Importance of Good Quality Paint When Decorating

Updated May 18, 2024 | Posted Jan 16, 2023 | Product Advice, Professional insight | 1 comment

I’ve been a decorator for the best part of 20 years, 10 of which I have spent self-employed. So, I know better than most that the range of paint available in the UK can be quite overwhelming.

Not only are there hundreds of different brands, but the price range between two comparable products can be vast. So, the question on everyone’s lips; is it worth paying more money for better paint? Is good quality paint important when decorating, or is it all pretty much the same? This blog will clear things up for you.


The Different Paint Products for Different Markets


There are three paint markets in the UK; You have retail paint, trade paint and designer paint. They’re all manufactured to different budgets and have been developed for different types of consumer. It’s important to understand the difference.


Retail Paint

Retail paint is made to a tight budget and compromises massively on quality. You’ll find retail paint in DIY stores like B&Q and is mostly bought by homeowners and people who do not understand what they’re buying. A manufacturer will look at what price a retail paint needs be for it to sell large quantities, then stick to that budget when making the paint.


Trade Paint

Trade paint is a step up from retail. You’ll find it in Trade Paint shops, and it is predominantly used by painters and decorators. This type of paint is more expensive than retail but will perform much better.


Designer Paint

Designer paint is a step up from trade in terms of price, but not always quality. It is available from a variety of different stores and predominantly sold to clientele a decorator might call “high-end retail”.


Is Good Quality Paint Important When Decorating?


Sorry, only just getting down to the original question; The quality of your paint is VERY important when you’re decorating. Cheap paints will not perform as well as good paint. You may need to spend a bit more cash on the materials when decorating a room, but your finish will be much better and it is likely to last longer.


Trade Paint Vs Retail Paint


I thought it might be an idea to pitch each type of paint against each other to make it simpler. The trade Vs retail argument is a great place to start. Valspar, Dulux, Crown and Johnstone’s all make both retail and trade versions of their products. The way to tell them apart is the word “trade” on the tin.


Let’s use emulsion as the comparison. More specifically, a tin of retail matt emulsion Vs a trade vinyl matt emulsion.

The tin of retail matt will…

Contain less polymer binders, so your painted walls will be prone to scuffing.

Contain less pigments, so you may need to apply an extra coat to get it to cover.

Contain cheaper solids, so your painted walls may show defects such as flashing or picture framing.

Cost maybe £30 a tin cheaper. So, is it worth it? You can save yourself £30 on a tin of paint, but you’ll be left with a substandard finish which won’t last as long.

Is Dulux from B&Q good paint?
is it worth paying more for good quality paint?

One more comparison? Let’s go retail Vs trade masonry paint.

The tin of retail masonry paint will…

Contain a cheaper polymer, which won’t allow your substrate to breath, so may well start to peel.

Contain cheaper pigments, so will discolour quicker.

Will break down sooner, so you will need to paint your exterior stonework again sooner.


Trade Vs Designer Paint


So, we know trade paint is much better than retail, and will lead to a better finish. But is designer paint better quality than trade? This isn’t a very easy question to answer. You see trade paint may be more expensive than retail, but it’s still a competitive part of the market. Decorators weigh up quality Vs price and buy accordingly. So, manufacturers need to produce the best trade paint they can for that price bracket.

is designer paint better than trade paint?

Designer paint is a lot more brand focused. There’s a lot of money spent on clever marketing tactics, rather than a manufacturer developing the best paint they possibly can. The upshot of this is some trade paints outperform their designer counterparts.

That isn’t to say that assessment works across the board. There are a few designer paints which are fantastic quality and perform brilliantly. Coat and Earthborn Clay Paint are perfect examples. Yes, they’re expensive, but they’ll leave you with an amazing finish every time!

What Paint do I Use?


It’s a no-brainer for me. I’m lucky because I get to play around with a wide range of paints, but 90% of the time, I stick to trade. Believe me when I say that using a good quality paint is important. Trade paint is the perfect balance between performance and price.

I do not see any plausible reason for someone to go for the cheaper option. For the sake of a few quid, go for materials that will last.


What are the Best Paints?


I thought I’d take a little bit of time to explain some of the paint products I think are the best quality. This part of the blog is based on my own experience and preference, but if you follow my advice, you won’t go far wrong.

Ceiling Emulsion

The best emulsion for a ceiling in my opinion is Tikkurila Anti-Reflex. The opacity isn’t great, but the overall finish is luxuriously flat and shows no defects. Available online by clicking here.


Wall Emulsion

Teknos Pro5 is a durable matt emulsion with a great depth of colour. You’ll find it cheaper than designer brands, but gives a finish as good, or better than anything else on the market. Plus, if you order it online by clicking here, you’ll be able to get it matched into any other brand’s colour (thank me later).



The best quality satinwood is probably Benjamin Moore Scuff X, but it is expensive. This is a water-based products which you can use directly on top of old oil-based paint. Available online by clicking here.

If you want a satinwood that’s still good quality, but is cheaper, then you should look at WRX satin. Only available in “Brilliant White”, but it gives you a great finish and it’s very durable. Available online by clicking here.


Cheap Paint Helps Nobody


As a professional decorator, the one bit of advice I can tell you is that cheap paint helps nobody. It doesn’t make sense to me; for the sake of saving a few quid on paint to do a room, you’re effectively compromising on performance, which can lead to problems. To emphasize this point, I’m going to tell you a little story about a job I completed recently….

I’m not really so happy with the way this decorating job turned out. I was subcontracted and on a tight schedule.

The ceilings and walls were freshly plastered and Stevie Wonder wearing boxing gloves could have done better job! It was awful!

If I was carrying out this painting for one of my own clients, I would have got my hawk and trowel out, then skim costed filler over it all. It’s the only way this job was ever going to turn out well.

But as I said. I was under instructions from the main contractor and on a tight schedule. I can only do what I’m told to.

I did spend a few hours filling the worst of it. This was extra prep at my own expense, but I couldn’t just paint over what was there. My professional pride wouldn’t let me!! Sorry kids, we’ve only got rice to eat this week, but Mrs Jones has flatter walls!!

I applied a mist coat, filled then used my dustless Sanding kit. Then I applied two coats of Valspar V700 in white to the ceilings, and a tinted colour to the walls.

The satinwood I’d been given was Dulux retail!! Nasty stuff, no opacity and turns yellow over a very short space of time!!

All paints were supplied. I have to stop this lark of letting clints supply the materials. I’m a professional decorator, I should only use trade paint!!

Cheap paint does not help and you should avoid it at all costs!! The finish is poor, you need to apply more coats, you use more paint anyway and your finished paint job will not look new for very long. Yellowing woodwork and walls which are easy to scuff will have your room looking tatty again within the year.

So folks, it’s a false economy getting cheap paint.

Hunter Seabass

Professional Decorator

Updated May 18, 2024 | Posted Jan 16, 2023 | 1 comment

About the Author

About the Author

Mike Gregory is a Professional Painter and Decorator who works in the Northwest of England. He mainly sub-contracts for large decorating firms and works on a wide variety of projects.

1 Comment

  1. Richard

    The WRX water based satin pretty good tough gear and well worth trying it also fly’s on pretty quickly compared other trade QD satins.
    It absolutely knocks spots off Dulux trade diamond satin.


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