How to stop gloss paint going yellow

by Sam Wood | Last Updated: 21/06/2021

If you have ever painted anything with white gloss then you will have undoubtedly been infuriated when it starts to yellow. But why does gloss paint yellow over the years, and can you do anything to stop it? Well, let’s find out!

Why does gloss yellow?

Oil-based gloss has always had a habit of yellowing, but modern paints do this much quicker than they ever used to. This is all down to paint formulation and VOC’s (volatile organic compounds). In 2010 the EU introduced a limit on VOC’s in paint. This has lead to paint manufacturers having to change the makeup of their oil-based paints and one of the outcomes of this is that they yellow much more quickly than they ever used to.

Now VOC’s are dangerous to both you and the environment so all round the rules are probably a good thing. But it has changed how good oil-based paints are, they really don’t make them like they used to.

Lack of natural light seems to speed up the yellowing of the paint, which is actually counter to what a lot of people believe, so if your area doesn’t get much sun then it may yellow really quickly.

How to stop gloss paint from going yellow

The easiest way to stop gloss going yellow is to use a water-based gloss. Unlike oil-based gloss, the water-based gloss does not yellow over time. Apart from that one of the few things you can do is to try and let natural light in, or even artificial light directly on the wood. This will slow down the yellowing process.

While it used to have a reputation for being pretty crap, water-based gloss is getting better and better. All of the major paint manufacturers have seemed to have developed better and better water-based gloss paints. I use Leyland trade water-based gloss and while it doesn’t paint as well as the oil-based it does have lots of other advantages.

So what are these advantages?

Well to start with water-based gloss doesn’t give off any nasty fumes, making it much nicer to paint with. It is also better for both you and the environment as it contains much fewer VOC’s. And then one of the big differences is the ease of cleaning up, being water-based this paint can be cleaned simply by just running it underwater.

What water-based gloss do you recommend?

Well, this depends on the finish you are after. Water-based gloss is never going to be as shiny as oil-based. This is one of the reasons satinwood is gaining in popularity. This mid-sheen finish is easy to paint and will not yellow for a long, long time.

My Favourite
Leyland Trade 306715 Fast Drying Satin, Brilliant White, 2.5 Liters
£20.00 (£8.00 / l)
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09/23/2021 04:36 pm GMT

This is my choice when it comes to satin finish white paint. It is a decent price and has always done the job well for me. It is really quick-drying, meaning you can get coats down quick, even with sanding inbetween.

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Wood by name, wood by nature. I am a fully qualified, time-served, award-winning joiner with an NVQ Level 3 in Carpentry and Joinery as well as an HNC in Construction. Beyond my joinery qualifications, I have also earned a degree in building surveying. I believe these qualifications make me perfectly positioned to provide expert advice on many different areas of DIY as well as share all of the tips I have picked up in over a decade working on building sites!