A member of our team had a hard-time explaining various paint finishes to a prospective client sometime ago. It took him some time before he could effectively educate the client on various paint finish.
This particular topic is quite tricky because of the varying level of sheen for different finishes.
There’s a basic rule of thumb to follow when choosing paint sheens: The higher the sheen, the higher the shine — and the higher the shine, the more durable it will be.
Flat paint has no shine; high-gloss is all shine. In between are eggshell, satin, and semi-gloss, each with its own practical and decorative job to do.
Choosing the right sheen level can completely transform the look of your walls, so make sure you consider different finishes to make the most of your space. Here’s a little guide to help you:
A friend to walls that have something to hide, flat/matt soaks up, rather than reflects, light.
Matt emulsion is smooth, velvety and helps to hide imperfections on less-than-perfect walls.
Flat matt emulsion is even more velvety and because matt surfaces don’t reflect light, they make all colours look as similar as they can be in very different light conditions. Flat matt works wonders on deeper shades, too.
Satin and Silk are ‘mid-sheen’ finishes, which means they look like a slightly polished surface and reflect a bit of light. Silk is a finish associated with walls and satin for woodwork. You can wipe silk wall finishes easily which makes them very practical but if you have less-than-perfect walls, all the lumps and bumps may show up a bit more. A satin finish on woodwork helps to hide imperfections and gives colour a softer appearance.
Eggshell has less of a sheen than silk or satin and it does look like the surface of an eggshell (the clue’s in the name). It sits somewhere between matt and a silk finish and gives a beautiful classic look to woodwork – and can also be used on walls when you want a heritage style look with a tough finish.
Eggshell covers wall imperfections well and is a great finish for gathering spaces that don’t get a lot of bumps and scuffs.
The most durable and easiest to clean of all paint sheens, gloss paint is hard, ultra-shiny, and light-reflecting.
Gloss is a good choice for area that sticky fingers touch — cabinets, trim, and doors. High-gloss, however, is too much shine for interior walls. You have to have a great surface to make it look its best, but it is hugely practical and adds a lovely contrast to walls that are painted in a matt.
In Summary, If your paint color is dark and rich but you don’t want a super shiny effect, step down at least one level on the sheen scale. That’s because the darker and richer the paint color is, the more colorant it has, which boosts sheen. Ditto if you’re painting a large, sun-washed, or imperfect wall. The higher the sheen, the more defects will show.