Paint Sheen Guide: Types of Paint Finishes

Paint transforms the look of a home, but it is not only the color that matters. The finish of the paint also affects the look and lasting beauty of the project. Before you begin any redecorating or remodeling, make sure to review this paint sheen guide to help you find the right paint for any project.

Flat or Matte Finishes

Flat or matte are the types of paint finishes that will create a smooth look on most walls. Choose this for rooms that have imperfect surfaces because the paint will not reflect light. Reflected light can accentuate bumps and dips and make them more noticeable.

Flat paint also has more pigment, and it will cover the wall more thoroughly with each coat than any other finish. The use of it requires less paint per square foot and reduces the cost of the project. The ability to cover the surface with a single coat can make the work easier too.

The problem with flat paint is the durability issue. On its own, it will last like any other paint, but it will not wash easily. Washing crayons, finger marks, or scuff marks from the wall could damage the paint. Use flat paint finishes only in rooms where the walls are less likely to experience dirt and stains.

Eggshell Paint Finish

You may think of eggshell as an off-white color, but decorators use the term to describe a finish with only a slight sheen to the otherwise flat surface. The paint works best in the same rooms as flat or matte finishes because it has the same qualities. Eggshell paint finishes do clean up slightly easier than flat paint.

Satin Finish Paints

A step up from eggshell is satin. A room covered in satin paint will have a velvety look. Satin makes the walls easier to clean, but it will highlight imperfections more than flat finishes. Experts recommend satin for use in bathrooms as it has an attractive light bouncing sheen without too much gloss.

A concern with satin is that the application can make painting errors more obvious. Satin is a paint finish that dries quickly. Brushstrokes may stay visible after the paint dries and become even more noticeable after a second coat. If done carefully, satin walls can create a beautiful and durable finished surface.

Semi-Gloss Paint

The shine of a semi-gloss paint makes it one of the most durable and reliable paint finishes. As the second-most glossy paint option, it cleans with ease. Semi-gloss also dries to a hard finish, so it is useful for trim pieces that often experience more abuse than the walls.

Glossy Paint Finishes

The shiniest types of paint finishes are also the most durable and cleans easiest. Glossy paints harden to a nearly metal-like finish that holds up to a lot of traffic. Glossy paints will make imperfections in the surface stand out, but they also clean with ease. Glossy paints work perfectly in kitchens, rooms with fireplaces or woodstoves, and in playrooms and kids’ bedrooms. High gloss is the option in any paint sheen guide that is most likely to survive thousands of cleanings over the years.

High gloss paints leave a glass-like finish that can make a home beautiful, but the look can suffer if it is not applied correctly. Gloss paint can form bubbles, reveal brush lines, and drip. Apply in thin coats with a foam roller or brush to prevent visible brush strokes. Address bubbles and dripped paint immediately to reduce the need to sand between coats.

Key Points to Remember

  • The shinier the paint, the easier it cleans.
  • Imperfections hide easier when the finish has no sheen.
  • Use glossier paint in areas that experience heavy use.
  • Use flat paint in quieter areas of the home.
  • Satin finishes dry quickly and show brushstrokes, so work fast but cautiously.
  • Use foam brushes and rollers when applying paint with a high-gloss finish.

The right paint finish ensures the room looks its best even years down the road. Using the same paint throughout a home for consistency may not yield the positive results a homeowner wants. Instead, use the paint finish designed for the room and the lifestyle of the family.

If you need help with painting your home, contact FD Remodeling of Atlanta for your painting projects.  Our experts can help you choose the right finish.

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