Warmer weather is just around the corner, and spring is a perfect time to repaint a room for a fresh look. If a painting project is on your agenda, think about what finish or sheen would be the best for your room.
Here’s a rundown of the four paint finishes and their properties:
If you have imperfect walls, such as plaster walls that aren’t smooth, a flat or matte paint finish will help hide flaws. A flat finish doesn’t reflect light as some other finishes do, so it can create a more soothing feeling that’s great for bedrooms or libraries. It’s also a good choice for ceilings.
Flat is not the best finish for high-traffic areas, because it’s difficult to clean. So avoid using it in kids’ rooms, kitchens or bathrooms.
Gloss is the opposite of flat — shiny, easy to clean and drawing attention to even the most minor surface imperfections. Gloss paint may reflect too much light for your living room walls, but it is a good choice for cabinets, doors and trim. If you want to minimize imperfections, sand surfaces to smooth rough spots before you paint.
Semi-gloss is the kinder, gentler relative of gloss — less inclined to reveal imperfections and a little more reserved in its reflection of light. Semi-gloss is the go-to paint for kitchen and bathroom walls, because it generally wipes clean with a damp cloth.
Eggshell — also called satin or low-luster — is the most versatile paint finish. Its light-reflecting qualities lie between those of flat and semi-gloss, so it creates a nice sheen that works well in most rooms.
If you’re looking to add visual interest or want to set off an architectural feature in your home, you could combine two different paint finishes in a single room. For example, vertical stripes in the same color, in alternating semi-gloss and matte finishes, can create a sophisticated look without overwhelming a space.
If your kitchen has a breakfast nook or alcove, painting it in a flat finish can set it off from the rest of the room and create a cozy feel.
Choosing a paint finish is a matter of personal preference, of course. And if you decide you don’t like the results, you can always repaint.