Last updated: August 23, 2021
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Renovation work is just around the corner. This includes painting walls and ceilings. That adds up to a few square metres of painted surface. Painting is an expensive business. But what is the best way to cover stains and dirt ourselves? What do we have to pay attention to when painting? And which paint is the right one? With the right tips, painting is not only fun, you also have a nice clean flat afterwards. In our insulation paint test 2022 we want to help you find the best insulation paint. We have compared different insulating paints from different price ranges and listed their advantages and disadvantages.




Summary

  • Modern insulating paints are primers that help to make ceilings and walls visually appealing. They are used in private homes as well as in public areas. These paints are applied either by painting, rolling or spraying.
  • Stains are not a pretty sight on walls. Some stains even have a habit of bleeding through. With the right barrier paint, stains can be removed permanently. These paints apply a barrier layer to the stains, so to speak, and reliably prevent nicotine, soot and other stubborn stains from bleeding through.
  • There are different insulating paints depending on the area of application. The substrate determines which insulating paint is applied. When buying, criteria such as penetration, covering power and solvent should be taken into account.

The Best Insulating Paint: Our Picks

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying insulating paint

What is insulating paint?

Insulating paint is a special paint used for painting walls and ceilings. In the trade, but also among professionals, the term barrier paint is also used. Even though the name is different, it is still the same product.

There are numerous types of insulating paint available today. The paints are differentiated according to technical properties, such as hiding power, ingredients and solvents.

The aim of the insulating paint is to protect the building fabric from further damage and to maintain it. This involves the insulating effect of the paint. In contrast to ordinary wall paint, insulating paint is characterised by a specific composition. The mixture of insulating paint consists of high-quality components and pigments that conceal stubborn coatings. Due to the strong covering power, dirt and visually unattractive areas are reliably covered.

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Stubborn stains and dirt on walls can be reliably covered with insulating paint.
(Image source: pixabay.com / Free-Photos)

Some stains are stubborn and cannot even be painted with normal wall paint. This means that the stains reappear on the surface after a short time. For example, soot, grease and nicotine stains, old dried water damage, and lime and moisture deposits. Insulating paints have been produced for such stains. Insulating paints prevent the stains from reappearing on the surface. A great advantage of isolating paints is that the deposits do not penetrate through the paint layer, because a barrier is created between the wall and the paint, so to speak. These paints cover stubborn stains very reliably. Insulating paint is actually a primer that separates the substrate from the applied paint. A normal wall paint must then be applied on top of the insulating paint. However, before the paint is applied, the coat of insulating paint must be allowed to dry out completely to avoid repulsion and blistering.

What types of barrier paint are there?

Barrier paints are exceptional colours that even hold back mould. The migration and penetration of different coverings can be excellently prevented with isolating paint. Barrier paints only serve as a primer. Their ability to form a separating layer enables excellent coverage. Furthermore, they enable the separation of dye and substance. Therefore, some materials, such as wood, require extensive pre-treatment. After pre-treatment, the insulating paint is left to dry and then painted over with a wall paint. Insulating paints are not only emission-free, but also have a high insulating effect. Moreover, they consist of solvents that are not harmful to health. The following insulating paints are distinguished:

  • Insulating paint with and without solvent
  • Insulating paint for different surfaces
  • Insulating paint according to contamination

Solvent was used for a long time in the field of insulating paints. Water-based insulating paints were hardly used by craftsmen because the insulating effect was not sufficient. Poor coverage was the result of water-based paints. For the painting professional, the risk of a complaint and loss of money was too great. But in the meantime, environmentally friendly and solvent-free products have been developed that are also accepted by professional painters. They contribute to a healthy indoor climate in sensitive areas such as hospitals, kindergartens, etc. These new products offer the quality and meet the strict criteria of the craftsman. They have a reliable insulating effect and good processing properties. Today, not only solvent-based but also solvent-free insulating paints are offered. Apart from the solvent, it also makes sense to use a product that is matched to the wall and is expressly intended as a primer for the surfaces in question. Without the primer, painting and wallpapering can be tricky. Therefore, insulating paints are offered for many different substrates, such as plasterboard, sand-lime brick, fibreglass surfaces, wallpaper, concrete, wooden surfaces and much more. Not only the substrate, but also the soiling of the surfaces determine which insulating paint should be applied. Insulating paints are not only used to cover nicotine, soot and grease stains, but are also used for water damage and mould. With the right selection, the aforementioned stains can be perfectly covered. In the following table you will find the advantages and disadvantages of insulating paint.

