Best Paints & Varnishes

Whether you're looking to change the colour scheme of your walls, paint or restore furniture, or complete a DIY project, finding the right paint or varnish can make or break your home renovation goals. Knowing what to look for when you shop can - for a change - make you look forward to watching the paint dry. Continue reading...

267 listings

Best Paint & Varnish

Viccon Deck and Fence Deck Restoration Kit For Film Forming Sealers Coated

Maintaining decks are hard, but using the Viccon Restoration Kit for Peeling Decks is easy. The kit strips your deck of its finish and restores wood to its natural beauty.

Effectively strips variety of finishes
Not physically demanding to use
Can strip multiple layers at a time
  • Value for Money
    4.7 (11)
  • Coverage
    4.7 (10)
  • Finish Quality
    5.0 (10)
  • Longevity
    5.0 (5)
  • Ease of Application
    4.8 (10)
2nd Best Paint & Varnish
Ecolour Eco Living Interior

Ecolour Eco Living Interior

 · includes 3 listings
4.6 from 83 reviews

With colour matching available, a chemical-free solution, and a formula where a little goes a long way, the Ecolour Eco Living Interior Paints make it easy to start or continue a home project.

Easy to paint with
No toxic smell
Dries quickly
  • Value for Money
    4.9 (30)
  • Coverage
    4.8 (33)
  • Finish Quality
    5.0 (33)
  • Longevity
    5.0 (10)
  • Ease of Application
    4.9 (32)
3rd Best Paint & Varnish
Haymes Interior Expressions

Haymes Interior Expressions

 · includes 3 listings
4.3 from 43 reviews

The Haymes Interior Expressions Paints come in low sheen, matte, and semi-gloss finishes and are touch dry in 20 minutes, making it simple to revamp your home and produce stylish results.

Simple to apply
Achieves even sheen
Easy to clean painted walls
  • Value for Money
    4.5 (18)
  • Coverage
    4.3 (17)
  • Finish Quality
    4.4 (17)
  • Longevity
    4.3 (6)
  • Ease of Application
    4.3 (18)
Haymes Simply Woodcare Dexpress

If you have timber decking, cladding, fencing, or gates that need a bit of TLC, the Haymes Simply Woodcare Dexpress Stain is hard-wearing, has high coverage, and is resistant to UV and mould.

Spring Flat Plastic
3.3 from 68 reviews

At an affordable price, the Spring Flat Plastic Interior Paint can help you do a room or home makeover with ease.

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British Paints Decking Oil

British Paints Decking Oil

 · includes 2 listings
3.9 from 27 reviews

Latest review: Tried many oils on treated pine and this one seems to be holding up the best. A good rich colour tone when dry and goes a long way and easy to apply. A very good overlooked product. Beats all the

Flood Spa-N-Deck
3.9 from 21 reviews

Latest review: Religiously followed the 1-2-3 Step process and stirred the 10 litre bucket every brush load but the Merbau colour showed on the bucket, when applied 4 coats to treated pine, came out more like the

White Knight Renew Tile & Laminate Satin Finish

Latest review: Purchased 2 tins of primer + 4 tins of Tile and Laminate from Bunnings after convincing my partner it would freshen up the kitchen. Removed all kitchen cabinet doors. Followed instructions,

Cabot's CFP Floor

Cabot's CFP Floor

 · includes 2 listings
3.1 from 60 reviews

Latest review: Cabot’s CFP water based Matt finish, applied over a black polyurethane floor, I have applied 2 coats, it has now been 2 days and the floor now has very patchy white marks all over. I’ve had the air

Wattyl Killrust

Wattyl Killrust

 · includes 11 listings
4.8 from 11 reviews

Latest review: I previously reviewed this product when there were no deep tint bases available, limiting the available colours. For that I docked it a star, for an otherwise stellar product. That has now been

Bondall Monocel Gold Marine Grade

Bondall Monocel Gold Marine Grade

 · includes 2 listings
4.5 from 13 reviews

Latest review: Only bought this because it was cheap and aussie made, does a great finish and my wine barrell still has a great gloss being in the sun after 2 years. Highly

Cabot's Natural Decking Oil
3.0 from 57 reviews

Latest review: I re coated my decks over the last 8 days. This oil is just horrible..it has taken 3 days to even remotely feel like drying. I cleaned the deck before hand and I used a good quality brush to apply

Walpamur Fence Finish Pine Green

Latest review: I purchased a 4 litre plastic container of this product and stirred it well with a flat paddle until I thought it was well mixed. Alas, as other correspondents reported coverage was very poor. This

Intergrain UltraDeck Timber Oil

Latest review: I wanted to restore the shine to my deck, so I chose Intergrain Ultradeck Timber Oil. It was easy to apply and provided great uniformity in shine to my deck which had varying areas of being

Intergrain DWD
3.6 from 17 reviews

Latest review: Painted brand new deck a year ago and let dry for about 3 days before it rained. The deck went all milky but dryed clear again a day later. 3 months later it started to peel and got worse and worse.

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White Knight Renew Tile & Laminate Gloss Finish

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Cabot's Aquadeck
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4.9 from 8 reviews

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Taubmans Endure

Taubmans Endure

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Page 1 of 10

What's the difference between paint and varnish?

A man and woman using a roller and brush to paint a room with windows white.

While paint is used to add colour, varnish is used to provide a protective coating over paint and give the painted item a certain style of finish. It has little or no pigment and it's usually glossy, however you can also find some that create a low sheen, matte, or semi-gloss finish.

Some projects may call for a varnish application without paint. For example, you may want to apply a varnish over wood to give it some extra gloss and protection while still maintaining its natural beauty.

You can also find varnishes that are marketed as both a stain (that is, they add colour) and a varnish.

