What finish paint should I use?

Paint Finish Brooklyn, Manhattan, New Jersey

I always get asked this question. Here is my chance to answer it. A lot of that has to do with personal preference, but there are some rules, and pros and cons to choosing the finish of your paint. As many of you already know paint comes in typically as many as 5, or even 7 different finishes! Although with the introduction of many so called “green paints” your choice will actually be limited to usually about 3 of the main type of finishes. Those being Matte, Eggshell and Semi-Gloss.

The basic finishes will vary drastically from one paint manufacture to another. So one brand’s Eggshell will look like another brand’s Satin. And to make matters worse these finish levels will even vary from inside a particular brands different lines of paint. So as a paint maker has one line for commercial and another for residential the two eggshells but the same color will not match.

All paints come in both a color that you choose, and a particular finish that you choose as well. Did you know that a finish can actually change the look of your color? For instance the color “Rose Red” will look different in different finishes. Before I get ahead of myself let me answer the question, what is a finish? A finish is the name given to the degree of shine, or gloss level a paint has, as in a High-Gloss, or does not have, as in Flat. So as we go up in shine from Flat to High-Gloss you have many different names for these, Eggshell, (gets its name because it looks like the outside of an eggshell) Satin, (looks like the material “Satin”), Pearl…..you get the idea, So how do you choose, and what are the advantages or disadvantages of each?

In the old days everything was painted more or less in a gloss type of paint for interior rooms, it lasted forever and wore like nails. It still does. The shinier a paint is, the harder it is, the more resin it has, and the less fillers, thus the paint film is stronger and more impervious to stains, scuffs etc. So if you want maximum durability you will choose the shiniest paint possible. The only down side to that is very shiny (High Gloss) or even slightly shiny paint (Semi-Gloss) does not always look so good on the large surface of the walls or ceilings. It can also amplify imperfections in the ceilings and walls. This is why almost always, Flat is the preferred choice for ceilings. Flat can also be recommended for its ability to touch-up a section in the middle of a wall or ceilings. Of course this will always depend on the manufactures quality of paint but it is usually assumed flat makes for a good choice when you need to go back in and repaint small areas that need some coverage due to marks or scuffs, which flat is famous for collecting due to its chalky nature.

So now we know that flat is good at hiding imperfections, absorbs the light in a room and that gloss paint reflects light and is very durable. How do you choose which one is right for you? That depends on the use each room or part of the room gets. Typically ceilings will get painted flat walls will get painted flat or eggshell and in some cases semi-gloss or even high-gloss. Trim or molding woodwork, almost always get painted in at least a Satin or Semi-gloss although it all depends on the individual preference. Again think about the durability and the wear and tear those items are subjected to. All of these choices should be determined with the aim of getting the longest lasting, and most beautiful look you are able to obtain. Fortunately with water based paints these choices are getting easier. These are just some guidelines in choosing the finish that is perfect for you.

Flat, Matte, Eggshell, Pearl, Satin, Semi-Gloss, High-Gloss.

With the advent of high performing paints also called Waterbourne paints all of these choices about finishes are less critical in the performance aspect, as they have gotten so efficient at water resistance, scuff and scratch resistance and durability that a high performance flat can almost achieve suitable use where you would have used a satin or semi-gloss in the past!