When it comes time to purchase paint, it can seem an overwhelming task because of the different paint finishes that are available. Satin vs. matte, semi-gloss, or flat? How do you know which finish is the more appropriate choice for your project? Paint sheen, or finish, refers to the amount of light the paint reflects from its surface. Paints with no sheen absorb lights and paints with sheen reflect it. Before choosing a paint finish, be sure to consider the type of room you are painting and the durability needed for that space.
Paint finishes can be divided into two main groups: Flat or matte finish paint vs. semi-gloss and high gloss paints. Flat or matte paints have no sheen because they absorb light. Glossy finishes reflect light and give off a shiny, and also protective sheen. So, let’s do an overview of all the most popular paint finishes to help you know what sheen will work best for you.
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Matte vs. Flat Paint
Matte and flat paint finishes are the same things. They show little to no sheen when dry. Because they are non-reflective, they are superior when it comes to hiding surface blemishes. If you have nail holes or minor dents you want to conceal, choose a flat paint finish. Matte paints require fewer coats than higher gloss paints and are perfect for areas that require less durability such as dining rooms, bedrooms, and ceilings. Flat paints tend to hold onto dirt and are difficult to clean. Cleaning can actually remove the finish. Avoid using it in kitchens, bathrooms, playrooms, or kids’ rooms.
Eggshell Paint Finish
When in doubt, eggshell is usually a safe way to go. It fits somewhere between matte and satin when it comes to its finish and reflects more light than matte paint. Extremely popular among homeowners, it’s perfect for your low traffic areas like family rooms, dining rooms, hallways, and entryways. Eggshell provides a low sheen and a smooth texture, just like a real eggshell.
What is a Satin Finish Paint?
Satin paint is often known as the most versatile paint for indoor and outdoor walls. It lends a soft, elegant sheen that reflects just the right amount of light. It’s durable enough to withstand mildew while also being more fade-resistant and easier to clean than its more flat counterparts. The difference between matte and satin is that matte offers a more natural appearance with less luster and sheen.
Semi-gloss paint is more resistant to moisture than other finishes and has a bit more sheen than satin. Semi-gloss is an excellent choice for kitchens, bathrooms, and trim pieces. Its delicate sheen creates a bold and pleasing contrast against a more flat finish. Semi-gloss is easy to keep clean and wipes down more effortlessly than matte paints. While easier to clean, its sheen level makes blemishes and wall imperfections more visible.
High Gloss Paint
High gloss paint is the shiniest finish and offers the most reflection of all the finishes. They are also the toughest, most durable, and stain-resistant as well. High gloss paint is the easiest to clean which is why they are typically used for doors and cabinets where hands expose them to dirt and grime. High gloss is also often used for trim and molding.
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How a Paint Finish is Determined
Paints with glossier finishes, like satin or semi-gloss, are produced using higher levels of resin and lower levels of pigmentation. Paints with a matte or flat finish contain higher levels of pigmentation and lower amounts of resin, making them less shiny. Latex and oil paints alike are available in a variety of sheens. Nearly every sheen and finish can be used in your home, some are just suited for certain spaces better than others. Below are some basic rules to go by when choosing the best paint finish for each room in your home.
Adult or spare bedrooms are generally low traffic areas so a flat or matte finish works perfectly well. When painting a child’s bedroom, a satin sheen is typically the best choice because the walls are more likely to be scuffed or need to be cleaned more often.
Bathrooms require a stronger finish that is easy to wipe down and keep clean. Satin is more durable than eggshell and is an excellent choice for ceilings and walls. We recommend semi-gloss for any trim work or moldings as it is more moisture resistant.
Kitchens are always in use and in need of constant cleaning. A satin or semi-gloss finish is the best option, standing up to mildew, stains, and dirt.
Don’t waste your money on expensive paint for your ceilings. Flat or matte paint covers nicely and hides imperfections well.
One of the most popular and widely used paints for hallway walls is eggshell. It provides a low sheen and a smooth finish. Eggshell is easier to clean than a matte finish.
Living Rooms and Family Rooms
For high-traffic family rooms and living rooms, the best paint finish to use is eggshell or satin. Satin, being a bit more durable, is perfect for family rooms while eggshell is a great fit for living and dining rooms.
There is no question that high gloss paint is the best finish to use for interior trim. You definitely want to be using the most durable finish on areas that are easily scuffed, dented and dinged.
Satin vs Matte and Gloss Finish Conclusion
When it comes to determining a paint finish, there really is no right or wrong, just better or best. If you’re going to be starting a home painting project soon or have any questions regarding paint sheen and finish, call Boise Home Painting today. We have years of experience in the Treasure Valley with both exterior and interior painting. Painting is our passion and we want to share that passion with you. We serve the entire Boise area including Nampa, Meridian, Middleton, Eagle, and Caldwell. If you live near one of these cities, we can help you with your painting needs.