What are varnishes used for?

Varnishes are typically used for finishing wooden surfaces. They penetrate timber and create a protective coating that not only makes it more durable, but also enhances its appearance. They’re often used for wooden floors, interior trim and panelling, and furniture.

What are the types of paints?

There are plenty of different types of paint you can buy, but all these can be categorised as being either oil-based or water-based.

  • Oil-based paint is highly durable, making it great for surfaces that get knocked and kicked a lot, such as trim. It does take a while to dry, so you need to plan ahead before starting to paint with it.
  • Water-based paint creates a smooth, uniform appearance, and is resistant to mould, mildew, and fading. Latex paint is a type of water-based paint that’s popular with those painting walls and ceilings, as it’s easier to work with than oils and dries faster - however, it isn’t as durable

What are the types of varnishes?

Different types of varnishes have different formulas and intended uses. Here are the main ones to look out for.

  • Spirit varnish is used to polish woodwork, however because it doesn’t weather well, it’s most suited to indoor furniture and decor.
  • Acrylic varnish is quick drying, non-toxic and water based, and usually has a high UV-resistance, so it’s suitable for interior and exterior use.
  • Exterior varnish is specially formulated to be used outdoors with extra UV and mould resistance, however it can be slow drying.
  • Polyurethane varnish creates a very hard surface, making it popular for use on floors and spaces which get a lot of foot traffic or wear and tear. It’s also quite heat-resistant.
  • Yacht varnish or marine varnish, as the name suggests, has traditionally been used on boats to ensure water doesn’t get to the wood, but now it’s also used on outdoor timber (but not for surfaces that are walked on).
  • Oil varnish is generally the most durable type of varnish you can buy, and is suited for exposed surfaces that require polishing and are cleaned often. However, they do take a while to dry.

A person using a paintbrush to apply a varnish to a light coloured timber.

What to consider when choosing a paint or varnish

Your painting surface

You should only get a paint or varnish that’s designed for what you’re painting. Consider the type of surface, its material, and its location when you shop.

You can find wall paint, ceiling paint (although many wall paints double as ceiling paint), floor paint (including driveway paint), roof paint, fence paint... the list goes on.

If you’re painting something other than a wall, pay attention to what material any paint you’re considering is suitable for. In stores you’ll find everything from wood paint to metal paint and paint for glass - using a paint or varnish for a surface other than the one its intended for will likely mean it won’t adequately coat or protect what you’re painting.

Some manufacturers specify the exact type of material their product can be used for (such a varnish that’s only designed for hardwood) so ensure that you check what you’re painting and what you plan to paint it with.

Remember to also only use interior paint and varnish inside, otherwise they won’t have the UV resistance to hold up against the elements.

Sheen

A paint or varnish's sheen refers to how shiny it is and how much light it reflects. There are a variety to choose from, and the right choice for you depends on the look you’re going for and how much wear and tear you need the surface to withstand.

Gloss

The glossier the paint, the easier it is to clean up. Households with small children or rooms with high traffic that tend to get grease, dirt and finger marks on the wall (such as a kitchen or playroom) do well with a high gloss finish that can easily be wiped down with a sponge.

Gloss is less suited to lounge rooms and bedrooms, as the walls could be too shiny for your liking. However glossy paints are commonly used for trims to complement a wall with a flatter finish.

Semi-gloss

As the name suggests, semi-glossy paints are slightly glossy. They’re not as reflective as their glossy counterparts, and have a slight satin finish that suits almost all kinds of interior surfaces, from walls and trims to doors and cabinetry.

Low sheen

Low sheen paint has a velvety finish that can help make surface imperfections less apparent than if you use a gloss paint. They’re suitable for a variety of interior surfaces, and are hard-wearing and easy to clean, making them great for kitchens, laundries and bathrooms.

Matte

Matte, or matt paints have a low light reflection, and can help give a space a more elevated and sophisticated look. Because they don’t reflect much light, they’re well-suited to walls with imperfect surfaces or are a bit uneven as they help hide this.

If you struggle with glare, such as in rooms with large windows, then a matte finish can soften light.

Dulux Aquanamel Paint in Gloss and Haymes Interior Expressions Paint in Low Sheen.

On the left: Dulux Aquanamel Gloss Paint. On the right: Haymes Interior Expressions Low Sheen Paint.

Does sheen affect colour?

Yes, sheen can affect the way the colour of your paint appears. More glossy, reflective paints often make colours seem darker than a low sheen or matte paint would - that’s why you should always test a colour before painting the whole surface.

Colour

The colour you choose will largely depend on your own personal preferences. Consider your whole space and how you want your home to feel. Looking at the different materials and any furniture, upholstery, and art near the area you’re going to paint can give you a good idea of what suits the room and what doesn’t

Our advice? Grab a bunch of paint swatches from the hardware store and hold up each one against your wall to see which look good.

Test with real paint to find the right shade for you

It’s tough deciding on a new colour based on a tiny little paper swatch, which is why many hardware stores sell paint samples that you can paint a small section of your wall with. You can then live with the painted section for a week or two and see how you feel about the small change before deciding whether or not it’s what you’re after.

Application

Can the paint or varnish be used with the implement you want to use? Most interior paints can be used with a brush or roller, and some can also be used with a spray gun. Check that the paint you’re buying suits your preferred application method.

Ingredients

Some people may prefer a non-toxic formula that doesn’t emit unpleasant fumes - particularly if there are people in the household with asthma, allergies, or are sensitive to paint fumes and chemicals. Look for a paint with low or zero volatile organic compounds (VOCs) if this is the case for you.

Often these non-toxic paints and varnishes are also more environmentally friendly - that’s a win for the planet too.