Learn the pros and cons of different paint finishes. Picking the correct paint finish, or sheen, can make or break a painting project.
A couple of weeks ago, I did a Facebook Live in my group. (If you’re not a member of the group, you can join here!) I did the Facebook Live in our bathroom to show how I choose paint colors for a room. During the live, there was some discussion about paint finishes, and what paint finish I was going to use for our bathroom walls.
I’m also working on a free guide for picking out paint colors, and my daughter suggested doing a post about different paint finishes to go along with the guide. (I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought of it before!) So, here it is. Hopefully this post will help you decide what paint finish to use for your painting project.
It’s important to know the pros & cons of the different paint finishes so that you can pick out the finish that will give you the best end result with your painting project. When you go to buy your paint at the store, the first question they’re going to ask is what paint finish you want!
Pros & Cons of Paint Finishes
First, let’s talk about what I mean by paint finish. The paint finish is the amount of sheen in the paint. The more sheen a paint has, the more light is reflected off of it.
The sheen is the amount of gloss in a paint. Below is a picture I took of paint chips from a fan deck I have. Each paint chip is painted in the same color, but the amount of sheen or gloss is different for each one.
Here are the pros and cons of the different paint finishes:
- High gloss – (70% to 89% gloss) – High gloss paint is very shiny. It’s easy to clean, but it will show all imperfections in the surface you’re painting. So, if you have an older house, it may not be the best choice. It’s good for high traffic areas. Not usually used for walls or furniture, but can be good for trim and doors.
- Semi-gloss – (41% to 69% gloss) – Semi-gloss has slightly less gloss than high gloss, and is also easy to clean. It will also show imperfections in the surface you’re painting. A semi-gloss paint finish is also good for trim, cabinets and doors in high traffic areas.
- Satin – (26% to 40% gloss) – A satin paint finish has less gloss than the first two finishes, but is still washable. It will not show as many imperfections in the surface. A satin paint finish is a good for doors, trim, cabinets and furniture.
- Eggshell – (10% to 25% gloss) – Even less gloss, but is washable. Good for walls in high traffic areas. Like kid’s rooms, bathrooms, kitchens and hallways.
- Flat or matte – (Flat – 0% to 4% gloss) (Matte – 5% to 9% gloss) – These two finishes are often grouped together, but there is a slight difference between them. A flat paint finish has hardly any gloss in it, so it’s good for hiding imperfections. It’s a great paint finish to use on ceilings. It can be used for walls, but you won’t be able to wash the walls if they get dirty or scuffed. You’ll have to touch up those areas with paint. A matte paint finish has a little more gloss in it, so it is more washable than a flat paint, but will still hide imperfections in the surface. A matte finish is sometimes called a velvet or suede paint finish. It’s great for painting walls in areas that get more traffic.
I’ve been using a matte paint finish for our walls for the last few years. I like Benjamin Moore’s Regal Select, and also Behr’s Marquee (you can behr paint at Home Depot. The matte paint finish hides the imperfections in the walls, but is still more washable than a flat paint.
For our trim, doors, cabinets and furniture, I’ve been using a satin finish. I like Pittsburgh Paints’ Breakthrough paint for those type of painting projects.
I hope this post has helped clear up any questions you have about paint finishes!
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