PAINT: Frequently Asked Questions

Please see below for answers to frequently asked questions regarding: Colour Advice, Samples, Paint Finish, Undercoat, Paint Coverage, Application, Archived Colours and our Ethical Promise.


Colour Advice


Can you recommend matching/complementary colours?

Each of our paints and wallpapers features complementary colours so you can create a coordinated scheme.

On our website, each paint shade and wallpaper colourway features three coordinating colours. You can also find three complimentary colour swatches on each design in our wallpaper books.

You can also find colour advice in our 'Little Book of Colour' a compact colour tool which allows you to combine and coordinate Little Greene colours with confidence. The book contains all 191 Little Greene colours with a breakdown of the pigments used to create them and provides related whites, neutrals, coordinating, accent & dark colour suggestions for each shade on the colour card making it easy to create a harmonious, beautiful colour scheme. 

For personalised colour advice, our Marylebone and Chelsea showrooms provide a Colour Consultancy service both In Home and In Store. Click here to find out more.

We also provide a Bespoke Colour Consultancy service for projects that require a more specialised approach. Our Colour Specialist, Simon Hutchinson provides a bespoke colour advice and personal colour creation service.


Can you recommend a colour for a specific room?

For personalised colour advice, our Marylebone and Chelsea showrooms provide a Colour Consultancy service both In Home and In Store. Click here to find out more.

We also provide a Bespoke Colour Consultancy service for projects that require a more specialised approach. Our Colour Specialist, Simon Hutchinson provides a bespoke colour advice and personal colour creation service.


Can you provide an RAL code for your colours?

Unfortunately, we are unable to provide either an RAL or BS reference, as we are unable to match our colours.




Can I purchase sample pots in any finish?

Sample Pots are available in our most popular finish, Absolute Matt Emulsion - perfect for testing colour on your own walls.

We would advise painting the colour onto an A4 swatch and moving it around the room throughout the day. This will show you how the colour will appear in different lights.


Can I purchase sample pots in 250ml or just 60ml?

All of our paint sample pots are poured by hand and come in 60ml tester pots.

Any of our colours that are not on our existing 'Colours of England', 'Grey' or 'Green' colour cards are available to order as Archive Colours. These can be purchased in a 250ml tester size.


What’s the difference between the Little Book of Colour and the Colour Album?

Our Colour Album features A5 sheets painted with all 198 colours, to give a large, accurate colour sample. The Colour Album is ideal for professional use, for interior designers or in showrooms.

The Little Book of Colour is a comprehensive colour tool with suggestions for using colours together. The Little Book of Colour is designed to help you combine and coordinate Little Greene colours with confidence. 


Do you have technical data sheets available?

Product data sheets are available for download here. Product MSDS documents can be supplied on request by calling 0845 880 5855 or via email using


Paint Finish


What’s the difference between Absolute Matt and Intelligent Matt?

Absolute Matt Emulsion is our original classic flat paint for walls and has the most matt finish offered by any Little Greene paint.

Intelligent Matt Emulsion is the most popular of our ‘Intelligent Paints’ family and is more durable and completely washable – perfect for high traffic areas.


What’s the difference between Intelligent Eggshell and Flat Oil Eggshell?

Both our eggshell finishes are suitable for interior use, particularly when painting woodwork and primed metals.

Intelligent Eggshell is a water-based paint, formulated to resist moisture, staining and general wear and tear. It has a tough yet subtle finish and is a superb paint for woodwork and kitchen & bathroom walls.

Flat Oil Eggshell is a more traditional, oil-based paint with a gloss level of 15-20% suitable for most surfaces including woodwork and primed metals. Please allow time for the finish to fully cure following application, the paint should be cured after 4 weeks.

Please note that specific preparation and priming information will be dependent upon the nature of the substrate and the presence of any existing finish or treatment. Please contact our Customer Service team for more details.


What’s the difference between water-based and oil-based paint?

Water-based paints are thinner and therefore dry quicker than oil-based alternatives, they also have a lower VOC (volatile organic compounds) content and are therefore more eco-friendly.

With a nine hundred year pedigree, oil-based paints have long been recognised as the classic finish for woodwork. By forming a deeper bond with the surface than is possible with a quick-drying paint, traditional oil-based recipes are renowned for their increased longevity, excellent flow and smooth finish. 


What should I use to paint kitchen cupboards?

Our Flat Oil Eggshell or Intelligent Eggshell are the most favoured products for painting kitchen cabinets.

Please note that specific preparation and priming information will be dependent upon the nature of the substrate and the presence of any existing finish or treatment. Please contact our Customer Service department for more details. 


Do you sell paint suitable for wood?

For painting wood, including skirting boards and kitchen cabinets, we would recommend the quick-drying Intelligent Eggshell.


Can I paint melamine or plastic surfaces?

Melamine can be painted if thoroughly sanded and then primed with our Traditional Oil Primer Undercoat. The finish can be either Flat Oil Eggshell or Intelligent Eggshell


What type of paint can be used on radiators?

For painting radiators, we recommended using Little Greene Intelligent Eggshell or Intelligent Gloss as, unlike all modern day solvent-based paints, they are guaranteed not to yellow upon exposure to heat.

If you are applying paint directly to bare metal, or painting over a radically different colour beneath, use Traditional Oil Primer Undercoat to build up coverage and maximise adhesion.

Read our full advice article on Painting Radiators.


Is your paint low odour, non-toxic and safe for children?

All our water-based paints are low odour. Our most environmentally-friendly paints are our tough and washable Intelligent Matt Emulsion, the supremely resilient Intelligent Eggshell, and also our Absolute Matt Emulsion and Intelligent Gloss have all been certified as Child Safe under BS EN 71-3: 2013 (also known as the Toy Paint Regulations).

