The Different Types of Paint

Paints can be classified as interior paints or exterior paints

Interior Paints

Wall paints

  • Distemper

This is perhaps the most economical type of painting available in the  Kenyan market today. It can be classified as a “Whitewash” job. This term is probably deep rooted in our vocabulary as home owners whitewash their homes prior to renting it out and occupants insist on a periodic whitewash from the home owners ! The major constituents of distemper are chalk, lime, water and some coloring agents if necessary. Distemper is a water based paint.

  • Emulsions

Emulsion is the most popular paint for walls and ceilings due to the fact that it is water based and has less smell, dries comparatively quickly and is easy to apply.

There are three main types of emulsion used for walls and ceilings, each giving a different finish:

  1. Vinyl matt emulsion gives a matt, non-shiny finish that is good for not showing small imperfections on the wall or ceiling. (The shinier finishes reflect back more light and highlight any imperfections). Generally speaking, however, it does not wear as well as the glossier emulsions.
  2. Vinyl satin emulsion gives a subtle soft-sheen finish and is a more durable surface than vinyl matt. It is suitable for areas that might need to be occasionally lightly washed or sponged.
  3. Vinyl silk emulsion gives a high sheen finish and is the most durable of all the emulsion paints. It is good for rooms that are subject to a lot of moisture i.e. condensation. Some manufactures make specific Kitchen & Bathroom paint which is ideal for areas of high humidity.


  •  Enamels are hard, washable and usually glossy paints. They can be oil based or alkyd based and come in several sheens, from eggshell or low-lustre to satin, semi-gloss and high-gloss. They find application not only on metal surfaces but also on interior walls and wooden surfaces


  • Wood Finish Paints are different from the usual wall paints and are formulated specifically for application on wooden surfaces. They have better capacity of adhering to the wooden surfaces and enhancing the appeal of the wooden textures. These include wood sealers, varnishes, preservatives etc.

Exterior Paints

  • Cement Paints
    To give a new look for concrete and other cement-based materials, cement paint is the perfect answer. It is a special paint coatings made for masonry and cement-based materials, including concrete, mortar (and brick), concrete block and stucco. Not only it adds to the aesthetics of the wall but also provides a waterproofing coating and can supplement the role of putty.

Other types of paint

There are other types of paint available for specific jobs. These include:

  • Primer – These may be oil or water based and are used to seal unpainted surfaces to prevent covering coats of paint soaking in. The appropriate type of primer should be used for the surface being painted – wood, metal, plaster or tiles. There are some ‘all purpose primers’ available which are designed for two or more of these surfaces.
  • Undercoat – Usually oil-based, undercoat is applied on top of the primer. The undercoat should be of the correct colour to provide the right colour base for the finishing coats.
  • Anti-condensation – For use in humid conditions such as in kitchens and bathrooms, this paint ii specially formulated to prevent the surface becoming cold to the touch and therefore less conducive to condensation. It is not a cure for condensation, only a way of reducing its effect on painted surfaces. They often include a fungicide. Normal emulsion paints may be satisfactory in these conditions providing that the level of condensation is not too high.
  • Radiator paint – For use on central heating pipes and radiators, it will stand up to the high temperatures without discolouring as other paints are prone to do.
  • Fire-retardant – These special paints contain an additive to provide a fire-resistant quality, they do not resist fire completely, but has a greater flame resistance than ordinary paint and will reduce their spread.

For Consultation on colors in Nairobi Kenya, Painters in Kenya advise or costing on painting contact us on +254 723 957547 or email us at


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