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What Paint Sheen is Right For You?

April 1, 2013 1 Comment

What do you know about paint sheen?

Most of my customers are a bit puzzled when I ask what finish they’d like applied to their walls. Flat, matte, eggshell, semi-gloss, gloss, satin, and low luster are all terms many homeowners have no understanding of. It’s hard enough to pick colors for your home, let alone determine the finish of those colors. I’m here to give you all the information you’ll need to make your decision today. I’ll tell you what your options are, and where they perform best.

Let’s start with flat finish paint. You’ve seen this paint sheen many times, just take a look up above your head at that bright white ceiling. Flat finish paint is almost always applied to ceilings in commercial and residential buildings, an exception being areas that experience a high level of moisture such as a bathroom with a shower and sometimes a kitchen. Flat paint is the magician of the coatings industry. Imperfections on old walls are easily hidden away by two coats of flat paint. This makes flat paint an excellent go to for rental properties and houses going on the market. Flat paint also carries the lowest price tag out of all the finishes. Surface marring and the coatings inability to be heavily cleaned after curing are the only drawbacks to using flat finish paint. This sheen performs best on ceilings and walls in room with low moisture levels, and in exterior applications on various types of properly primed wooden siding and stucco.

Next we have eggshell finish paint. Eggshell is a term most often confused with a paint color. I’ve had many homeowners correct me when I suggest using an eggshell finish in their home, and say “Oh no I was thinking a light tan. Not eggshell!” Eggshell sheen has a little bit of shine to it, because of this prep work is more extensive than if you were using flat finish paint. Imperfections are amplified as light reflects brightly off of eggshell finish paint. If you have young children this is the sheen for you! I have seen flat finish paint jobs get destroyed within a year from the normal wear and tear of little kids. Handprints, juice and food stains, and the infamous crayon drawings on the walls are all attacks eggshell finish paint will stand up to much longer than flat sheen paints. Drawbacks for this finish include the higher level of prep work witch results in a more expensive paint job, and often when using a deep color eggshell finish will take on the look of semi-gloss creating a obnoxious glares from sunlight.

Now I’ll tell you about my favorite paint sheen, matte finish paint!

This particular sheen is a real people pleaser. It caters to the homeowner that needs a coating that can withstand being scrubbed clean, and still offers the hiding power and attractive look of flat finish paint. Matte finish paints can even be applied in bathrooms and shower areas and resist mold and mildew. I’d recommend this sheen to just about anyone. It’s that bowl of porridge that is just right. There is only one miniscule drawback, generally this sheen is only offered in more expensive lines of paint. Hardly a con if you ask me.

I’m going to cover gloss, semi-gloss, and satin sheen paints at the same time. These sheens all get consistently applied to trim and doors in a home or commercial building, the exception being semi-gloss that is applied to walls and ceilings in kitchen and shower areas of residential homes. These three are highly reflective paint sheens. You want your expensive decorative woodwork to standout! These sheens also offer the highest level of protection, an excellent choice for railings and doors that see daily use. If a long lasting finish is what your looking for consider using an oil based paint. Oil based paints cure much harder than latex paints and therefore withstand much more abuse. Satin sheen is most often offered as an exterior finish, and can sometimes be applied to the body of the house. It’s used inside sometimes too. Duration, a paint line by Sherwin Williams, offers a satin finish in place of eggshell. These three finish paints also carry a hefty price tag when compared to flat sheen paints, so only applying them to trim and doors is quite beneficial to your wallet.

Lastly we have the lesser used sheens low luster and luster lite. These sheens require a high level of wall preparation, as they are much more reflective than eggshell finish paint. They are most often used in commercial applications, but perform well in residential bathrooms and kitchens as well. Generally it makes more sense to use eggshell finish paints in a residential setting, but homeowners are not limited to it.

Now you can make an informed decision on what paint sheen is right for your home. Maybe you’re putting your home on the market and flat finish is going help you sell quickly. Flat finish is also a great money saving solution when previous tenants bang up the walls on your rental property. If you have a growing family eggshell finish paint can help protect the walls of your biggest investment in life. If you can’t make up you’re mind between eggshell or flat, rest easy knowing matte finish will cover all the bases. Protect your trim and doors with a high sheen like semi-gloss, and consider using an oil based product to extend the life of the finish. If you still need guidance remember I am just a phone call away and can assist you in choosing the colors and sheens that will help beautify and protect your home.

Now think about Color!

About the Author:

Sean has extensive knowledge of today’s coating technologies and strives to provide the best customer service possible. Building a long, lasting, business relationship built around trust, honesty, and impeccable craftsmanship is what we believe will keep us in business for years to come.

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