A Guide to Paint Finishes and Surfaces
There are many aspects of painting that people usually overlook because of the fact that choosing colors is seen as the most important. However, the type and finish of the paint you use greatly impacts your painting project. Choosing the correct finish can affect how the project looks and how durable the paint will be on the home. The correct type of paint will ensure that your paint sticks on top of any old paint and also will impact how difficult it is to clean.
The finish of the paint refers to its level of shine. While shine may seem as a straightforward aesthetic preference, it also can greatly impact the result of your project, particularly when it comes to ease of cleaning. Usually, a higher sheen indicates that the paint is easier to clean and maintain. When choosing a paint sheen, it’s important to consider both the desired aesthetic and the functional aspects, keeping in mind the specific needs of the surface you’re painting.
Before delving into paint sheen, it’s essential to determine whether you will be using water-based or oil-based paint. The difference between these types lies in their characteristics and performance. Oil-based paints are known for their strength and durability. However, it’s important to note their drawbacks. Oil-based paints can be more challenging to work with, often leading to messes and difficulties in cleaning up. Also, once you’ve applied oil-based paint to a surface, it is generally recommended to stick with it in the future. Ultimately, we typically recommend using water-based latex or acrylic paints due to their ease of use and clean-up. These paints are versatile and suitable for most surfaces, unless the surface was previously painted with oil-based paint. By considering these factors, you can make an informed decision on the type of paint that best suits your needs.
Next, consider how many coats of paint you will need and whether you will need a primer. Many paints offer multiple functions and are self-priming. However, if you are doing a dramatic color change or want to cover up water damage, using a primer, tinted or untinted, under your paint can be worth it.
You want to decide whether you will use indoor or outdoor paint. Technically, you can use either type of paint on a project. However, outdoor paint is more durable than indoor paint. It is also more expensive. So, we recommend indoor paint for indoor projects and outdoor paint for outdoor projects.
Now that those factors are out of the way, it is time to consider the finish or sheen of the paint. Flat paint provides a matte, flat finish. They are great at hiding imperfections because they do not reflect light. However, they could be more durable. They cannot stand up to scrubbing and cleaning. They also do not do well in high-traffic areas because they are vulnerable to scruffs and scratches. Flat paint is a good choice for ceilings and low-traffic areas. Satin paint is more reflective than flat paint, but it is not a gloss. Different paint manufacturers have different amounts of shine in their satins.
Many also offer a step between flat and satin, known as eggshell. We love an eggshell or satin for most surfaces because they stand up to scrubbing, resist scuffing, and have a light sheen that is not too reflective. Semi-gloss paints have a nice sheen to them and stand up to frequent cleaning. You may see it in kitchen cabinetry or bathrooms. However, it is reflective enough to highlight imperfections, so you may need more prep work to make a semi-gloss paint look great. Finally, you have a glossy finish. Glossy finishes are fabulous on fresh trim and projects you want to highlight, like furniture. However, the gloss means you see every imperfection.