshell. It’s not as high sheen as satin or gloss, and not nearly as matt as durable matt. If you want crisp looking walls and a safe bet, grab yourself a few tins of eggshell wipeable paint. Eggshell makes for excellent kitchen, bathroom or skirting board paint.

Check out how to paint skirting boards here.


What is primer paint? Primer is applied as the very first coat on a bare wall. Its primary purpose is to help the coloured paint coats stick to the surface, but it also helps hide any unsightly stains and results in an overall more professional finish. 

(Tip: We’ve carefully developed a self-priming range of paint to save you the hassle of the additional priming step. With Lick paint, you’ll only need a coat of primer on highly bare wood, metal or porous surfaces.)


Sheen paint finish refers to the gloss level of the paint. Opt for higher sheen paints if you’d like your surfaces shiny. Different types of sheens include matt, eggshell and gloss. 


Satin is a paint finish with a medium sheen. It reflects a bit of light and is often used for wooden surfaces such as window frames and skirting boards. It’s quite effective at covering up imperfections if you’re dealing with a less-than-perfect surface. 

(Read our tips on how to paint skirting boards)


Another ‘mid-sheen’ finish, silk paint is also usually wipeable - making it a practical choice for busy households. It’s most often used on interior walls. Make sure you smooth away any bumpy bits before painting with a silk finish - it tends to highlight imperfections. 

Masonry paint 

Masonry paint is most often used on the exterior surfaces of a property. It’s an acrylic-based paint that’s formulated for toughness and weather-resistance. Expect it to stick firmly onto even the roughest and most difficult surfaces.

Now that you know the different types of paint, learn how to paint a wall. Want to paint over some old wallpaper? Read our guide on how to paint over wallpaper, or check out our advice on whether to paint or wallpaper, if you are unsure.