“Fastflow” is Crown Trade’s range of water-based paints for woodwork. They say it can be used for both interior and exterior jobs – personally I’ve only ever used it inside, so I’m not really qualified to comment on its suitability for use outside. In this blog I’m going to provide my honest Crown Trade Fastflow Paint review based on my own experience as a Decorator.
The range is simple and consists of just four products:
- Fastflow Quick Dry Primer-Undercoat
- Fastflow Quick Dry Eggshell
- Fastflow Quick Dry Satin
- Fastflow Quick Dry Gloss
Crown Trade Fastflow has been around for a while now – the Eggshell is the most recent addition to the range, and that first appeared in 2020 I think. Crown say that their objective was to come up with a range of paints with the benefits of water-based (low odour, quick drying, minimal VOC levels) but without some of the associated problems, specifically poor flow, poor wet-edge time (drying too quickly) and therefore lots of brush marks.
The aim was to come as close as possible to achieving the same flow as solvent-based paints. I’ve read mixed reviews, but I’ve used all of the paints in the Fastflow range, so I’ll work my way through each of them in turn. Obviously, just my opinions, but hopefully it will be of help or interest to someone.
Crown Trade Fastflow Quick Dry Primer-Undercoat Review
The Fastflow products were developed to be used as a system; one coat of primer-undercoat, followed by two top coats of eggshell, satin, or gloss in most situations.
However, there are plenty of situations where I wouldn’t actually use the Primer-Undercoat; if I was painting over old oil-based gloss with the Satin or Eggshell for example, I’d prep it thoroughly (good key), apply one coat of a good adhesion primer, and then straight on with two top coats.
On the tin of Fastflow Satin, Crown themselves say that if you’re painting onto existing satinwood, you can go straight on with two coats of the Fastflow Satin providing you give the surface a good key first. So, there are plenty of times when you wouldn’t need to use the Crown Trade Fastflow Primer-Undercoat. Which is a shame in some ways, because it’s actually a decent product.
I used it recently on some new natural wood cupboard doors. The Primer-Undercoat is fine to use straight out of the tin without diluting it. You can apply with a brush, roller or spray – on this occasion, as I had some quite large flat surfaces to cover, I used a mini-roller and then laid off with a brush.
Viscosity is fine, it’s not drippy, it’s very pleasant to use, and there is very little discernible odour. Unlike many primers, it has a 4 hour recoat time, which you need to be aware of; don’t expect to be starting your top coats half an hour later. When it is dry, it looks more like an undercoat than a primer to me, although I’d say the one downside of this product is that the opacity isn’t wonderful – it’s not bad, but not wonderful. I also used it recently on some “pre-primed” panel doors, and this photo will give you an idea of what the opacity is like. 7/10.
Crown Trade Fastflow Quick Dry Eggshell Review
I’m a bit of a fan of Fastflow Eggshell. It’s not something I use every day, or even every month, but I love it when I do get to use it. I think it’s one of the best eggshell paints you can use for woodwork. I’ve used it both in white and in colours, and always had good results every time.
Crown Trade Fastflow Quick Dry Eggshell is touch-dry in 1-2 hours and recoatable after 4. It can be applied by brush, microfibre roller or sprayed. I find it needs a good stir before use; it can separate out a bit, but that’s not a problem, just mix it well. It dries really quickly, but not so quickly that you can’t lay it off, so you can get a very good finish with this.
This loft hatch was brushed, just as an example of how nice the finish is. For some people, it may be a bit flatter than you’d expect for an eggshell, particularly compared with an oil-based eggshell; it is quite matt, but personally I like it.
Apparently, it can be used internally and externally; I haven’t tried it on an outside job, and personally I’d almost certainly go for Sandtex Flexi-Eggshell which is a great product, but that’s not to knock this one. 8/10
Crown Trade Fastflow Quick Dry Satin Review
The next product in my Crown Trade Fastflow Paint review is the satin, and I may owe someone an apology here. I think I’m on record as saying I don’t rate this product. But as I knew I was going to be writing this review, I thought I’d better buy a tin and give it another go, just to try to keep myself honest. And I was pleasantly surprised.
Looking back, I think it must have been one of the first water-based products I tried at the time when I started to change over from oil to water. Maybe my opinions were based more on the fact that I wasn’t used to water-based products. It certainly isn’t as bad as I had remembered it!
First impressions aren’t great when you open the tin – like the eggshell, it needs a really good stir, and the satin feels very thin and watery, which made be concerned that it would be “drippy” and have poor opacity.
To some extent those concerns were valid; in certain situations, Fastflow Satin can be prone to being a bit “drippy”, and the opacity isn’t the best in the world.
But when you look at the price, I’d still say it’s really good value for money; personally, I prefer it to a lot of more expensive water-based satins.
One final thing – don’t be concerned if you’re using it in white but it looks slightly purple when you first apply it; it does dry white! 7/10
Crown Trade Fastflow Quick Dry Gloss Review
The search for a water-based gloss that’s as good as oil-based goes on. But given Crown’s stated intention of trying to develop product that was as close to oil-based as possible, I thought I’d better give this one a go.
Like the satin, Crown Trade Fastflow Quick Dry Gloss feels a bit thin, so it is a bit prone to drips and runs if you’re not careful with your application, and opacity isn’t the best.
However, it’s worth persevering with it and getting the full “system” on (i.e. one coat of Crown Fastflow Primer-Undercoat followed by two coats of the Gloss) before passing judgment.
The second coat of Fastflow gloss makes a big difference to not only the opacity, but also the sheen level. The first gloss coat looked a bit “flat”, more like a shiny satin, but the second definitely enhanced the sheen as well as the opacity. It’s never easy trying to capture this in a photo, but hopefully this door will give you an impression of how it looks when finished – I’d call that a decent sheen level for a water-based product. 7/10
Crown set out to develop a range of paints with the benefits of water-based, but without some of the associated problems. Given that these aren’t premium-priced products, I think they’ve done a good job.
Low odour – yes.
Minimal VOCs – yes.
Quick drying, but also decent wet edge time – a tricky balance but I think they got it right; some of the recoat times are slightly longer than you would expect from a water-based product, but I don’t mind that as long as I’m aware of it and can plan my work accordingly, and if it helps produce a decent finish then I’m happy.
Technically, Crown Trade Fastflow Quick Dry products are hybrids (they contain a little bit of alkyd oil), but didn’t feel like it; there was none of that “sticky” feeling, and my brushes cleaned out in water without any problem at all. Given its position in the market, this range is a lot better than I expected, especially the Eggshell which is my personal favourite. Well worth giving it a try – it won’t break the bank!
Crown Trade Fastflow Paint Review For Decorators Forum UK
Robin Gofton – Wokingham Decorating Services