Most homeowners know when it’s time to refresh their interior paint. However, having the ability to confidently or even accurately communicate their vision is often times challenging. The worst case scenario of course is having a customer end up with a final product that is far from what their imagination had previously dictated. Fortunately, this is very rarely the case because of the detailed questions we ask prior to accepting any painting job. Ultimately, I have noticed that people tend to be more excited and involved about talking to us when they know a few small facts about interior paints, finishes and room considerations.
1. Flat or Matte Finish
Matte finish is commonly referred to as flat finish. It’s useful for interior surfaces that need to blend small wall bumps, cracks, or other imperfections because this finish does not reflect light. It’s helpful to keep some on hand after painting in case there is a need to touch up scratches or marks by covering with a bit more paint. Flat finishes also give a depth and elegance that other sheens do not, however they are not washable.
2. Lowsheen or Eggshell Finish
While nearly everyone is able to identify characteristics of this type of paint, its function is the most important reason for its popularity. Eggshell finishes possess a hint of shine or gloss. Generally they are good for walls and hold up better through cleaning than flat finish paints. This is the ideal finish for those not wanting a lot of shine, but still want some washability.
3. Satin Finish
Satin finish paint has a smooth, velvety look with a bit more gloss. It is the most common finish for walls. It is also used for windows, doors, and trim. Paint with a satin finish is formulated to hold up to cleaning and light scrubbing.
Semi-gloss paint is most often used on doors, trim or cabinets in kitchens and bathrooms. The paint is easy to clean and has a subtle shine.
High gloss paints have an almost reflective quality due to a shiny finish that mimics the look of enamel or plastic. Although it is not widely used in home interiors, the paint is becoming more popular for a dramatic look on cabinets, trim, and furniture in very formal and contemporary settings. It’s important to recognize that this finish will magnify any surface imperfections. This makes careful preparation and sanding essential before painting with high gloss paints.
There are some particular application specifics that you should consider when selecting an interior paint finish.
Quick general rule: The more shine on the paint finish, and the more you spend on paint, the better it will stand up to washing and cleaning. We recommend Duration Home satin from Sherwin Williams for walls and ProClassic satin or semi-gloss oil base paint from Sherwin Williams for trim and doors.
7. Kid-Friendly Finishes
Going along with durability and cleaning, most painters recommend eggshell or satin paint on the walls and semi-gloss for doors and moldings in play rooms. These finishes are formulated to better withstand repeated (often mandatory) cleanings. Low or 0 VOC paints are also available.
8. Rustic Looks
Flat finish paints on walls or furniture help promote rustic or otherwise aesthetically appealing worn look.
9. High Gloss Looks
Rather than choosing a high-gloss paint for a whole room, most choose to use it sparingly in select locations such as doors and trim. An excessive amount of shining surfaces can create a cold or uninviting appearance.
10. Ceiling Paint
Pre-mixed, matte finish paints are common choices for those looking for plain white ceiling solutions. While cleaning is not usually a particularly important consideration, some ceiling paints use cheaper formulations. Homeowners seeking an exact color match often choose regular tinted flat wall paint.
11. Alternative Ceiling Finishes
While most color scheme ceilings use flat finish paint, there are additional options. If the surface of the ceiling is flawless, then an eggshell finish is a nice looking option. These glossier finishes promote good light reflection, but unfortunately they can also magnify imperfections.
12. Kitchens and Baths
Any room that is exposed to water or steam should be coated with a semi-gloss paint. This is most imperative for bathrooms that are used the most frequently. Half-bathrooms or those with less-frequent use can be painted with lower-gloss paints with satin or eggshell finishes.