Whether you’re painting an entire building or a single room, choosing the right paint finish is essential to ensuring the color looks great and the paint lasts. That’s because the finish determines how much light the paint reflects, how easy it is to clean, and how the paint wears. In this post, we describe your options to help you choose the right paint finish for your project.
What Is a Flat Finish?
Commonly referred to as matte, flat paint finishes don’t reflect light, they absorb it. These paints tend to look richer and deeper than the glossier finish options. Flat paints are also highly affordable due to superior coverage. A popular choice for ceilings, matte colors are also great at hiding imperfections, such as small lines and cracks.
With all those positives, you might assume flat paints would be great anywhere in a home or business. Not quite. That flat finish makes these paints difficult to clean and all that scrubbing leads to bare patches. We don’t recommend flat finish paints for kitchens, breakrooms, or children’s bedrooms. They also don’t do well in humid environments, so we advise against using matte paints in bathrooms, basements, or on exterior surfaces.
Choose a flat finish paint for the ceiling or in a room with low humidity, one whose walls don’t attract stains or require frequent cleaning.
What Is an Eggshell Finish?
As the name implies, eggshell paints have the low sheen of an eggshell, with just a hint of shine. This finish has a rich, velvety appearance, and the lack of shine helps eggshell paints hide minor blemishes.
Eggshell paints also have great coverage. They’re more difficult to clean than glossy and satin finishes are, but easier than flat paints. You should avoid painting a kitchen or dining area with eggshell finish paints, but they’re great in conference rooms, living areas, and adult bedrooms.
Pros and Cons of Satin Finish Paints
Satin paints are glossier – and therefore easier to clean – than either flat or eggshell finishes are. These paints don’t have a high shine. Instead, they have the velvety, lustrous appearance you see in satin fabric (hence the name).
Since they’re easier to clean, satin finish paints are a popular choice in higher traffic areas where walls are more likely to require cleaning. That means kitchens, bathrooms, and even children’s bedrooms are good choices for satin paints. They are also popular when painting doors, windows, and the trim surrounding those areas.
One downside to satin finish paints is that they cost a bit more, in part because they don’t have the same level of coverage as flat and eggshell do. Another downside is that satiny paints don’t hide imperfections. To get that smooth, satin finish, you have to repair any issues before you paint.
Semi-Gloss Finish Paints
With a higher shine and a smooth feel, cleaning spills and stains from semi-gloss finish paints is very easy. Even your young Rembrandt’s crayon drawings wipe off of walls with a semi-gloss finish. These paints are also ideal for kitchens and bathrooms, as they resist humid conditions.
Ease of cleaning also makes semi-gloss paints popular for use on trim and even furniture. However, you do get less coverage, since semi-gloss paints nearly always require two coats. And, the paint itself tends to cost more than less shiny options do.
The Pros and Cons of High Gloss Finish Paints
If you’re looking for a deep shine that reflects a lot of light, you want a high gloss finish paint. In addition, these paints are a breeze to clean and extremely durable. They’re great for both humid and high traffic areas, so you can use them anywhere (although you probably want to avoid painting your ceiling with a high-gloss paint).
The two cons with high gloss finish paints are cost and their habit of revealing every surface imperfection. Costs are higher because (1) the paint itself costs more and (2) you always need to apply multiple coats. A high gloss finish also reveals every tiny imperfection, meaning you need to patch or repair every crack, crevice, and hole before painting.
In addition to walls that require regular cleaning, use high gloss paints for furniture, doors, windows, and trim.
Final Tips for Choosing the Right Paint Finish
When you first meet with your painting contractor, you need to provide some basic information about the area to be painted. Your contractor will use this information to help determine the best paint finish for your project. In addition to square footage, your contractor will want to know how much traffic the area normally receives and how often you have to clean the walls. Also, what products do you use to clean the walls? In terms of how it affects the paint, there’s a big difference between a basic wipe down and heavy-duty cleaners. You also need to determine your budget, which plays a large role in determining the best paint finish for your job.
If you’re ready to start your project or have any questions about the ideal paint choice, give us a call at 800-776-0750. Or, complete our contact form, giving us the basic details of your paint job, and we’ll respond as quickly as possible.