Advantages
  • Prevents stains from penetrating
  • Strong coverage
  • Can be diluted with water
  • Free of harmful additives
  • Provides long-term protection
  • Works on multiple substrates
  • Has an insulating effect
  • Covers stubborn stains
Disadvantages
  • Insulating paint must be painted over afterwards
  • Drying time must be observed
  • Barrier paint is only a primer
  • Some stains must be pre-treated

Does insulating paint also help against mould?

Renovation work does not only involve painting with fresh new paint. It also involves some ancillary work such as covering up dirt and dust, as well as covering up noise. One of the more challenging tasks is the removal of mould stains. Insulating paint is a good remedy even for mould. But painting over it without pretreating the mould surface is unproductive. Before applying the barrier paint, the mould should first be professionally removed. The walls must be completely free of mould and thoroughly dry. This way you will achieve a reliable adhesion of the paint and a permanent coverage. If the mould infestation on the wall is relatively new, ordinary anti-mould agents are sufficient. You can buy these either at the DIY store or at the pharmacy. If the mould stains are older infestations, then the mould can no longer be treated superficially. For a permanent solution, an expert must be consulted.

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Insulating paint can be applied to the wall with a brush, roller or airless device (paint spray system).
(Image source: pixabay.com / stux)

What is a nicotine barrier?

Nicotine barrier refers to a pigmented coating that is used to paint nicotine-contaminated walls. This covers dirt and stains on the walls. In addition, the coating helps the nicotine to penetrate to the surface. Pigments are generally insoluble. It depends on the area of application and the properties of the pigmentation. Pigments are used, among other things, in oil paints, varnishes, printing inks, as a filler in paper production and for colouring textiles. A distinction is made between liquid and solid coating processes.

A coating is thus a firmly adhering layer that is applied to the surface of an object. The method of coating is important to influence the physical, electrical and chemical properties of the materials. Coating can be done by vapour deposition or spraying.

The right insulating paint can prevent nicotine stains from bleeding through to the fresh surface. In addition, health issues always arise when using paint. Fumes from solvent-based paints and primers usually linger indoors for weeks, if not months. Breathing in these toxic substances can seriously affect our health. The best thing to do then is to opt for formulations containing harmless substances. To avoid unwanted emissions, you should choose products from responsible manufacturers. You can get information about toxic substances from a qualified dealer during a consultation in a specialist shop.

Buying criteria: You can compare and evaluate insulating paint based on these factors

Area of application

Barrier paints are mainly offered according to their area of application. There are paints for indoor and outdoor use. Furthermore, insulating paints are offered as a primer for wood, for mould and water stains, and for nicotine discolouration. Insulating paints can thus be selected specifically for facades, basements and other interior rooms in the house. The right insulating paint can also be used to insulate damp areas, such as cellars or mouldy areas in the bathroom.

Paint

Insulating paints are offered in various discreet shades. However, white is the most common colour. Depending on which wall colour will later be applied to the insulating paint, the priming paint should be chosen sensibly. This guarantees a certain compatibility and the insulating paint does not stand out after application. The colours should also match each other in terms of quality so that incompatibilities are excluded. Otherwise, bubbles may form or the colours may run or be rejected. So when buying, pay attention to the quality of the insulating paints.

Basic materials

You should also ask yourself which base material you want to apply the insulating paint to. It is important to know that insulating paint does not adhere to all substrates. Not all barrier paints can be applied to all smooth and rough substructures without problems. Therefore, when buying, pay attention to the processing instructions, especially the preparation of the substrates. For some materials, such as wood and chipboard, the material must be pretreated beforehand. In order to achieve an optimal hold and coverage, these materials should be freed from grease or other coatings. Furthermore, insulating paints only hold on absorbent and load-bearing substructures. The ready-to-use paints are offered for the following surfaces:

  • Plasterboard
  • Sand-lime brick
  • Glass fibre surfaces
  • Masonry, plaster
  • Concrete, mortar
  • Woodchip and textured wallpaper
  • Wooden surfaces: plywood, chipboard, hardboard
  • and much more.

Primers serve to protect the material and at the same time create the conditions for applying further layers, for example decorative layers. There are materials on which coatings do not adhere well. These are pre-treated with so-called adhesion primer, also called deep primer, before the insulating paint is used.

