What Paint do Professionals Use?

Updated May 13, 2024 | Posted Jul 30, 2022 | Professional insight, Product Advice | 2 comments

I’m a professional decorator, and an avid blogger for DFUK. It’s fair to say I’m a decorating geek! I just love paint and over the years I’ve used just about every mainstream brand available in the UK. I like to spec my own jobs too, meaning when I do a decorating job for a client, I provide the materials and I only ever use the products I know perform well.

In this blog, I’m going to give you a little insight into what paint professionals use. Not just myself (although some of this blog will be opinion based), but I have my ear to the ground when it comes to the products other professional decorators use too.

The most important thing to remember is a professional will always use TRADE paint, rather than retail. In basic terms, paint manufacturers like Dulux, Crown and Johnstone’s will produce cheaper paint for retail customers which they sell from places like B&Q, and more expensive trade paints which are sold from places like the Paint Shed and other trade counters.

Anyway, let’s get started!


What Ceiling Paint do Professionals Use?


I could talk about ceiling paint for hours!! Around 10 years ago it really didn’t matter what paint you used on a ceiling, providing it was some sort of matt emulsion. Now, due to changes in paint formulas, you can experience some issues when painting ceilings such as flashing and picture framing.

That’s where specialist ceiling paints come in! A specialist ceiling paint is designed to work as well as it possibly can on a ceiling. By using something like this, you know you’re going to achieve an amazing finish every time. There are three ceiling paints you should look out for.


Tikkurila Optiva 3 is a slightly less durable, but more luxurious emulsion paint for walls. This leaves a chalky finish with no imperfections at all. I use this paint in all my high-end jobs because I know my clients are going to be amazed by the results.


What Paint do Professionals Use for Interior Woodwork?


You have various options here, depending on the desired finish. I like to stick with water-based because of the issues you can experience with oil-based paints yellowing. Around 58% of professionals use water-based for the same reasons (research carried out by DFUK).

WRX Satin is an amazing satinwood and very popular for internal woodwork. WRX satin adheres well to old oil-based coatings, is easy to use and looks great. It does craze on caulk, so be careful when using it. Oh, and only available in Brilliant White. WRX satinwood is a good product and great value for money. Available online by clicking here.

Johnstone’s Aqua Guard, not to be confused with Johnstone’s Aqua, is a fully water-based satinwood available in white or any colour from any brand. This product gives a great finish which is very durable. This is probably the most popular water-based satin with other professional decorators. Available online by clicking here.

Teknos Futura Aqua 90 is a hybrid gloss, meaning it is primarily water-based, but with a little bit of alkyd oil in there to help with the sheen. This is the only quick dry gloss I like, and it is very easy to achieve a stunning finish with it. If you want a true gloss finish, then this is the paint to go for. Click here to see online prices.


What Paint do Professionals Use on Masonry?


When choosing a masonry paint, you should opt for breathable product. Technology has changed masonry coatings over the past 10 years, so there is no need to cover your house in what is essentially plastic.

Wethertex AP77 is the best standard trade masonry paint in my experience. It isn’t too expensive, leaves a brilliant finish, remains breathable, and is also self-cleaning. You won’t find better masonry paint in the same price bracket. Available online by clicking here.

Dulux Weathershiled is the most popular masonry paint with professionals. The opacity and finish of this paint is fantastic. It does claim to be breathable, but it isn’t as breathable as some of the other brands. It isn’t self-cleaning either. Available online by clicking here.

Emperor paints is the best masonry paint on the market. It is insulating, looks fantastic and has hydrophobic technology. It’s very expensive, but easily the best masonry paint on the market. Click here for more info.


What Paint do professionals use for exterior woodwork


You can choose different finishes for exterior trim. I’ll give you the best option for each. By “trim”, I mean exterior windows, doors, soffits and Facias.

Dulux Weathershield Gloss is a fantastic option. The sheen level is awesome. It looks as though your house is wearing a sharp suit! You can buy this paint in any colour, and it is fairly easy to apply with a natural bristle brush. This is a product I love!! Available online here.

Zinsser AllCoat is a great multi-surface paint and gives you a satin finish. This paint comes in water, or oil-based and in pretty much any colour. The beauty of this paint is you can use it on anything, including masonry, timber, and metal. Professionals love this product, and it is easily out there as the brand leader for exterior satinwoods. Available online here.

Sandtex X-tra is the best exterior eggshell in my opinion. It’s very easy to use, has great opacity and the finish is second to none. It’s a luxurious, contemporary, deep matt paint that will last for years in the Great British weather. The only minor downside is the lengthy curing time. Available online here.


Exterior Wood Stain and Varnish


Exterior wood stain is another fascinating topic. It seems paint manufacturers need to walk a tightrope between opacity and overall finish. If a satin has good opacity, it tends to leave visible brush marks. Too little opacity and the stain is translucent.


Sikkens is an old-school product owned by AkzoNobel. You should build up the colour with Sikkens Centol HLS Plus until solid, then topcoat with Filter 7 Plus to protect your timber from the elements. I love this wood stain, but it takes an age to dry, which can be a real pain when you’re coating windows and doors.

Dulux Ultimate Wood Stain is the other end of the spectrum. This is a quick drying product that professionals love. It has great opacity, and you only need the one product when using it outside. Brush marks are a pain on large flat surfaces, but that doesn’t mean this is a bad product. You just need to use it in the correct place. Dulux Ultimate Wood Stain is perfect for renovating old, knackered timber. It seems to cover knocks very well.


Final Thoughts


I told you I was a paint geek! There was a time when decorators would only use the ‘big 3’ paint brands (Dulux, Crown and Johnstone’s).  Now the market has opened up and there are specialist trade paints available from Europe. In my opinion, it’s worth spending a little bit more on paint and having a superior finish in your home.

Updated May 13, 2024 | Posted Jul 30, 2022 | 2 comments

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. Oliver

    You covered everything except internal walls….the most important question people will have (including me).

    • Mike Cupit

      we’ll sort that today or tomorrow for you


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