Please consult the product data sheets for further detail.


What paint is best for painting a bathroom?

Formulated to resist moisture, staining and general wear and tear, Intelligent Eggshell has a tough yet subtle finish. It is a superb paint for bathroom walls, especially for rooms which may have limited extraction or suffer from condensation. 


Do you sell floor paint?

Yes we do! Floor Paint has an attractive and extremely tough mid-sheen finish and uses our eco-oil recipe, which has been formulated using naturally occurring vegetable oils.

Painting the floor is an easy yet dramatic way to change the feel of a room, and with most of the Little Greene colour range at your fingertips you can be as bold or as subtle as you like.


Does your external masonry paint have a minimum temperature for use?

Masonry Paint should not be applied to surfaces when the ambient temperature is below 5 degrees or if there is a risk of rain during application or drying. Avoid painting in full sun or on warm surfaces.

For best results, always attempt to time the painting of a given elevation prior to exposure to direct sunlight.


How do I paint a cast iron bath?

Ensure that the external cast iron bath surface is thoroughly clean and rust free. Apply one or two coats of our Traditional Oil Primer Undercoat.

Then apply your chosen colour using Flat Oil Eggshell, Traditional Oil GlossIntelligent Gloss or Intelligent Eggshell (highly recommended).

Please consult individual product data sheets for further information on surface preparation, application and drying times.





Which primer/undercoat do I need?

Order an undercoat in the same colour as your chosen top coat.

Select either Little Greene Intelligent Primer Undercoat (water-based) or Traditional Oil Primer Undercoat for all interior and exterior priming and sealing wallboard, concrete, brick, woodwork, metals or plaster. 

Read our full advice article about Choosing the Correct Primer or Undercoat for your Project.


What is the benefit of undercoat? (compared to another layer of paint)

Using an undercoat will ensure full depth of colour of your chosen paint colour. Undercoat is vital to seal unpainted surfaces or prepare the surface for painting.

If you are transitioning from a dark to a light colour, the undercoat has properties which will help obliterate the colour beneath before applying the top coat. 


Paint Coverage


What is the average coverage of a tin of paint?

Paint coverage varies according to the chosen finish.

Based on a single coat, you can expect an average coverage of 14 square metres per litre for Absolute Matt Emulsion, Intelligent Matt Emulsion, Intelligent Eggshell, Intelligent Gloss and Floor Paint.

Our oil-based paints, including Traditional Oil Gloss and Flat Oil Eggshell, cover around 16 square metres per litre.

More specialist paints have a wider variance in coverage: Masonry Paint covers around 13 square metres per litre, Distemper covers 15 square metres per litre and Limewash covers an average area of 6 square metres per litre as is soaks into the porous stone.


How many coats of paint should I use?

There are conditions specific to your project that can affect this, but we would always recommend a minimum of two coats.

Our paints have excellent coverage; they are formulated on a high-opacity base and contain up to 40% more pigment than many ordinary paints. Using a tinted Primer Undercoat will significantly help you achieve a full and accurate depth of colour, whilst also priming the surface underneath.


How long should I leave paint to dry between coats?

Please refer to the technical data sheet for your chosen paint finish for drying time.




Is your paint suitable to apply by roller?

Our paint can be applied using traditional brushes or rollers, depending on the desired final appearance.

Rollers provide a smooth uniform finish on well-prepared walls; whereas paint brushes can be useful for edging and uneven surfaces.

For further information about application of each paint type, see the detailed product data sheets.


Can your paint be applied with a spray canister?

Some of our paint finishes can be thinned (with the addition of 5-25% clean water) suitable for application using a spray canister.

For further information about each specific paint finish, please see the detailed product data sheets.


How long must I wait before painting over new plaster?

We recommend leaving a fresh plaster skim for at least four weeks, as the plaster needs to be completely dry before applying paint.

For new, fully plastered walls, allow at least six months for the plaster to dry thoroughly. 


What paint should I use on lime plaster walls?

For painting internal lime plaster walls or walls that require a breathable finish, we would advise using Distemper.

For exterior walls that are old and damp, Limewash is a very traditional finish, used to decorate and protect porous stone and lime-rendered surfaces. Like Distemper, Limewash is a breathable finish. Unlike paint, limewash penetrates the surface and the colour is built up by applying successive coats. 


What should I use to clean my paint brushes?

For water based paints, use water and for oil based paints, use white spirit or a specific solvent-based cleaner.


Archived Colours


Can I still order colours that are not on the colour card?

At Little Greene we never discontinue a colour, however we will remove colours from the current colour card to make way for new shade. We keep all these colours archived.

You can order Archive Colours in a 250ml sample pot by calling our Customer Services team on 0161 230 0880 or browsing online.


I can't find the Traditional Oil Eggshell finish, do you still make it?

Traditional Oil Eggshell has been discontinued; our new oil-based eggshell is Flat Oil Eggshell.

Designed specifically for interior use, the formula has been developed to give superior, glide-on application characteristics with extended workability and open time, making brushing out a real pleasure, even for the least confident of painters.




Are your paints cruelty free?

Little Greene has not, and never will commission or support animal testing.

All our paint finishes are free from any animal derived products. We always source the highest quality materials with our environmental and ethical values in mind. 


What is a VOC?

VOC stands for Volatile Organic Compound and these contribute to atmospheric pollution when they evaporate (while you're painting). There are chemicals used in all industries that are classified as VOCs, from paints and building materials to soaps and cleaning products.

As a rule of thumb, water based paints generally very little VOCs, whilst traditional oil based paints contain some, but in very insignificant levels. If you suffer with asthma it’s definitely worth choosing a zero VOC paint, otherwise the decision is usually just a preference for one type of paint over another.