Using Exotic Paint Brands as a Decorator

Updated May 18, 2024 | Posted Sep 2, 2021 | Professional insight, Product Advice | 1 comment

It’s strange isn’t it, 10 years ago we all relied on the “big 3” paint brands for everything. Nowadays the list of brands and products is endless!! That’s not a bad thing; using exotic paint brands as a decorator gives you an edge. A selling point if you will, especially if you’re self-employed.

The modern decorator should have some knowledge of everything that’s out there and use it to his or her advantage.

Besides which, a lot of these paint brands and products perform a lot better than any of the “off the shelf” brands. Tikkurila Anti-Reflex or Teknos Teknoceiling for example, will cost roughly the same as vinyl matt, but perform better on a ceiling than anything at your local paint outlet.

Then you’ve got the water-based TRIM paints!! Benjamin Moore Scuff X, WRX satinwood or Teknos Futura will always give you a better finish because the technology is more advanced. These products are high-end and designed to work as well as they possibly can do.

You can explain all this to your clients. These are specialist products which your clients may have never encountered before. They will automatically establish you as the expert. You can talk them through the benefits of each product you’re going to use on the ceiling, walls and woodwork and why you’re using it.

If your client is getting more than one quote and your competition is offering Dulux or Johnstone’s, your exotic paint brands give you a clear advantage. You have more chance of being able to charge a premium for your work. It also helps when your client can’t find cheaper knock-off versions of your chosen brands at their local B&Q.

These are just my thoughts anyway. I enjoy trying the different paint brands that come up and comparing them to each other. I also enjoy using them to help convince my clients that I’m an expert at what I do.

The brands I’m familiar with and recommend using are WRX Trade Paint, Tikkurila and Teknos, but there are loads popping up.


Why Product Knowledge is Important as a Decorator


When I started in the trade some 20 years ago, paint was paint, and that’s it. We used Dulux for pretty much everything. The ceilings would be Armstead Contract Matt or Dulux Vinyl Matt. The walls would either be Dulux or Armstead Vinyl Matt, unless were decorating a kitchen or bathroom, then we’d use eggshell. Woodwork was oil-based satinwood or gloss.

The industry has changed somewhat. Not just because of all the modern paint brands, but the type of product seems to have changed too.

Now if I’m working in a room like a hallway which doesn’t receive a lot of natural light, I always recommend a good-quality water-based paint (not a hybrid) for the woodwork to prevent yellowing. I explain my product choice and the reasoning behind it to my client.

If I’m working in an open plan kitchen with loads of natural light, then I opt for a durable matt with a very low sheen like Tikkurila Optiva 3, Teknos Pro 5, or Dulux Diamond. Low sheen is important for an area like this; you may lose a little bit in terms of durability, but I know other durable matt products would show defects in light critical areas.

Tikkurila satinwood

If I’m spraying furniture that’s an awkward shape, I know that Tikkurila Helmi is an easy paint to use through an airless sprayer and achieve a good finish, even if I can’t get the coats totally even.

It isn’t just about using exotic paint brands as a Decorator, but product knowledge seems more important than ever. Choices aren’t simple anymore, and being able to navigate modern paint products to cherry pick the best for specific situations is vital. 

For me, using exotic paint brands is part of my day-to-day work as a decorator. I’m a product geek anyway, so I genuinely get excited when using something new. I know my craft and cherry pick the best products available for a particular job.

If you’re stuck in your ways when it comes to paint, I urge you to try something new. Use a specialist ceiling paint, or a hybrid gloss from Europe. You might just be pleasantly surprised.

This blog was written by Mike Gregory – Professional Decorator


The Vast Choice of Modern Paint Brands


There are certainly plenty of modern paint manufacturers to choose from nowadays!! When I was an apprentice there were just three main brands, plus a local Glasgow based manufacturer called Mathews, Maclay and Mansons. They made very good paints.

We have a vast choice of modern paint brands now, so we certainly cannot complain that we are short of choice. I am always keen to keep up to speed with the latest paints and products. I do a wide range of work and this means I have used products from many manufacturers.

For industrial/ structural work I’ve used Sigma coatings, Trimite, Internationals paints and of course Rust-Oleum / Mathys products. I’m even one of the few an approved applicators / contractors.

I’ve used Tikkurila industrial coatings recently as well. Very impressed!!

For masonry paints everyone thinks of Sandtex (yes, it’s fine ) but there are high performance paints for cast, render etc. Keim from Germany, Sika and the one I use Murfil from Mathys. A 100% water proof coating!!

Timber – Another field where manufacturers compete, and the big guys produce many many products. Sadolin, Sikkens (love their paints ) Valtti ( Tikkurila ) Jotun, Butinox, Demidekk, Glassurit, I’ve used them all.

The decorative paint industry is as competitive as the decorators pricing for the work. Industrial paint manufacturers have much better margins, so I am told. This makes sense to me as there are fewer companies in that game.  I’ve recently made my mind up about the brands I am happy to use when tackling day to day decorating jobs.

Paints that I can trust. Paints that will not give me grief. No bits of rubbish in the material. Good consistent quality and performance. A lot of decorators I know are not concerned if a job lasts or not. If it fails prematurely, they get back to do the job again. A lot of painters will always buy the cheapest paint. Increasing their margins and not really bothering about longevity, durability etc. Me, I want my work to look good long after the job is finished. I painted the outside of my house in Sikkens 7 years ago and it still looks mint now!!

The gloss still has a high sheen. The colour retention is incredible. Most red paints would have faded long ago. I’ve priced jobs and the potential customer says “oh it was painted two years ago”. Talking externals here by the way. So why is the paint failing?

The vast choice of modern paint brands isn’t the only difference I have noticed in the industry compared to when I started in the trade. Decorators have changed too. You see the specialist kitchen or uPVC sprayers, or those that work with Silk Plaster.

A homeowner can have any image blown up onto a digital mural, then installed by a professional in that field.

Clients want the cheapest price. I can understand this. However, is it really cheap if it lasts two years? Get a knowledgeable decorator and a skilled tradesman to put quality products on and you get “value “.

That’s the way I look at it.

So, I mainly use Dulux, Armstead and Tikkurila paints because they give me results. There are other brands I like for more specific tasks. Morrells for bar tops and doors. Osmo oil for doors. Smith and Rodgers for stains and priming woodwork. Teknos for the clients that can afford it.

Toupret for filling products. Quality paint brushes from staalmeester, oldfields, Wooster. Roller sleeves Picasso, Hamilton, Purdy. So many good products out there and I love trying them out. All these items are bought by guys like me that take a pride in their work. I’ve spent a hell of a lot of money on equipment, including power tools.

So, when choosing a contractor or decorator, find out if they really know the game and they’re not a chancer. I see vans with lists of all the jobs some guys do. Roofing, plumbing, tiling, gardening, painting, underwater basket weaving. Really, they can do all these trades? Doubt it

Stevie McFarlane

Professional Decorator

Updated May 18, 2024 | Posted Sep 2, 2021 | 1 comment

About the Author

About the Author

Mike Cupit has been in the decorating industry since 2002 and has mostly worked as a Trade Decorator in the domestic sector (peoples’ homes). Self-proclaimed “product geek”, Mike has a passion for paint and decorating tools. Mike now spends most of his time testing paint products and tools, comparing them to similar products on the market, and blogging about the industry in general.

1 Comment

  1. Richard

    Its sometimes a double edged sword as customers not heard of these brands and wonder why you not using Dulux …
    Cue lots questions and the power of duluxs marketing so strong it can be a struggle at times.


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