So you’ve finally picked out the perfect paint color to completely transform the look of your bathroom, kids’ room, or even several rooms in your home, but here comes the next big decision—which paint finish do you choose? The type of finishes you’ll likely find in most paint collections range from most to least reflective: high gloss, gloss, semi-gloss, satin, eggshell, matte and flat. But what difference does the finish really make? And how do you know which finish is right for which room? Lucky for you, Zoe’s ProEdge Painting is here to help.
There’s a basic rule of thumb to follow when selecting a paint finish: the higher the sheen, the higher the shine—and the higher the shine, the more durable it will be. Even subtle differences in the amount of gloss that a type of paint has (e.g. a semi-gloss vs. satin finish) can make a dramatic difference in the end result of the room, so it is important to choose the right finish before starting your painting project.
The following key comparisons will help you know which finish to use:
1. High Gloss
High gloss paints have 85% gloss or higher. This paint is good for highlighting special architecture such as cornices, crown moulding, cabinets and doors. Since imperfections really show up, it’s important to have quality prep work done in advance. This paint is usually used in small areas for a dramatic appeal.
Like high gloss, gloss paints show imperfections in the wall but are great for clean-ups for high traffic areas. Gloss has 70-85% gloss finish and makes a nice coating for cabinets, trim and doors.
Semi-gloss, with its 35-75% sheen, is a nice compromise between functional, with its easy wipe-downs, and stylish, with its pleasant shine. Trim, windows, woodwork, kitchens, bathrooms and doors are common places for semi-gloss paint. A mildew-resistant blend can be a smart choice for windows and bathrooms where moisture can build up.
For a more sophisticated look, a satin finish with 25-35% gloss can give you a cleanable surface for high traffic areas while still retaining the style that you want. Satin will cover blemishes on the wall or filled-in nail holes with less noticeability than with the higher sheens. Ceilings, trim, doors and kids’ rooms are popular locations for satin finishes.
With 10-25% gloss, eggshell finish can make a nice choice for walls. A slight sheen and some careful cleaning potential gives eggshell paint the advantage in decorating the walls of a living room, adult bedroom or dining room.
Matte finishes have only 5-10% shine and can only tolerate a very light, infrequent cleaning, but they make a dramatic statement in decorating. When you’re looking for a deep, bold color for the walls, and you’ve taken into consideration the natural lighting, matte can be an outstanding choice.
The final choice and the one with the least sheen is flat. Flat paint consists of only 0-5% gloss. These walls will show no shine whatsoever and will be difficult to clean unless you get a special blend that allows for better cleaning ability. However, the biggest selling point for flat paint is that it successfully hides the many flaws found in old walls and pockmarked ceilings. Popular locations for flat include formal dining rooms, living rooms, closets, ceilings, libraries and offices.