Understanding Paint Sheens

Paint metal bucket, tin cans with red, blue, pink and green ink in front and top view.

Need help me deciphering all the different paint sheens for interior walls? It can be confusing. To make matters worse, the sheens can vary from one manufacturer to another. For example Benjamin Moore has six interior sheens – flat/matte, eggshell, pearl, satin, semi-gloss, and high gloss, while California Paints has separate flat and matte and also a velvet flat finish.

Let’s concentrate on the four basics: flat, eggshell, semi-gloss, and gloss.

Flat is least reflective and therefore a good choice for walls with slight blemishes; use on ceiling or low-traffic areas like living and dining rooms, or an adult bedroom.

Eggshell, easier to clean and more durable, creates a soft polished, subtle shine and is a great choice for low- and medium-traffic areas including a hallway, child’s room, or family room.

Semi-gloss and satin have similar properties; they offer a shiny, smooth finish and are scrubbable and stain-resistant. This sheen is more versatile for all rooms including high-traffic and high humidity rooms like kitchens, laundry rooms, and bathrooms. Semi-gloss is also a perfect choice for interior trim.

Finally, a gloss finish provides extreme durability and washability and provides a noticeably shinier luster.  Choose gloss when painting doors and trim, cabinets, and floors.

A few final words … First, always rely on the advice of a professional. Paint store owners can suggest not only the right sheen, but the proper brushes and rollers for each project as well.  Second, don’t underestimate the need for a primer or, nowadays, for only $3-4 more per quart, a paint and primer in one. Third, if you find a color offered by one manufacturer but prefer another brand, most paint stores have all the formulas in their computers. Finally, buy the most expense paint you can afford; you’ll never be disappointed. Some paints simply have more hue (or color) in them. If you go for a bargain brand, you’ll end up spending more time on more coats that might not last as long as a major brand.

With many satisfied clients since 2008, Barbara Graceffa owns and operates Secretary of the Interior in Quincy, MA offering creative decorating services at reasonable rates. If you have a blog topic to suggest or need professional help with decorating, downsizing, decluttering, or home staging and relocation services, please contact her via her website www.sec-interior.com or phone 617.921.6033.

By Barbara Graceffa

Barbara Graceffa, CEO of Secretary of the Interior, serves decorating clients; assists with professional organizing, home staging and moving assistance; teaches on these subjects; and delivers quilt lectures and trunk shows.

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