In Advice, Paint, Painting Tips

Picking the right paint colour is one part of the equation to getting started with your own DIY painting project, the other part is what type of paint finish to use that will enhance the colours of your painting project should you go with.

paint finishes
How much light reflects off a painted surface is described as a sheen to the paint finish. From flat to high gloss choosing the right one enhances the paint colours.

Choosing paint colours can be fun and exciting as it helps us express our creativity and adds our personalities to our home painting and decorating projects.

The information and tips that follow will explain the differences between the paint finishes or sheen, why you need to choose one over the other and which is going to be the best one to use so that you can put the finishing statement of the perfect enhancement to your paint colour choices. 

What Is Paint Finish 

In the house painting business the paint finish is a measure of how much light reflects off the painted surface, resulting in gloss or lack of.  The different paint finishes will be visible on a painted surface such as walls and ceilings by the reflection of how shiny or glossy the reflect light.

What Is Paint Sheen 

Paint Sheen is just another term used for or instead of paint finish but it means exactly the same.  If you want to get technical there is a perfect article with explanation on wikipedia all about paint sheen and finish. 

Types Of Paint Finishes

There are several different types of paint sheens and finishes, some that reflect more light and others that reflect none at all.  The levels of shine or gloss range from no shine to high shine and can affect how colours appear and how lighting affects the dimension of the rooms.  While there are many different types the following are the most common choices of paint products for home painting. 

Flat Paint Finish 

If you are looking for the best way to conceal and hide any drywall or ceiling imperfections the best choice for paint finish is the Flat or Matte.  Because their is no shine or glare to this type of paint finish you can easily do repairs with great coverage and concealing when you start. 

A little prep work goes a long way before painting walls and choosing a flat paint finish for rooms that are less busy such as bedrooms or dining rooms makes all the sense to getting the best finishing results. 

The flat paint finishes are also great to use to hide the many imperfections in older homes with the older types of gyproc/drywall but they are not the best paint finishes for kitchens or bathrooms. 

It is also worth noting that when buying paint choosing a flat finish will usually mean a lower cost per gallon of paint. 

Eggshell Paint Finish 

The eggshell paint finish is a popular choice for interior painting as it is easy to clean and easy to touch up any scuff marks or scratches.  It is also popular for its smooth almost velvet like look and feel and the fact that it’s neither to shiny nor to flat. 

Eggshell paint finish is easy to maintain with a simple wiping up of most fingerprints, grease or dirt with just a damp cloth.  It hides imperfections well enough but marks up easily in higher trafficked areas of a home such hallway entrances.  It is very commonly used in everyday spaces like living rooms and dining rooms and also in bedrooms but is not recommended to use in kitchens, laundry rooms where there is more traffic and levels of humidity or moisture. 

Semi-Gloss Paint Finish 

Is a durable and easily washable finish.  It is resistant to humidity making it ideal for painting kitchens and bathrooms, just make sure to ask for the mildew resistant formula for those high moisture areas like kitchens and bathrooms. 

With a slight visible shine it is ideal for trim, baseboards, molding, and doors.  It is also good for any woodwork or cabinetry. 

Semi-gloss finish is easy to clean and is very durable making it easy to clean frequently.  It can also handle any soap as well as added scrubbing without damaging the paint. 

It is important to note that semi gloss finish will reflect light and may make a paint colour look darker.  It will also require more prep work before you begin painting as it will show any and all imperfections to drywall and ceilings and there fore it is important to ensure you get all the repairs to drywall, nail holes filled and make sure all surfaces are completely sanded and dry before painting with a semi gloss finish. 

Gloss Paint Finish 

Just as the name implies, gloss paint finishes will give you the highest level of shine, sometimes referred to in the painting business as a specialty paint finish.  It sometimes has a mirror like effect and look due to the high shine. 

Gloss paint is of the highest in durability factor.  It can take on more dirt and grime than any of the other paint finishes.  It can even withstand a little extra elbow grease when scrubbing to remove the dirt afterwards. 

High Gloss Paint Finish

A high gloss paint finish is best used for trim, baseboards, doors and other architectural elements like crown molding and wainscotting. 

Both the gloss and high gloss finishes are the strongest and the shiniest, leaving the opportunity of every imperfection on the walls or ceilings to show.  Gloss and high gloss finishes are not recommended for painting walls or ceilings. 


Choosing the Right Paint Finish 

When tackling a home painting project  deciding on paint colour is the easiest part of the whole project.  Whether you do it on your own or hire a home painting company  add the perfect enhancement to any paint colour by making the right choice of paint finish. 

Knowing which type of sheen to go with has everything to do with how light reflects off the freshly painted walls and ceilings to help prevent and understand why paint colours look different once they are on the surfaces. 

If you have questions about which paint finish is right for your next painting project contact painters in Ottawa near you, to schedule a an in-home consultation for painting quote. 

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This post was originally published on Feb 9, 2015 and edited 22 Dec 2021