Q&A: Satinwood Paint

Satinwood is one of the best paints for surfaces such as skirting boards, internal doors and hand rails.

But what else can you apply it to? Which brand has the best satinwood? Is satinwood self-undercoating?

We’ve taken some of the most commonly asked questions by our readers and answered them below. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned professional, you should be able to pick up some information that’s useful to you. With that being said, let’s jump into it.

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What colour undercoat should I use for a sage satinwood?

Satinwood is self undercoating, so there’s no need for an undercoat which could potentially be a slightly different colour. In general, it’s best to use the same colour undercoat regardless of finish.

What’s the satinwood paint that’s quick drying? I’m working in care homes so quick drying time is essential.

Johnstone’s Aqua or Aqua Guard will do the trick. The Aqua feels a little bit nicer to apply so I’d personally go with that.

I’ve used water-based satinwood on wood but the knots are showing through everywhere. What can I do?

I would spot prime the knots with something like Zinsser BIN and then give it a coat or two of water-based satinwood. That should sort the issue.

Why do I get a bad headache when using satinwood?

It’s likely that you’re either using an oil-based satinwood or the rooms you’re painting are not the well ventilated. Here’s 3 things that might help:

  1. Switch to a water-based satinwood
  2. Make sure you open all windows and doors before you start painting and keep them open
  3. Use a protective mask

If none of those work we’ve heard crazy tales of people cutting an onion in half and leaving it in the room although I wouldn’t be able to say whether that works or not!

Can you get Dulux Satinwood in white instead of Pure Brilliant white?

You can, but you probably won’t find it in any retailers. You’d likely have to get it tinted if you wanted just white.

I was doing woodwork using an oil undercoat and the customer had water based quick dry satinwood for the top coat. After a couple of hours the satinwood started to crack. It is very cold in the building so I’m thinking it may be that or could it be the water based on an oil base undercoat that’s the issue?

When it comes to satinwood, it’s a myth that you can’t put a water-based top coat over an oil-based undercoat. Satinwood is self-undercoating so theoretically you can put it on most surfaces without worrying about whether it will stick. To me it seems likely that it was too cold for the oil-based undercoat to fully dry and that’s why you’re getting the issue.

My advice would be to leave it for a few days, give the surface a good rub down and then apply a couple of coats of water based satin.

I’m using Dulux Quick Dry Satinwood. The first coat is perfect but is drying too quick on the second coat to get a good finish. Any ideas?

Did you use the Dulux QD undercoat first? If not, I’d recommend that. You can also use a really fine water spray (think something that you’d see at the hairdressers) on the surface before coating.

Thoughts on the Leyland Trade satinwood?

A builder supplied it for me going back. I was impressed with it although I’ve heard it doesn’t stay white long though.

I recently did a job on woodwork (old pine to white – 2 x BIN, primer and topcoat) and the customer has called to say brown is coming through. What went wrong?

Definitely not ideal. To be honest, 9 times out of 10 your method would’ve been fine but obviously that’s not going to give you any comfort! In future, maybe try 1 coat of BIN, 1 coat of cover stain and 2 coats of satin. The cover stain should stop any tanning coming through.

Can you recommend a harder wearing satin for woodwork? It’s for a dentist surgery.

If you’re painting a dentist’s surgery it’s very likely they’re going to be wiping down surfaces often so looking for something that’s hardwearing is a good shout and probably the most important factor in your paint choice. I’d personally use something like Benjamin Moore Scuff X for this.

I’ve just got into airless spraying. What’s a good satinwood finish that I can spray?

Johnstone’s Aqua Guard is really nice for spraying. Follow manufacturer’s advice in regards to thinning it first.

I’m painting a 70s staircase which currently has a varnish finish and will be going to white satinwood. Should I use Whitson’s or BIN primer?

I personally wouldn’t rely on an adhesion primer like Whitson’s on a varnished surface (even though it’s meant for that). I’d rather key the surface and use a stain blocking primer like Cover stain or better still, get them to go with an oil based solution so you can use oil undercoat, or a grey finish and use aluminium primer as the first coat. Water based primers might chip off too easily.

How long should I wait to apply a second coat of Dulux Trade Quick Dry Satin?

In my experience and that of many people I know within the trade who use this, you shouldn’t need to wait more than 2 hours before applying a second coat. I know of some people who will re-coat after 45 minutes but I wouldn’t personally re-coat that quickly.

What are your thoughts on Scuff X vs Johnstone’s Aqua?

Scuff X is more durable and will often only need a couple of coats but Johnstone’s Aqua is great and definitely the best satinwood paint out of the mainstream operators. Especially handy for DIYers in particular as it’s better value than Scuff X. In my experience Johnstone’s Aqua tends to get stronger as it cures so is great for home use.

I’m looking to paint bespoke MDF furniture for my camper van, what paint would you recommend? I’m thinking Diamond eggshell?

I’d go with Diamond Satinwood. It’s a lot tougher than the eggshell but just make sure you leave it for a week or two to properly cure.

How do you prep an existing door that’s got oil based gloss on it for water based satinwood?

I’d honestly just give the surface a good sand down, dust down and clean. I know some painters would prefer to use an adhesion primer but my thoughts are they’re still a bit scared of water based satinwoods because of how bad they USED to be. As long as you’ve got a decent paint you’ll be OK without the primer.

Looked at a job where the living room, staircase & landing woodwork was changed from varnish to white. I’m told it was keyed and coated with Bullseye 123 before it was all put white satin. It’s looking a bit suspicious in the high traffic areas (few bits of chipping showing). The budget isn’t there to sand way back and start again – it’s more a ‘make as good as possible’. Any advice?

Without being too blunt: don’t do it. If the budget doesn’t allow you to do it properly, then don’t do it. At the end of the day, this work will go on your resume so it’s better not to take any chances on a ‘quick fix’.

We like to keep our articles up to date so if you’ve got any questions or need advice regarding satinwood paint, get in touch and we’ll update this article accordingly!