Why trade paint for decorators is better than DIY paint

Greg clark decorators london

If you are planning a decorating job this year, which type of paint should you choose? Trade-only paint or the paints readily available in any good DIY store?

Is there a difference between the two types, even paints by the same brand?

Well, we think so and here’s our argument.

As you may have guessed, even if you are a first time visitor to our DIY and decorating blog, we’ve been doing this a while now (!), in fact I started out on the brushes when I was only 14 years of age, and now at the rip old age (!) of 43, I’ve been there and done that and used all sorts of paints.

I’ve worked all over the world, and have painted houses and business of all shapes and sizes and with great results so I quickly learnt that to do a great decorating job, internally or externally, you need to start with the right paint, a good paint!

 Why are there two different sorts of paint?

It can be confusing for the novice DIY’er to find that there are two separate types of paint, and we are not talking about emulsion or gloss, we mean “trade” paint and DIY paint.

The cans below will be a familiar sight if you have been wandering around your local Wickes or B and Q for some paint. This could be to paint a hallway or a bedroom or for the more enthusiastic amongst us, an exterior wall, but is DIY paint really all it’s cracked up to be?

….evidently not as if DIY paint was really good, surely all the painters and decorators would be using it, so what’s going on there then, are the paint companies short changing the general public?

It would appear so.

Most decorators, well, the good ones anyway, will head for the trade paint store for their materials and not B and Q, but for what reason?

Trade paint Vs DIY paint

Firstly, a decorator using trade paint will want the best available for their client, and when working for someone else and not painting your own house, a lot is expected of you (the painter) and reputation is at stake, so buying some cheap paint is the sign of a COWBOY and any painter using this on a daily basis is best avoided.

One reason that a painter will head for their local trade store is rather obviously that they will buy larger amounts of paint at any one time, meaning they will get it cheaper than Joe Public.




This is also the same with the actual SIZE of the paint tins as it’s quite common to purchase very large tubs of emulsion, maybe up to 20 litres, which a contractor will use for more than one job or a whole house, compared to the DIY buyer who may just want to decorate one room.

Guarantee’s, and perhaps a good reputation too, are factors that your decorator must consider when purchasing paint for a job. If he uses cheap paint, the job will not be as good and of course he will not get as much follow-on work or referrals, and maybe even have guarantee claims which will eat into his profits.

The QUALITY of trade paint is also better as the paints have more pigments (the coloured dyes) in them, meaning that the DIY paint will take 3 coats whereas the Trade version will only take two and have a better opacity, meaning more profit and a better job.

What is meant by the “opacity” of paint?

Opacity is sort of related to the amount of light that can pass through something, but in terms of paints and coatings, it refers to the ability of a coat of paint, when applied at a given thickness, to hide the substrate, the wall beneath, or the previous coat of paint from view.

A DIY paint, especially a “one-coat” or “self priming” paint typically has a poor opacity and therefore once the job is finished, there is a good chance that the paint underneath may show through, leading to a very poor quality paint job.

From when I actually did the painting myself, fellow decorators referred to this as “Grinning” or a “Holiday”, but for what reason I never found out!

i dont always paint my house

Decorating TRENDS are also a factor in DIY paint

Trends and fashions come and go and DIY paints follow these as the consumers change their taste often depending on what’s “in” for a particular seasons, so DIY paint is often CONSUMER LED.

A good example can be one-coat paints, which do not give good results but save the DIY painter time and most DIY’ers to be honest would not know a good paint job if it smacked them round the chops with a wet fish.

The awful Dulux paint pod is a prime example of this. A true decorator would not touch one of those.

Colours are also a factor and the bolder and wackier colours that the public demand are very difficult to achieve and often do not last long as they are so complicated to make, especially paints that rely on a lot of blue pigment which is not as colour fast as lighter shades and the public are always looking for the latest colour to decorate with.

So should I only buy “Trade” paint?

Be careful! There are some DIY shops who have cottoned on to this and have allegedly relabelled some tins as Trade when the contents are exactly the same as the DIY version.

It is best to consult your local professional decorator who can help and advise you on the best paints to select for the work you want him or her to carry out.

Please don’t go to your local discount shop and pay 99p for a tin of white gloss and expect your painter to use it as it is more than his reputation is worth to use cheap paint, which WILL result in a poor quality job with a short lifespan.

All in all trade paint is BETTER QUALITY, in our opinion, and CHEAPER than DIY paint so make sure it is what your painter and decorator uses on your home this year!

Painting properly needs preparation!

As a final thought, it also goes without saying that the painter should never underestimate the importance of good and correct preparation before painting as, if that factor is skimped on, the best paint in the world will not stand up to the job and the results will be poor, so whatever materials you choose to use, always prep before painting, or just don’t bother at all.

New plaster should be allowed to dry before applying the paint and old plaster should be sanded down and freed of dust, along with proper crack repairs and removal of any old remaining paint or wall paper.

We have only looked at one brand in this article, Dulux, which is a good all-round brand but there are lots of other brands to consider such as: Johnstones, Leyland, Farrow and Ball, Sandolin, Zinsser, Crown, Sikkens, Albany, to name a few.

Finally, what do Dulux themselves say on the matter?

“Q: What is the difference between Dulux Trade paints and Dulux Retail paints?

A: The key difference is the consistency of the paint. Dulux Retail paints are ready for use straight from the can. Many professional decorators, however, like to thin their paint before use and so Dulux Trade paints have a slightly different formulation. However, both Dulux Trade and Retail paints are manufactured to the same high specification.”

Source: Dulux.co.uk

For a quote to have your house painted, click HERE.

Disclaimer: Dulux® is a brand name owned by Azko nobel and is used here as a product review only. Featured photo courtesy of GS decorating



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