Understanding Paint Finishes
Choosing a paint color can be a tough decision, but deciding on a finish for your room can be hard too. Paint finishes generally come in four categories: flat, matte, eggshell and semi-gloss.
Flat paint is the most forgiving finish with the best color payout. If you need to cover imperfections, patching or joints, flat paint can absorb light, making your dings and flaws less noticeable.
Note that this kind of paint finish has no sheen to it. The drawback to a flat finish is the lack of durability. Flat paint needs to be cleaned carefully, as scrubbing may remove some of the paint. This can cause an uneven or patchy look on the wall. The most common area of a room that you’ll find a flat finish is the ceiling.
Matte paint is similar to a flat finish, except it’s much more durable and washable. Matte will also cover imperfections and other problem areas in your home. It also allows for easy touchups. Matte tends to be the most common finish for walls in all living spaces.
EGGSHELL or SATIN FINISHES
Eggshell paints have a soft sheen to them, just like an eggshell. This finish will work well on walls that have a tendency to get dirty frequently and have a medium to high durability. It is not recommended for use on trim, around windows and doors, etc. You can wash down eggshell walls without harming the finish and most eggshell finishes are resistant to mildew and stains. The most common area you will find an eggshell finish is high traffic areas, like a kids’ playroom, laundry room, bathrooms, mud rooms and entry ways. It does tend to show imperfections a bit more than a matte or flat finish due to the higher gloss to it.
SEMI-GLOSS or GLOSS FINISHES
Semi-gloss has a much higher sheen than any other finish. It is known to reflect light without being too shiny. It holds up well in a humid environment and is the easiest to clean. Due to its high durability, semi-gloss is most commonly found on wood trim, kitchen cabinets and doors.
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