If you’ve ever been to the paint section at your local hardware store. You know choosing the right color is only half the battle. Once you’ve found the perfect color for every room you’ll find that there are a variety of finishes. Eventually you’ll be asking yourself the question, what paint sheen to use? This is just as important as the color you’ve chosen. You’ll have to answer this question for every room in the house. The trim, doors, ceilings, walls and any wood in the house all need to have a finish. And they generally aren’t all the same. In this article we’ll discuss what works best in every situation.
Gambrick is a custom home builder at the Jersey Shore with over 40 years experience building high end luxury custom homes. We ask ourselves and our clients this same question for every home we do. Based on our decades of experience we’ll be going over the best options for each room in the house.
- The paint sheen, or finish, affects how the color appears. That depends on whether it absorbs light or reflects it. For paint to hold up well over time it has to be durable enough for the surface and the situation. In other words sheen is how shiny the paint is. Ranging from a high gloss which is very shiny to a flat which has no shine at all. In between are eggshell, satin, and semi-gloss, each with its own practical and decorative job to do.
- As a basic rule of thumb to follow when choosing your paint sheen. The higher the sheen, the higher the shine. The higher the shine, the more durable it is.
- Get the walls as smooth as possible. Scrape away cracked or peeling paint with a metal putty knife. And use it to remove bumps, dried-on paint, and the raised edges around nail holes. One of the biggest mistakes amateur painters make is not spending enough time prepping the walls or trim. Take your time filling and sanding any imperfections before you paint or you’ll regret it later.
- Buy quality paints. It really does make a huge difference in the final product.
- If your painting yourself buy quality brushes and rollers. Cheap rollers leave weird looking marks on the walls and low quality brushes leave streaks and hairs which can be a nightmare to take out as you paint. If you want the best outcome then use the best tools and paint.
- For every room your painting ask yourself what color and what paint sheen to use? Refer to this guide for the sheen and this one for the color.
What Paint Sheen To Use?
Keep Things Simple with Flat
Ever look up at your ceiling and realize it may be time for a change? For places like your ceiling and other low traffic areas, flat is your perfect sheen. Flat paint absorbs light and hides small imperfections. This provides a simple yet smooth appearance. A busy or glossy ceiling draws unwanted attention away from the furniture and other highlights of the room.
While a flat finish is great at smoothing and muting it is most suitable for low traffic areas of your home. A flat sheen doesn’t clean as easily as some of the others and should be used sparingly on places out of reach. Generally a flat finish is only used on the ceiling and is has become the standard for just about every home we build.
Flat paint has the most pigment and provides the most coverage per gallon. Translating to time and money saved.
Flat paint finish is great for:
- Low traffic areas
Eggshell Adds Some Texture
What paint sheen to use? Sometimes we want a room to have a bit of extra texture. That’s where eggshell really shines. Eggshell finishes can add texture to a room by adding a low luster sheen similar to the surface of an egg, hence the name. Offering a superior finish to a flat sheen for highly trafficked areas. An eggshell finish softly reflects light throughout the room while resisting small scuffs or stains. An eggshell finish also proves to be more practical for most areas of the home while also providing a durable, long-lasting color.
Between satin and flat on the sheen and durability scale. Essentially a flat no-shine finish with only a small amount of luster. Eggshell covers wall imperfections well and is a great finish for gathering spaces that won’t get a lot of wear and tear.
Eggshell Paint finish is great for:
- Family Rooms
- Dining Room
Satin Sheen For High Traffic Areas
Though similar to an eggshell finish in terms of luster, satin finishes exude an almost pearlescent touch that can give a room a lovely soft glow. This finish is more durable than both eggshell and flat. Resisting dirt and stains while also withstanding cleaning and gentle scrubbing. A Satin finish is a perfect fit for high-traffic areas.
Revealing application flaws is a satin sheen’s biggest drawback. Roller or brush strokes not done properly will stand out so make sure to hire a good painter or take your time if doing it yourself and use a good quality brush or roller. Touch ups later can be tricky unless you redo large areas which can get expensive.
Satin paint finish is great for:
- Laundry Rooms
What Paint Sheen To Use? Semi-Gloss Makes Accents Sparkle
You want your accent pieces to stand out becoming the focal point of any room, drawing the eye where we want them to go. Semi gloss should be used sparingly on things like trim, doors, wainscoting or on a beautiful coffered ceiling.
Semi gloss paints are a great way to make accent walls or focal points sparkle by providing a higher sheen which immediately draws the eye. A semi gloss finish works best in areas that receive a lot of light which amplifies their shine. As a drawback semi gloss also tends to amplify imperfections, revealing heavy brush strokes, drips or nail heads.
Semi-gloss paints tend to be highly durable and resistant to mold and mildew. Best suited for high traffic areas that are frequently cleaned.
Semi-gloss paint finish is great for:
- Kids Rooms
- Doors & Windows
- Coffered Ceilings
Shine Up Accent Pieces with Gloss
Glossy paint offers the highest sheen finish creating a greater depth of color bringing out rich tones and deep hues. Gloss finish amplifies the color of any paint or texture. Making colors and textures pop like no other paint finish can. This brilliant finish attracts a lot of attention so should be used with caution. It’s not a good idea to paint an entire room with high gloss paint. Use this finish very sparingly for small accent pieces only.
A high gloss finish is great for some wood furniture or small decor pieces. Be sure to use high gloss paint in low traffic areas as this level of shine amplifies blemishes more than any other finish. The easiest to clean of all paint finishes.
As a general rule we steer our clients away from high gloss paints but if you want to use them do it sparingly.
Gloss finish paint is great for:
- Trim work
- Accent pieces
Use your newfound knowledge from this guide to make your home magazine ready and answer that inevitable question when painting, what paint sheen to use? Remember to spend lots of time prepping before you paint if you want a beautiful finish. Take your time selecting not only the perfect color but also the right sheen and you’ll have a home to enjoy for years to come.
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