Paint: Choosing a Finish

After months of living in the new apartment or home, you’ve been meaning to get some paint on those walls to bring a little more character into your living space. Perhaps you’re looking for durability or longevity in the paint you select because you plan on staying long term, or perhaps you just want the right color to boost a room’s character that seems a little too dull due to a lack of natural light.

The paint you put on the walls of your home can make all the difference in how your residence feels, and it’s not just about aesthetics. Durability and the protection against the elements a paint supplies are also important factors when considering what rooms will get the first coat.

While picking the color of your paint might seem like the most important task when planning on how the room will look overall, another consideration is picking the right sheen. The gloss of a paint can make all the difference in how the color is perceived by the naked eye, how durable the paint is, and how easily it is to hide imperfections in the wall or to clean when needed.

For the basics, the higher the sheen is of the paint, the higher the shine and ability to reflect light. Flat, or matte, paints offer no reflectivity of light, while semi-gloss and high-gloss paints reflect light, giving them a slight shine.

Depending on what you’re deciding will suit your room, flat or matte paints have no shine at all, and then there are several options in between that offer the perfect sheen if high-gloss, which is all shine, is too much.

Other Considerations for Paint

In addition to selecting a paint based on sheen, you should also consider the practical application of the room you choose to paint. Bathroom and kitchen paint applications are susceptible to water, humidity, soap and even grease from cooking. Another thing to consider when selecting a paint and its sheen is how much foot traffic the area will see. Even though you can apply whatever sheen you wish to almost any room in the house, some paints offer advantages over others.

While some paints may work best for your bedroom, a home office or other areas of the home with a steady influx of the beautiful, natural light from the sun, other rooms may have no windows at all.

By using the guide below, you can find out the specific nature of flat/matte, eggshell, satin, low-gloss and high-gloss paints, and the applications they are best suited for. By picking the choice that is best-suited to the rooms of your dwelling, you can ensure longevity of the paint while maintaining the aesthetic you desire for your home.

Things to Consider When Selecting a Paint Sheen

Texture of the Walls. Depending on which route you go, the texture of your wall might interfere with the paint application. The flatter the finish you select, the more the paint will hide the imperfections and nuances of the wall’s texture. For walls that have patches or are cracking, picking a flat, or matte, finish might be the best choice.

Natural Light and Room Size. When selecting a sheen, think about how much natural light is coming into a room and the feeling you want to convey visually. Because of the low reflectivity of flat finishes, it can help give the appearance of a wall receding, while the higher-gloss finishes will allow more light to bounce across the room.

How Will The Room Be Used. When it comes to how the room will be used, picking the right paint finish for more practical applications, such as normal wear and tear, and how easily it will be to clean, is important. For a wall that’s easiest to clean, go for the higher sheen.

Flat, or Matte, Paint

Flat, or matte, finishes are excellent paint sheens for areas of the home that will not see a lot of dirt, or foot traffic. They have a 0 to 10 percent gloss.

When Should You Use Matte Paint? If you have pets or children, you may want to avoid a flat finish on the walls as it is the most difficult to clean. However, the nature of the paint sheen is to soak up the light, providing no reflectivity.This provides an excellent option to hide imperfections in your walls, and cover up the wall quickly. Because they have more pigment, they take less work to cover and are the most economical selection in covering large spaces in the home. For those living on a budget or for those who do not wish to cover the cost of a more expensive sheen, matte finishes offer the most cost-effective solution to bringing that perfect aesthetic to your home without breaking the bank account.

Where Should You Use Matte Paint? Matte finishes are best suited for areas such as ceilings, bedrooms, living room and dining rooms that do not see a lot of traffic or dirt. In addition, the flat finish can be used to hide imperfections and damage to walls and makes it ideal for drywall that has been patched with joint compound or new drywall installations with imperfect taping.

Eggshell Paint

Like matte, eggshell is a lower-reflectivity sheen and can be used for similar applications while still providing the same elegant, smooth sheen. It’s easier to clean. Eggshell finishes have a slight gloss of about 10 to 25 percent, and are slightly more durable than flat finishes. However, they are not as durable as satin, semi-gloss or high-gloss paints.

When Should You Use Eggshell Paint? Like a flat finish, eggshell is best utilized for areas with low traffic and not susceptible to dirt. In addition, if you have pets or children, cleaning is not as easy with an eggshell paint. If you plan on using eggshell, consider the texture of your walls. Because of the lower reflectivity, eggshell offers a better ability to hide imperfections on your walls.

Where Should You Use Eggshell Paint? Ideally, eggshell paint is also best suited for areas such as ceilings, bedrooms, dining rooms and living areas where there is not a lot of dirt build up or traffic. In addition, its medium-level durability provides added protection a flat finish does not. For areas such as walls, eggshell works best and is easier to clean. It would not be suited for a kitchen or bathroom space.

Satin Paint

Occasionally, satin paint finishes are categorized along with eggshell because of their slight luster, but they are slightly more durable and have a higher sheen than eggshell finishes. Since they are more durable and easier to clean, they are a perfect middle ground, offering just a slight glow on walls while still providing many of the same benefits of eggshell and matte finishes. Satin offers about a 25 to 35 percent gloss when compared to matte and eggshell.

