At Sophie James we want you to get the most out of our paint’s exceptional quality and durability, so we have put together a list of FAQs that will help you get the best finish on your home and garden decor. 

These FAQs are being updated all the time so if you have a question that is not currently on the list, please email us at

Paint uses

What surfaces can I use the paint on?

Sophie James Decor Paint can be used on interior and exterior walls, upcycling and craft projects, doors and wood trim, garden furniture, fences, summerhouses and sheds. It can also be used on wood and concrete flooring and metal and glass surfaces. 

Always check the instructions below for preparation required for your project.

Can I use the paint outside?

Our Decor paint can be used externally as well as internally, it’s unique formula and high quality ingredients means that it has excellent durability.

What do I need to do to prep the surface that I am painting?

Make sure that the surfaces are clean and dry.  Lightly abrade with fine abrasive paper.  If using on surfaces that have been contaminated with polish clean with sugar soap, rinse and allow to dry.  Don’t forget to thoroughly mix the paint with a stirrer before use. 

More details on preparing the surfaces prior to painting can be found on our Instructions page

Do I need to use a primer or finishing wax?

Our paint is self priming and includes an integrated surface wax, so no additional products are required.

How many coats of paint do I need to use?

We suggest using two coats to give the item or surface a really high quality finish.   Very vivid colours may need a third coat. 

Does Sophie James Paint contain chalk?

No, our Decor paint contains a non toxic natural mineral which unlike chalk, will boost its durability, weathering and will maintain its outstanding finish for years to come.

What else is in the paint and is it water based?

Sophie James Decor Paint is based on a unique blend of pigments, three high performance resins and a selection of additives to ensure best adhesion, ease of application and a smooth durable finish. *

Yes all of our paints are water based.

*For Trade use please  email us to receive full Material Safety Data Sheet 

Why do some colours need more coats then others

Different colours have different covering powers. Strong vibrant colours will have lower covering power and require more coats to be applied. This is because of the way light passes into and out of strong/vibrant colours.

The majority of the Sophie James range will give exceptional exception coverage in two coats , we call them High Solids colours.  There are eight vibrant colours in our range that we would recommend three- five coats.  They are:  Black, Dunwich, Neptune Blue, Autumn Leaf, Boleyn, Olive Grove, Francis Barnet Green and Mersea Sunset.

Is it environmentally friendly?

At Sophie James we formulate our paint to meet the requirements of UK Paint Directive 2012 ‘Low’ VOC (Volatile Organic Content) which has a upper limit 30g/litre. 

Our paint contains a maximum VOC content of 10g/litre

We use recyclable packaging and biodegradable packing chips.

I want to give my chest of drawers a distressed look, will your paint do that?

Yes!  Choose two contrasting colours and use the darker colour as a base.  Once your base is dry, apply one or two coats of the lighter contrasting colour and allow to dry.  When dry lightly rub the surface with fine sandpaper to reveal the base colour.  Alternatively, apply two coats of the same colour and lightly sand so you reveal some of the wood surface underneath.

Where is your paint made?

All of paint is handmade in our factory in Dedham.

Can the paint be used on MDF?

Yes, our paint is ideal for mdf – the paint formulation penetrates into the mdf surface and when dry binds the board particles and fibres. The thing to remember is that mdf is very absorbant particularly at the edges and where it has been cut. 

Choosing your colour

I can’t decide what colour to order, can I get a tester?

We know it’s difficult to know what colour will suit your room or furniture, so we have taken the guesswork out of it *.  All of our colours are available in a 50ml tester pot and A5 Peel and Stick sample.  Our Peel and Stick samples are hand painted by us so you can see exactly how your colour will look. 

*Please note that the colours will vary depending on screen settings on your device.  We cannot guarantee that paint colours will exactly match the colour you see on screen in our online shop

Can I create my own colour?

All our paints are compatible with each other, so they can be blended to create your own unique shade.

Payment, delivery and returns

How do I pay for my order?

We currently accept Paypal and Card payments (via the secure payment platform Stripe). 

How much is delivery?
Basket value up to £12£2 postage
Basket value from £13 – £29


 Free delivery on all orders over £30
How long will my order take to be delivered?

We aim to dispatch your orders within 3 working days but it’s quite often sooner than that.  Our 50ml tester pots and Peel & Stick Samples are sent by first class Royal Mail.

For our 250ml 1 & 2.5 Litre cans we use APC specialist liquid delivery service to keep your paint as safe as it can be. Unless they are exceptionally busy, APC aims to deliver the next working day.  On the morning of your delivery date, you will receive an email with your 2 hour delivery slot.

I live in the Scottish Highlands, will you deliver there?

Currently we are only able to deliver to the UK Mainland

I have changed my mind, how do I return my paint?

