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...

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Based on 3,668 reviews
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Chazza
ChazzaQLD6 posts
  Deck Restoration Kit For Film Forming Sealers Coated
Good productMy deck was heavily weathered in the sun areas and quite good in the shaded areas, about 25 sq.m. I just followed the directions to strip and rejuvenate the timber, ready for a decking oil. The products worked a treat and did exactly what they were designed to do. I'm very pleased with the result, highly recommended. Show details
Haymes Ultra Premium Expressions Interior

Haymes Ultra Premium Expressions Interior

4.2  (48)
 Summary
Carmel0
Carmel03 posts
  Low Sheen
Very Poor coverageVery poor coverage compared to other brands top quality range Show details
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Richard K
Richard KQLD4 posts
 
British Paints Decking Oil

British Paints Decking Oil

3.9  (29)
 Summary
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Marl
MarlVIC48 posts
  Oil Based
Great oil deckingI used this every year and find it great for my decking.My decking under cover I only re oil
Every 3 year as it lasts. The decking in the open and out in the elements all the time I oil every year. This product goes on easy and will take a couple of days to dry 100%
Used for 12 years and my decking has a lovely colour and shine Show details
Bondall Monocel Gold Marine Grade

Bondall Monocel Gold Marine Grade

4.6  (16)
 Summary
Martin L
Martin LQLD8 posts
  Stain & Varnish
Wattyl Killrust

Wattyl Killrust

4.8  (14)
 Summary
Sam
SamNSW15 posts
  Epoxy Gloss Enamel
Best paintI have painted cars, trucks, trailers, bikes and random items with killrust. It takes a while to dry but the results are amazing. Cars I painted 10 years ago still shine. I love I don't need to undercoat unless it's bear metal. This stuff sticks to everything and anything. Show details ·  1
Spring Flat Plastic

Spring Flat Plastic

3.2  (71)
 Summary
IMP
IMPQLD6 posts
 
Cabot's CFP Floor

Cabot's CFP Floor

3.2  (64)
 Summary
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Lori K.
Lori K.VIC2 posts
  Water Based
Cabot's
Cabot's   DM   
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White Knight Renew Tile & Laminate Satin Finish

White Knight Renew Tile & Laminate Satin Finish

3.1  (53)
 Summary
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Nick
Nick3 posts
 
White Knight
White Knight   DM   
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Cabot's Natural Decking Oil

Cabot's Natural Decking Oil

3.0  (57)
 Summary
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Telemachus
TelemachusVIC3 posts
 
Taubmans Tradex

Taubmans Tradex

4.9  (10)
 Summary
DavidF
DavidFVIC20 posts
 
Walpamur Fence Finish Pine Green

Walpamur Fence Finish Pine Green

3.1  (36)
 Summary
ainsley
ainsleyVIC
 
Intergrain UltraDeck Timber Oil

Intergrain UltraDeck Timber Oil

2.5  (228)
 Summary
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Zac C.
Zac C.
 
Wattyl Solagard

Wattyl Solagard

3.5  (19)
 Summary
Thang N.
Thang N.NSW2 posts
 
Solagard pain is exelanceI bought solagard charcoal paint concrete roof tile since 2005, until now 2023 still good, color is still the same. May be I painted by brush, thicker? but I'm kept one roof tile for a sample. Show details
Dulux Metalshield Epoxy Enamel

Dulux Metalshield Epoxy Enamel

2.7  (60)
 Summary
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Tim S.
Tim S.7 posts
 
Easy to useWorks as it should ... why the neg reviews ..it's all to do with prep.. read the can
The painting is the easy part Show reply
Bargainshopper
Bargainshopper7 posts
  Semi Gloss
Haymes
Haymes   DM   
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Feast Watson Floorshine

Feast Watson Floorshine

4.9  (8)
 Summary
Don
DonNSW4 posts
 
Taubmans Endure

Taubmans Endure

2.5  (146)
 Summary
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David U.
David U.2 posts
  Low Sheen
Surprised on reviewsI'm surprised to see bad reviews on this product. I found it the best I've used over a few brands and types. Maybe there was a bad batch of paint or trolling reviews by competitors. I will use this again. Show details ·  1
Taubmans Water Based Enamel

Taubmans Water Based Enamel

2.6  (64)
 Summary
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DavidF
DavidFVIC20 posts
  Gloss
Cabot's Aquadeck

Cabot's Aquadeck

2.4  (176)
 Summary
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michel d.
michel d.WA
  Verified
Cabot's
Cabot's   DM   
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Taubmans 3 in 1 Prep

Taubmans 3 in 1 Prep

3.8  (13)
 Summary
Sharon H.
Sharon H.NSW
 
Extremely puzzledHi taubmans
I got 4 litres of this yesterday and wondering if it's supposed to be as runny as water? There is no thickness to it at all. Show details
Taubmans
Taubmans   DM   
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White Knight Renew Tile & Laminate Gloss Finish

White Knight Renew Tile & Laminate Gloss Finish

2.7  (43)
 Summary
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Mary-anne S.
Mary-anne S.VIC8 posts
 
VanityWent yellow a day or two days after and kept getting darker. At the end had to repaint with white normal paint Show details
White Knight
White Knight   DM   
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Intergrain Nature’s Timber Oil

Intergrain Nature’s Timber Oil

2.9  (28)
 Summary
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Mark D.
Mark D.VIC
 
Cabot's Cabothane Clear

Cabot's Cabothane Clear

2.4  (98)
 Summary
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VRB
VRBNSW
  Water Based
Cabot's Benchtop Clear

Cabot's Benchtop Clear

3.4  (16)
 Summary
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Jason J.
Jason J.
 
MilkyJust put the satin on. It’s all milky. Hoping it dries clear.
Update. Rainy and humid day. Should have waited longer for it to dry - was 6 hours and still some milky. Show details ·  1
Sikkens Cetol Deck

Sikkens Cetol Deck

3.0  (21)
 Summary
Michael H.
Michael H.3 posts
 
Sikkens Australia
Sikkens Australia   DM   
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Feast Watson Wet Look Deck

Feast Watson Wet Look Deck

3.4  (15)
 Summary
aitch
aitchVIC10 posts
 
Feast Watson
Feast Watson   DM   
More
Dulux Aquanamel

Dulux Aquanamel

2.2  (194)
 Summary
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Ash C
Ash C2 posts
  Semi Gloss
Berger Jet Dry Heavy Duty

Berger Jet Dry Heavy Duty

2.3  (92)
 Summary
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Gary
GaryQLD
 
Deck Doc Premium Decking Oil

Deck Doc Premium Decking Oil

2.9  (21)
 Summary
L.Thompson
L.ThompsonVIC
 
No starsWouldn't waste my $ on Deck Doc. Had my deck professionally sanded back completely, went grey in a few months, but by this time it was winter, was re oiled again when weather permitted, is now grey except for where it was covered by b/q & outdoor setting. Now can't use other water base product, have to stick to oil base Show details

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

What's the difference between paint and varnish?

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 different 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 as oil-based paint.

What are the different 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.

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