When Should You Use Satin Paint? Because satin has a slightly higher gloss and more durability than both eggshell and matte finishes, the application can be much more conducive to other areas in the home. It is also easier to clean than the lower reflective counterparts. It is ideal for more active rooms in the home and can even be used outdoors due to its higher durability. Consider its application, because unlike the eggshell or matte paints, satin does not hide imperfections as well and it is much harder to apply in a way that does not show an uneven application, making it difficult to touch up.

Where Should You Use Satin Paint? Satin paints are perfect for a lot of high-traffic rooms in the home and can be applied to hallways, foyers, guest bathrooms, on window and door trim, shutters, family rooms, children’s bedrooms, kitchens and laundry areas. Because of their higher durability, they are easier to clean as well and can make any room glow with a beautiful, elegant sheen.

Low, or Semi-Gloss, Paint

While satin  is slightly more reflective than eggshell or matte finishes, low,  or semi-gloss, paints have a much more noticeable sheen, making them highly durable, and clean off more easily. Even though they are reflective, they still don’t offer the reflectivity of a high-gloss application. Semi-gloss paints have a reflectivity of about 35 to 70 percent and can range greatly.

When Should You Use Low-Gloss Paint? If you are having trouble deciding if low-gloss is right for you, consider both the texture of the walls and the purpose of the room. Low-gloss paints are very durable and are ideally suited to very high-traffic areas of the home. They also provide better resistance to stains and damage. However, because of their higher reflectivity, you will be unable to hide imperfections in the wall.

Where Should You Use Low-Gloss Paint? Low-gloss paints can be used in a variety of spaces, including on doors, windows, trim work, molding, in hallways, bedrooms, dining rooms, kitchens, bathrooms and even cabinets. Due to their higher durability, they can also be utilized both indoors and outdoors. They are also ideally suited to areas that will experience water, soap, dirt or grease, and can be wiped clean with ease.

High-Gloss Paint

If you’re all about capturing that perfect, elegant shine, and the highest durability, then high-gloss paint finish is the best option for your application. High-gloss paints offer a 70 percent or higher reflectivity and are the easiest to clean when compared to semi-gloss, satin, eggshell and matte finishes. One of the major downsides to using high-gloss paints is nearly every imperfection in the wall will be highlighted by the sheen. In addition, areas susceptible to fingerprints should be coated in a high-gloss application over any other paint finish.

When Should You Use High-Gloss Paint? High-gloss is perfect for high-traffic areas, and rooms in your home that will see constant and heavy use. The highest durability and longevity can be achieved through high-gloss. While an application of this highly reflective paint might show the imperfections in your wall or dirt build up, cleaning is extremely easy when compared to matte or eggshell finishes.

Where Should You Use High-Gloss Paint? High-gloss finishes are perfect for door trims, woodwork, molding, cabinets, kitchens, bathrooms and even outdoor applications. Since it is the most durable type of paint available, you can also count on the longevity of the application. If you plan on staying in your home for many years, consider the benefits of applying high-gloss paint to high-traffic areas that will see dirt and damage. Due to the highly reflective nature of the paint, hiring a professional to apply it is a better choice, as it is difficult to maintain an even coat. The imperfections of the application will be far more noticeable when compared with flat, eggshell, satin or even semi-gloss finishes.

High-Gloss vs. Low-Gloss Paint  

High-gloss paint provides more durability and a much higher reflectivity than low-gloss paint. While many of the same areas of the home are both suited to low-gloss and high-gloss applications, consider the benefits of each and what you’re trying to achieve before selecting a finish. For areas such as bathrooms and kitchens, high-gloss might be the best choice. However, low-gloss may be more ideally suited to areas such as hallways, foyers and indoor applications.

High-Gloss vs. Eggshell vs. Satin Paint

Nearly opposite in reflectivity, durability and ease of cleaning, high-gloss paints are not ideally suited to the same areas of the home as eggshell paints. Eggshell paints are a far better choice for walls and low-traffic areas of the home because they are harder to clean effectively. Satin is a nice middle ground between high-gloss and eggshell, and might be the best choice if you are trying to determine if the aesthetic is more important than longevity.

High-Gloss vs. Matte Paint  

The difference between matte finishes and high-gloss is night and day. Matte finishes offer nearly zero reflectivity, while high-gloss is the highest light reflection available when it comes to sheen. In addition, matte paints are the least durable and are the hardest to clean. However, in rooms that see little traffic and areas such as ceilings, matte finishes not only offer an elegant, smooth sheen, they are also more economical than high-gloss paints.

Imperfections in the walls and even in the paint application itself are easily hidden by matte finishes, which have a very high amount of pigment. If you are wishing to complete a quick, do-it-yourself painting of your home, matte finishes offer the best way to hide those imperfections and a fresh coat that covers easily. High-gloss paints are very reflective, and you may want to hire a professional painter to apply them to specific areas of your home.

types of paint

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, feel free to contact us here at Home Remedy Houston. We’re always more than happy to help.