When getting ready for a project, there are many details that a customer has to think about. Paint color is the most obvious, with decisions for walls, trim, doors and more in every room. But paint is more than color. Paint sheen always plays a critical role in how the final finish looks, and often gets overlooked. So how do you choose the right paint sheen for each part of your house?

House Painting IdeasGo Flat For A Softer Look

A flat paint sheen (also called “matte”) tends to scatter light. They are a great choice when you are going for a softer look in your home. This is an especially good quality to have with your ceiling. Nearly all standard ceiling paints such as Behr Ceiling and Sherwin-Williams Eminence come in a flat finish.

Many modern designs incorporate flat finishes. The same soft effect that flat finishes impart on ceilings also works on walls. It is an especially popular choice for rooms such as bedrooms and offices. We already know that color can affect mood, but the effect can also be enhanced with the paint sheen as well. Greens, grays, blues and reds all have a different character when painted with a flat finish.

Gloss And Semi Gloss For Durability

Flat finishes look great and can soften a room, but they are not the right choice for every location. Areas that see heavy traffic or damp conditions will benefit from having a glossier finish. Glossy finishes naturally have a harder, more durable layer than their flat counterparts. Because of this, they are better at repelling water and dirt. Likewise, they can often be easily cleaned with a damp rag.

High-gloss and semi-gloss finishes are the most popular choice for trim, baseboards, door casings, doors, any windowsills. Any areas that collect dirt and need to be cleaned regularly are good candidates for a glossier paint sheen. Doors and door casings especially tend to get covered with hand-prints (if you have kids, you REALLY know what we mean). These locations are NOT good candidates for flat finishes.

Make Your Cabinets Shine

Unless you are going for an effect, your kitchen or bath cabinets are another place where we recommend sticking with a gloss or semi-gloss finish. Washability and durability will be VERY important here, and flatter paints just aren’t a good choice. Gloss and semi-gloss paints also tend to dry with a smoother finish, especially when sprayed. This makes them ideal for cabinets of all types.

Eggshell + Satin: Somewhere In The Middle

Some paint companies call it eggshell, others call it satin. Some have BOTH choices, though the differences are slight. When looking for a paint sheen that gives you the best of both worlds, eggshell/satin is the right choice. This will give you a smooth, soft finish with a hint of gloss. This makes it a great choice for bedrooms, living rooms, and hallways. It is also the minimum finish we recommend for bathrooms and other damp rooms, and is the most popular paint sheen that we use on walls.

Best paint finishes - oil or latex paintOil-Based Paints For High Gloss Finishes?

We have talked before about when to use oil-based and latex paints. That advice generally mirrors the advice on paint sheen. Many of the same places that benefit from a semi-gloss or high-gloss finish may also benefit from oil-based paints.  Since it can be easily cleaned, it is an excellent choice for trim and doors and other spots that see heavy use. However, there are now very high-quality latex alternatives that provide similar results in those locations. While these paints are excellent products, we still prefer using oil-based paints for cabinets.

Though it dries much slower than latex paint, oil-based paint cures more quickly and provides a harder, more durable finish. Latex paints can sometimes take up to 30 days to cure completely. Because of this, items that are set on surfaces painted with latex can stick and peel away the paint. Latex also tends to stick to itself, especially in areas like cabinet doors. For the smoothest and most durable finish for kitchen and bath cabinets, stick with the oil-based products. In our opinion it is still the best interior paint for certain jobs.

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