The hardest part of choosing new paint may be deciding on the color. What fits the room? What won’t be too dark? What will match the couches? Once you’ve narrowed down your hue, you’ve still got one more step. Paint can completely change the appearance of a space, and a lot of that comes down to a paint’s finish. There are five primary paint finishes available, and each one adds something different to how paint looks on the wall.
Sheen—The Measure of a Finish
The different paint finishes are defined by their sheen, just how much light is reflected off the paint. In a word, the higher a finish’s sheen, the shinier the paint, but that’s not the whole story. Because sheen is controlled by the amount of pigments and additives in any given batch of paint, sheen is also directly related to a paint’s durability. The higher a paint’s sheen, the tougher the paint.
While there are five types of paint finishes, the sheen value of each is not standardized across the spectrum of paint manufacturers. A Sherwin-Williams satin finish may be more or less glossy than the same finish from Benjamin Moore. This is one of the reasons why it is so important to test the paint you choose in segments before adding it to an entire surface.
Another reason is because a paint’s finish will alter how its color is reflected back into the room (and, more importantly, into your eyes). Remember that higher sheen means greater reflection, so a flat white paint will never look quite as bright as one with a glossy finish.
The 5 Paint Finishes
It goes without saying, but the finish must be chosen before the paint goes on the wall. With so many paint finishes to choose from, it is nice to know their pros and cons before pulling out the paint brush. Be mindful that some manufacturers use different names to describe the same kind of finish.
Flat finishes have a low, almost negligible sheen, and they can be almost chalky in appearance depending on the brand. Also referred to as matte, flat finishes are good at hiding imperfections on the wall because they reflect relatively little light. This is why flat paint finishes are often used on walls, because they can mask imperfections in the drywall.
Unfortunately, the lower the sheen, the less impressive the durability. Flat finishes make wear apparent, so surfaces that experience a lot of contact are not a good fit. Attempts to clean off wall marks have a tendency to make the paint job appear smudgy, so instead of using a sponge to remove marks, you’ll have to repaint the entire wall to maintain a pristine appearance. Especially if you have small children or excitable pets, flat paint is probably not a good fit for highly trafficked areas of your home.
Eggshell is a satin finish that is closer to the flat end of the spectrum. In fact, some manufactures do not offer eggshell finishes, pulling them under the satin umbrella. Eggshell finishes are known for their velvety and soft appearance, making them a fan favorite. They’re not especially tough, but they are step up from matte. They are a good option for bedrooms, family rooms, hallways, and entryways.
Satin is the middle-ground of paint finishes. It fairs relatively well in the durability department without excessive shine. It reflects a fair amount of light, also reflecting a fair amount of the painted surface’s topography. Satin finishes have a sheen that is almost pearly, lending a sense of elegance and class.
Semi-gloss really moves into the realm of durable paints with evidently reflective sheens. This makes them great for holding up against frequent contact, and unlike flat finishes, they are easy to wipe off when they need to be cleaned.
For that reason, semi-gloss finishes are good for kitchens and bathrooms and trims. Many elect to use them on ceiling paint because they don’t need to be as hardy but they will hide things like airborne grease and smoke residue.
Glossy paints have the highest sheen and toughest finish available on the market. They are also easy to wipe off when you clean your surfaces. This makes glossy finishes a good choice for areas that have a lot of contact: cabinets and vanities, kitchens, bathrooms, doors, and trim. Gloss also accentuates any woodwork.
Glossy paint finishes can be difficult to pull off because they show every slight imperfection, meaning any dents or ridges in the surface will be plainly visible. If not applied perfectly, each brushstroke shows through. Professional painting services can eliminate this problem. If you need help choosing the right finish for your painting project or are looking for professional painting services, give Brush Brothers a call.