Water-Based Satinwood Comparison Guide

Updated Mar 29, 2024 | Posted Apr 3, 2021 | Product Review, Paints | 2 comments

Water-based satinwood paints are becoming more and more popular in peoples’ homes for a few reasons. Not least because water-based paints have improved vastly in recent years (I’ll get into that in the next section).

As a Professional Decorator of over 20 years, I thought I’d sit down and write a quick guide on some of the best water-based satinwood paints available in the UK. I hope it helps.


Why Choose Water-Based Satinwood


In 2010, the EU brought in restrictions on the amount of chemicals known as VOCs a manufacturer is allowed to use in oil-based paint. This meant that the quality of oil-based paint dropped, and the issue of ‘yellowing’ became very apparent.

At the time, water-based paints weren’t up to scratch really. You’d have issues with ‘levelling off’, and the finish would often look cheap. Paint conditioners did help, but it still wasn’t great.

It’s different now; you do need to be selective about which water-based satinwood you use, but providing you go for a good one, you’ll easily achieve a finish comparable (or better) than that of oil-based.

There are other benefits to using water-based satinwood. It’s quick and easy to apply, better for the environment, and easier to clean up. Satin is also the most popular paint finish for interior woodwork in the UK.

Now you have a bit of background on products, let’s get into the water-based satinwood comparison guide.


Johnstone’s Aqua Satin


Johnstone’s Aqua is probably the brand leader amongst decorators. However, you may be surprised to learn it isn’t fully water-based, rather a hybrid. This means although the product is advertised as “water-based”, it also contains a little bit of alkyd (oil). Johnstone’s Aqua satinwood will still yellow and discolour over time, however it will last a lot longer than most oil-based alternatives.

It is a bit of a brush wrecker too I’m afraid, however you can get around this by keeping a bucket of water close by and wetting your brush every now and again. Other than the two negatives I’ve just mentioned, Johnstone’s Aqua is a great product. Flows well, looks good, can be tinted and it is durable. Average 5/10 from me. Click here to see latest prices.


Johnstone’s Aqua Guard


Unlike the Aqua, Aqua Guard is a fully water-based system. It’s very good paint too!! I’d go as far as saying it’s the best “off the shelf” option there is. You need to use Aqua undercoat before using the Aqua Guard on previously painted surfaces. You’ll find this satinwood incredibly easy to use and leaves a fantastic finish. It’s mega durable too, so your painted surface will last for years.

9/10 from me. A very good product. Anyone can get a good finish with this paint. Click here to see latest prices.


Dulux Diamond Satinwood


Dulux Diamond is a fully water-based tintable satinwood, available online or from any DDC. It was an awesome product when they first launched it, but they’ve played about with the formula since then. You will need an adhesion primer before applying Diamond satinwood over a previously painted surface and ninja runs are a pain!! You will need to keep going back over your work to knock out any drips. The overall finish is good though and I have no issues with using this paint if asked. 6/10


WRX Trade Satinwood


WRX Trade Satinwood is genuinely one of the best acrylic satins I have ever used. Fully water-based and no separate adhesion primer needed over old oil-based paint. Opacity is good, ease of use is great and the finish is spectacular. The only downside is it’s only available in brilliant white. This is a fantastic paint and one I use on a regular basis. It’s reasonably priced too. Available on Amazon by clicking here.

9/10 from me.


Tikkurila Helmi 30


Helmi 30 is a fully water-based satinwood. The big issue I find with this paint is it is very loose, meaning it can be difficult to control. Tikkurila have their own primers and you should use the full paint system. There are better water-based satins out there if you are applying your paint via brush and roller. However, Helmi 30 comes into its own when applied through an airless sprayer. 6/10

Teknos Futura 40


Teknos Futura Aqua 40 is another hybrid, so it will yellow over time. That said, I bet it lasts for 10 years or more before discolouring. You must use the designated primer before using the Futura 40 for adhesion and opacity reasons. This is a fantastic water-based satinwood product, and one I use regularly. The overall finish is brilliant.

Another 9/10. Click here to see current prices.


Best Tools to Apply Water-Based Satinwood


Water-based satinwood is generally a lot easier to apply that water-based gloss. That said, having the correct tools for the job will make life a lot easier. You’ll also be able to achieve a better finish. You will need a brush that holds its shape but is soft enough to ‘lay-off’ your paint. You will also need a mini roller for any larger surfaces such as doors.

My favourite brush for water-based satinwood is probably the Purdy Monarch Elite XL. It holds loads of paint and is easy to work with. Absolutely perfect for this type of work. Click here to see latest prices.

As for the roller, you won’t go far wrong with the Two Fussy Blokes 5mm nap. It’s a favourite amongst professional decorators, and you will be able to achieve a spray-like finish. Click here to see latest prices.


Final Thoughts


I love a good water-based satinwood comparison blog. I think I’ve included all the good mainstream products on this list. The only other one worth checking out is probably Benjamin Moore Scuff X, which is very expensive, but is supposed to be the best on the market. I couldn’t include Scuff X because I haven’t used it enough to give an informed review.

Water-Based Satinwood Comparison Guide – by Mike Gregory

Updated Mar 29, 2024 | Posted Apr 3, 2021 | 2 comments


  1. Jack Wardley

    got to be oil based for me waterborn alkyds and acrylics both mess your brushes up oil brushes last so much longer and yes i am talking about pure bristle

  2. Richard

    You would think one of the big 3 paint companies would buy or at least attempt to copy WRX satin. It would increase their sales tremendously if managed get it right on such a core product..
    Johnstones trade also do an non yellowing fully Acyrlic satin separate from sightly yellowing Aqua system.


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