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The right primer permanently prevents stains from bleeding through.
(Image source: pixabay.com / Free-Photos)

Toxins

Another important aspect to consider is the choice between solvent-based and solvent-free insulating paints. This criterion is more about protecting health than about the impact of the paint. Insulating paints containing solvents are mixed with contact adhesive and cause an extreme odour nuisance during application and even afterwards. They contain various pollutants in certain concentrations. Among others, aldehydes, organic acids, hydrocarbons and alcohols. The rooms must be ventilated for a longer period of time after application in order to eliminate the unpleasant odours. Otherwise they can cause health problems. Solvent-free insulating paints contain half as many harmful substances and are even suitable for allergy sufferers. This criterion in particular should not be underestimated. For your own health, it would be advisable to pay attention to the ingredients of the insulating paint.

Numerous good products from responsible manufacturers are available on the market.

Many of the building chemical products used in renovation work contain water as a solvent. You should choose paints and adhesives that use water as a solvent. This is because water is not only an ecologically safe solvent, but also one that is not harmful to health.

Opacity

The hiding power and the insulating effect of the insulating paint determine whether impurities are permanently and safely rendered harmless. If both conditions are met, stains will not become visible again when wallpapering or painting over. Special water-based insulating paints can be used to partially paint individual soiled areas or to paint the entire surface like a conventional emulsion paint. Nicotine discolouration used to pose a particular challenge because it was not possible to work with solvent-based insulating paints. Today, even nicotine stains can be permanently removed with insulating paints that have a strong covering power. The paint can be applied with a brush, a roller or a suitable sprayer, also called airless. For cleaning the tools used, clear water and at most soap is sufficient for the brush and roller. A valuable contribution to the environment and health.

Walk-through

Some stains may appear to have disappeared as a result of the painting process. But the drying process can make these discolourations visible again and create unsightly patterns on the walls. Dirt that shows through can be treated beforehand to prevent such stains from appearing in the first place.

The list of contaminants is long. The most common are nicotine deposits and dried water stains. But coffee or tea stains, as well as soot stains near the fireplace, can also be resistant when painted over.

Colouring ingredients as well as water-soluble substances in or on the substrate of some materials are rather difficult to paint over. Stains can always penetrate to the surface. For example, the lignin contained in wood can migrate to the surface and cause stains again. Furthermore, soot stains are rather stubborn, as soot contains oil and is difficult to cover with water-soluble insulating paint. Grease stains in the kitchen should be cleaned beforehand by pre-treatment. Before the surfaces are insulated, the stains should be treated with a grease remover spray, for example, to prevent the stain from migrating. Until now, the above-mentioned stains were combated with so-called "penetrating" agents. These were insulating paints that contained solvents and had a strong odour. These paints sometimes made the rooms uninhabitable due to the strong odour. Today, such stains can also be covered with solvent-free insulating paints. These products are not only environmentally friendly, but also gentle on the sensitive nose.

Interesting facts about insulating paint

How is insulating paint applied?

Stains are not a pretty sight on walls. To remove them, you can find commercially available tools in the do-it-yourself market. Before you start, you should get the right tools and materials. First, the wall must be prepared, i.e. freed from excess coatings. Different stains need different pre-treatments. Penetrating substances can be very challenging, such as mould and water stains. In the case of water stains, the salts must be removed first. These can be easily removed by scraping and scrubbing. As the removal of the salts has left unevenness on the wall, the wall must then be filled with filler.

Thanks to the insulating paint, stains are completely removed and do not reappear.

If the stains are not removed properly, they have a habit of working their way through the wall. To make the stain disappear for good, insulating paint is applied to the cleaned surface. You can apply the paint with a simple brush or roller. There are also sprayers that make applying the paint very easy. As soon as the insulating paint is completely dry, which can take a few hours, fresh paint is applied to the wall. To achieve a beautiful result, you can also apply a second coat of paint.

How long does insulating paint take to dry?

Once the insulating paint has been applied to the surface to be treated, it still has to dry before wall paint can be applied. But how long does it take for the paint to dry? The drying time takes up to 12 hours at + 20 °C and a maximum humidity of 65 %. At lower temperatures, such as in winter, and higher humidity, the drying time may be longer. Afterwards, the rooms can be used again or painted over with wall paint. Information on drying times can be found in the technical data sheet of the respective product.

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