You are able return your paint within 14 days of the purchase date as long as the paint is unopened and in its original packaging.  Please contact us on so we can process this return.  For returns we will either send you a label so that you can post your return at your nearest collection point, or arrange a collection from you.

I live in Essex - can I collect directly from the factory?

Unfortunately due to Health & Safety guidelines and our additional Covid Restrictions collection is not possible.


Like most things, thorough preparation is vital for a good long-term result with painting projects. It is worth taking the time to prep the surfaces properly to get the best experience when using our paint.

Painting directly onto surfaces without proper preparation, can result in paint flaking and a lack of durability. 

 If you have any further questions please email us at

Suggested equipment list:
  • Dust sheet
  • Gloves (we would suggest nitrile)
  • Face mask (we would recommend FFP3 grade)
  • Two grades of abrasive paper: Coarse (60 grade) & Fine (120 grade)
  • Vacuum 
  • Sugar Soap
  • Abrasive sponge
  • Small firm bristle brush
  • Paint kettle 
  • Paint stirrer
  • Plain sponge
  • 2 inch good quality paint brush
  • Good quality paint roller medium to fine nap plus roller tray
  • Masking tape
  • And of course Sophie James Decor Paint!
Optional equipment list:
  • Moisture meter
  • Lead test swabs
  • Filler
  • Wire brush 
  • Paint scraper
Getting started

We want you to protect your home from paint spills.  We would recommend the use of dust sheets where appropriate and the use of gloves and a mask when painting.

Surface contamination forms a barrier which prevents paint bonding the surface to be painted, so it’s important to thoroughly prep and clean the area to be painted.   For example, contamination from oil, polish, dust and loose old paint etc

Prepping the Surface

Start by vacuuming to remove dust.  Use a proprietary “Sugar soap” to remove oil and old polish. Powder or liquid forms of sugar soap are both good – its more economical to use the powder versions on big projects. Use an abrasive sponge and scrubbing brush to work the sugar soap into the grimy areas – this will loosen and dissolve the surface contamination.

Most important, don’t let the sugar soap mixture dry- thoroughly rinse as you go with clean water using a clean sponge. Wipe with a clean cloth. Leave to dry. Porous surfaces such as plaster, concrete, render and unpainted timber should be left to thoroughly dry out. 

Glass – It is essential to ensure glass is free of any contaminants, including air born dirt from traffic.  Use a clean dry cloth and mentholated spirits to dissolve grim and while still wet use another clean cloth to absorb the solution.

Plastic – Wash with clean soapy water and rinse thoroughly. When dry lightly abrade with a fine 120 grade sand paper. Remove all dust before painting. 

*Sophie James tip A useful investment is a moisture meter, about £20 online – a small handheld gadget with two metal prongs which give a % reading of surface moisture. You need to get the moisture reading as low as possible- less than 8% for wood; 5% for plaster; 4% for concrete.

Once the surfaces are clean and dry, use coarse abrasive paper, stiff brush or a paint scraper to remove any loose flaking paint if necessary.

Fill large cracks with a ‘ready for use’ filler – leave till hard and dry.

Then use a fine abrasive paper to sand the entire area to be painted, vacuum and use a clean damp cloth to remove last traces of dust.

*Sophie James tip – old dry paint pre 1960 may contain lead which is toxic. This can be confirmed by use of a simple test kit.

Use masking tape to give a clean straight edge to areas not to be painted. Now the area is prepped you are ready to paint.

Starting to Paint

Remove the lid clips carefully with a small flat bladed screwdriver or blunt blade- take care as they can ping off.

Ensure the paint is mixed thoroughly, ideally using a flat paint stirrer. Make sure to reach the bottom of the can and stir at an angle.

 We advise pouring the paint into a separate vessel ie. a paint kettle.  Use a paint brush and cloth to clean the top rim of the can to ensure the lid can be replaced.

The paint can be thinned 10% with clean water in the kettle if required.  We would recommend this for the first coat on unpainted plaster.

Apply paint using a good quality brush, large areas can be painted using a quality roller of medium or short nap.

*Sophie James tip – only dip the brush into the paint to a maximum of a third of the length of the bristles. Spread the paint out using firm strokes in one direction. When the paint in the brush has been spread out use the brush to “lay off” at 90 degrees to the first spreading- this method will help give a smooth finish with no brush strokes and get maximum coverage from the paint. Practice on a piece of clean cardboard first. 

*Sophie James tip – when cutting in to a line or corner use a paint brush.  Do not have too paint on the bristles bend the bristles at angle to the line or corner draw the brush back and forth to gradually move the wet edge of the paint to the line required. 

Cleaning up

Carefully pour any unused paint from the kettle or roller tray back into the paint can.  Thoroughly wash brushes and rollers with clean water until all paint is removed.  

Trade use

For trade use the Material Safety Data Sheet can be obtained by emailing