Selecting Interior Paint Finishes

Deciding which of the interior paint finishes you want to use is as important as deciding on what color you want to paint your walls.

There are different types of interior paint finishes. They have different sheens that range from flat to high gloss.

  • Flat/Matte: A flat/matte paint finish has no shine and does not reflect light, so it reduces light glare. It is an excellent choice if you want to hide any bumps, cracks or other imperfections on your walls like you find in older homes.The drawback to the flat/matte finish is it is not washable so make sure you keep whatever paint you have leftover for touchups.It is generally used on interior walls such as bedrooms, dining rooms and theater rooms. It is also used on ceilings.
  • Flat Enamel: The flat enamel finish is more durable than the regular flat/ matte finish. This is because it can stand the occasional washing. It does not need retouching as often as regular flat paint does.It is a good choice for bathrooms, halls or any high traffic area.
  • Eggshell: The eggshell finish has a very low sheen or gloss. It actually looks like the finish of an eggshell. Like the flat/matte finish, this paint helps to hide wall imperfections, while still being washable.So, it is very popular for kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms, mud rooms and trim.
  • Satin:The satin finish has a velvety and smooth look to it and it has a bit more gloss. It does reflect some light.Satin is commonly used when painting windows, doors, trim or ceilings. But, it can also be used as wall paint. What is nice is the satin finish paint is formulated to hold up to cleaning and light scrubbing.The drawback is that it is not a good idea to use on walls that have imperfections because the imperfections will show.

    It is a good choice for children’s rooms, kitchen, laundry rooms and bathrooms or in areas which get a lot of traffic.

    This finish has a low luster appearance, it is washable and reflects some light.

  • Semi-Gloss: Semi-gloss paint has a subtle shine. It is seldom used on walls because it reflects the light and can put off too much of a glare. It is used most often on doors, trim, woodwork and cabinets in kitchens and bathrooms. We use it on all our woodwork and doors in the interior of our home. This finish can be washed often.Since it has a notable shine to it, make sure you prepare the surfaces you paint by filling holes and sanding before painting so there are no imperfections showing. Remember the more shine, the more the imperfections show.
  • High Gloss: High gloss interior paint finishes have a reflective quality to them. They are not widely used in home interiors. They are, however, becoming more popular because people are looking for a more dramatic look on cabinets, trim and furniture.Remember that this finish will magnify any imperfection. So, prepare the surface you are going to paint thoroughly. And above all, make sure you sand before painting.

Take the time to carefully select the appropriate type of interior paint you want. This is one of the most important steps in planning a painting project.

Selecting the color and finish you are going to put on the wall depends on:

    • The condition of the surface of the wall being painted;
    • The location of the room or how much light goes into the room; and
    • Of course, your personal preference.

Remember when choosing interior paint finishes the shinier the paint, the more you can wash it and the more imperfections show. It all comes down to your preference.

Dave Altman

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