The Different Kinds of Paint Sheens

So just when you think you’re ready to pick out the colors you want for painting the interior of your home, you probably suddenly realize that you aren’t just going to have to find the colors you want but you also need to figure out what kind of paint you want to use. You’ll face the decision of what kind of sheen you should go with. Will it be a flat paint, satin finish, eggshell, semi-gloss, or a high-gloss? You will also want to pick between an oil-based or latex paint. No need to panic, we’re here to help you understand all of the differences.

Types of colors for Interior Paints

Is It Latex or Oil?

 It’s important to note that latex is water-based paint and it actually has some great and useful advantage over an oil-based that include the following:

  • It’s easy to apply
  • Cleans up with just soap and water
  • It dries pretty quickly
  • There’s not as much odor as with oil-based
  • Very durable paint

Latex paint will also resist yellowing and mildew a lot better than oil-based paints. This type of paint works well in kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry rooms where there is a lot more moisture than other rooms in your home.

When it comes to the oil-based paints they are often very high quality and are much harder and they are a lot more abrasion resistant than that of latex paints. Oil-based are also somewhat glossier. In the long run, the best perk to the oil-based paint is that it goes on smoother and it’s more durable over time. The disadvantage however is that they have a pretty strong odor, they take a lot longer to dry, and they also require some type of solvent to make it thinner and to clean up after.

So, What Kind of Sheen?

Sheen means what level of glossiness a paint has. Most paints come in the following types of sheens: flat, eggshell, satin, gloss, and semi-gloss.

  • Flat Paint – This type of paint has the lowest sheen that’s available and when it’s dry, it is totally non-reflective and ends up with a matte finish. This type of paint is great because it will easily cover up any imperfect surfaces in a wall and it looks more uniform and smoother. This is recommended for painting drywall or anything that might not be sanded down very well. Also, if a wall gets scratched or dinged up after painting you don’t have to worry very much about scratches and nicks. The biggest disadvantage with a flat sheen is that it’s porous and hold onto the dirt more and it’s difficult to clean.
  • Eggshell and/or Satin – These two are considered to be often known as “low-luster” paints. These kinds of paint are a little bit more lustrous than flat paint. The slight sheen is what makes it look like an eggshell or satin finish. It gives a room a warm feel and look and can actually bring a look of depth to a room. It’s easier to clean than flat paint and it can be used on any kind of wall in a home. It’s best, however, before committing to any big project get a small amount of the paint and then paint a small area of a wall to make sure you like the look of it.
  • Semi-Gloss Sheen – This kind of paint has more luster than all the others mentioned so far. This kind of sheen is often used in kid’s bedrooms, bathrooms, and kitchens because this sheen is a lot more durable, easier to clean and a lot more damage resistant. Your best bet is to make sure that you pick one that is 100% acrylic latex. This is the higher quality latex paint. Just remember to keep in mind that this type of sheen is going to show off any imperfections there might be in your walls, so if you have walls that are imperfections and also have young children you should weigh the pros and cons before buying.
  • Gloss Paint – This type of paint is the most durable and toughest of all the paints and it’s also the shiniest. This paint is extremely high shine and it’s very popular for doors and in places that get really dirty. It’s also used often to paint moldings, door frames, baseboards, and even exterior trims. You’ll need to do good prep work smoothing out any surface you’ll be painting because this paint shows imperfections more than any other paint.

Final Thoughts

No matter what sheen you choose, it’s important to note that you should always make sure that you start off with an absolutely clean surface to paint. If the walls aren’t properly prepared it won’t matter what kind of paint you use, it’s not going to come out looking the way you want it to.

It’s also a good idea if you get a few samples of all the different sheens and then experimenting on small patches of a wall to see which sheen you might prefer.

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