Paints

Whether you are thinking of redecorating your walls at home or are looking to weatherproof outdoor surfaces for protection against the elements, Cromwell stock a large range of paints suitable for a wide range of applications. With big names like Plasti-Kote, Hammerite and Rustoleum, there is a wide variety of types and finishes so you can achieve the results you are looking for.

What are paints?

Paint is made up of a liquid composition of pigment, binder, and solvent. The pigment provides the colour of the paint, it works by reflecting certain light waves and absorbing others giving it the appearance of the colour to the human eye. Traditionally made from metal compounds pigments can be mixed to create any number of different colours.

Because the pigment is a solid, they cannot be directly applied to surfaces as they would not spread evenly and would be easy to remove if coming into contact with moisture etc. That's why binders are added to glue the pigment together, they can be anything from traditional linseed oil but modern paint uses synthetic plastic as a binding agent. This also helps it protect the surface it is being applied to.

The mixture of pigment and binder is very viscous and doesn't spread easily, imagine a tar like substance. To counter this a solvent is added to essentially thin the mixture and allow it to be applied thinly and evenly to a surface. The solvent because of its nature then evaporates into the air leaving the dried paint behind. That chemically smelling odour left behind after a fresh paint job... that's the solvent dispersing into the air. There are several different types of solvents used in paints. Water is one of them whilst others use petroleum extracts like naptha (this is why some paints are flammable) typically water-based is a less problematic solvent as it is easier to clean out of fabrics etc in the case of spillage, other solvent-based paints are less easy to remove.

All three of these together create the mixture we call paints. In some cases, there is a fourth ingredient in the form of specialised additives. These are used to help perform a special function, such as in the case of rustproof paints, treating metal surfaces and protecting them from corrosion.

Why paints?

Painting surfaces doesn't just add a splash of colour to your walls to make them look nice. They also offer protection, the mixture of the pigment and binder, creates a seal over the surface you are painting, almost acting like a layer of skin to protect the surface underneath from damage.

Types of paints

There is a large variety of paints available, with a number of different bases, finishes and uses. To help you pick the right paint for the job the most common types are outlined below along with their features and benefits.

• Emulsion A water based (latex) paint that is most commonly used for interior domestic walls and are easy to apply and remove with detergent and water. Tey are low odour thanks to their water base and come in matt (low sheen) and satin (slightly higher sheen) finishes.

• Gloss A high shine oil-based paint that dries with a high shine and hard finish. They are not water soluble and produce a strong odour when applied. Although harder to apply than emulsion, they are a lot more durable.

• Primer These paints are primarily used as an undercoat to surfaces including wood and metal with the intention of creating a base layer that allows the topcoat of paint like a gloss to stick more effectively for an even finish. They can also contain additives to help prevent rot in wood or rust in metal.

• Enamel A highly durable paint that is effective against wear and tear as well as high temperatures. Common uses include bicycle frames and radiators.

Considerations when choosing paints

There are many considerations when choosing the correct paint for your application.

• The surface being painted - Making sure that the paint type matches the surface you are painting is highly important. In the case of metal surfaces for instance, a primer may be needed provided the surface is completely bare. If the metal is outside a rustproof of protective paint may be needed to help prevent corrosion due to the combination of moisture and oxygen.

• The desired finish - The overall desired look of the worksurface is a key consideration also. For instance, in a well-lit room a matt emulsion would be preferable as it reflects less light whilst still creating a light and airy space. In the case of skirting a gloss finish may be preferable as it helps protect the wooden panels from damage.

• Application method - As well as application by brush or roller there is also the option to apply via spray can or gun. Spray painting gives a wider even coverage and is especially useful for getting paint into hard-to-reach areas, particularly useful for covering large outdoor surfaces quickly and thoroughly. When using a spray gun it is vital that the paint is thin enough to get through the nozzle without clogging, additional paint thinner may be required of this is not the case.

FAQ

Are paint fumes harmful?

Depending on the solvent used in the paint, paint fumes can be harmful. The fumes can cause both short and long-term health effects initially whilst applying and as the paint is drying inhaling the fumes can result in headaches, eye watering, dizziness and breathing problems. Other immediate symptoms include throat and lung irritation and vision problems. If you feel any of the above effects, it is recommended that you leave the area and get into fresh air. Prolonged exposure can cause serious health issues such as damage to the liver and kidneys, the nervous system and even cancer. Some solvents in paint are also flammable so it is important not to expose these paints to heat sources, naked flames, or sparks.

Can paint go off?

Water based paints generally have a self-life of around ten years, so yes there is an expiration date.