Paint Finishes

Picture this.  You are at the paint store and you have picked out the colour you want to get some painting done.  Next thing you know the assistant in the paint department asks you if you picked out the right sheen for where you are using that paint can.

Why Do You Need To Choose What Paint Finish To Use

It can be fun to choose paint colours, it is the easiest part of the whole painting project.  But would you know which paint finish or a.k.a. paint sheen to choose from if you were doing your own DIY Painting.

You need to know which type of paint sheen you want because it has to do with how much shine or gloss you want reflecting from your freshly painted walls.

Here are a few tips to help with choosing the right paint finishes.

What Is the Meaning Of Paint Finish

In the world of paint the meaning of paint finish is how shiny or glossy the paint reflects light on the walls.  Paint Sheen is just another term used for finish but means exactly the same.

If you want to get technical there is a perfect article with explanation on wikipedia all about paint sheen and finish.


What Are The Different Paint Finishes

There are several different types of paint sheens and finishes, some that reflect more light and others that reflect none at all.  Here are a few of the most commonly used ones for home painting.

Flat Paint Finish

Flat or Matte paint finish is a great concealer.  It is best at hiding imperfections on the ceiling and drywall, of which repairs should be done before painting.

Because it conceals most flaws it is typically used to paint ceilings so as to not reflect too much light.  It is also best used on the walls that require less frequent washing.

Painting the walls in a bedroom with a flat or matte paint finish is desirable as it needs little prep work and needs low maintenance. Because bedrooms and closet spaces are little to no traffic spots and require less frequent washing of the walls  a flat or matte finish will do the trick.  Because it reflects very little to no light and is the perfect concealer of most flaws it also works great for walls in older homes with older types of gyproc/drywall.

Flat finishes are easy to touch up but hard to clean so avoid using them in kitchens and bathrooms.

It is also worth noting that when buying paint choosing a flat finish will usually mean a lower cost per gallon of paint.

Eggshell Paint Finish

Very popular and chosen most often for house painting is the eggshell paint finish.  Also similar to the eggshell is a Satin Paint Finish.

It looks almost like a velvet smooth finish when the light reflects off the walls, making it a popular paint finish due it’s not too shiny and not completely flat appearance.

It is easy maintenance with eggshell painted walls.  A simple wiping up of most fingerprints or dirt with just a damp cloth does it for this paint finish.  It hides imperfections well enough but marks up easily in higher trafficked areas of a home.

Eggshell Finishes are best used in the everyday spaces of the home like living rooms and dining rooms and also in bedrooms.  It is not recommended to use in kitchens, laundry rooms or main hallway entrances where it is the most trafficked.

It is easy to touch up with paint if a scuff mark or scratch happens and is the easiest finish to paint over if you change your mind about the colour.

Semi-Gloss Paint Finish

Is a durable and easily washable finish.  It is resistant to humidity making it ideal for painting kitchens and bathrooms, just make sure to ask for the mildew resistant formula for those high moisture areas.

With a slight visible shine it is ideal for trim, baseboards, molding, and doors.  It is also good for woodwork or cabinetry.

Semi-gloss finish is easy to clean and is very durable making it easy to clean frequently.  It can also handle any soap as well as added scrubbing without damaging the paint.

It is important to note that semi gloss finish will reflect light and may make a paint colour look darker.  It will also require more prep work before you begin painting as it will show any and all imperfections to drywall and ceilings and there fore it is important to ensure you get all the repairs to drywall, nail holes filled and make sure all surfaces are completely sanded and dry before painting with a semi gloss finish.

Gloss Paint Finish 

Just as the name implies, gloss paint finishes will give you the highest level of shine, sometimes referred to in the painting business as a specialty paint finish.  It sometimes has a mirror like effect and look due to the high shine.

Gloss paint is of the highest in durability factor.  It can take on more dirt and grime than any of the other paint finishes.  It can even withstand a little elbow grease when scrubbing to remove the dirt afterwards.

It is the strongest finish but also the shiniest and will also show every imperfection, therefore not making it the greatest choice for painting walls or ceilings.

A high gloss paint finish is best used for trim, baseboards, doors and other architectural elements like crown molding and wainscotting.


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This article was updated August 27th, 2019 @ 19:30 pm