Originally Published: June 5, 2015 6 a.m.
QUESTION: We are 80 years old, our home is 30 years old and we have painted the interior a couple of times with "white" paint throughout. My wife now has this idea she wants some color and wants to wake up our walls. I have been reading about paint sheens and want to know your thoughts before we meet with painters. I do not expect to paint for another 30 years so we want to do it right for our glamor shot. - Walt and Bernice, Prescott.
ANSWER: Choosing the right paint sheen is almost as overwhelming as choosing the right lipstick to wear. There are as many lipsticks on the market today as there are paint colors and sheens. And how lipstick looks in the tube can be very different to how it applies. Trust me I know; this girl needs a different lipstick finish for almost every day of the week and coverage, color, occasion and, of course, mood plays a very important part in the selection - same thing as paint.
With paint there is a basic rule of thumb as they say - the higher the sheen, the higher the shine and the higher the shine, the more durable the paint will be. This is not true with lipstick - the higher the sheen or gloss, the higher extreme amount of shine but it doesn't last long and needs to be applied frequently.
When choosing paint, your first consideration should be color, but keep in mind that sheen is just as important.
There is flat paint, high-gloss, eggshell, satin and semi-gloss and each paint with their own workable viable and decorative job to do. And back to my lipstick dilemma, there is matte, cream, satin, frost, sheer, gloss and of course the lip pencil, all with their decorative job to do.
High-gloss paint is probably the most durable and easiest of all paint sheens to clean and wipe down and should be used in areas that are subject to lots of finger touch such as doors and trim. The durability of high gloss paint is superior.
Semi-gloss paint is good for bathrooms and kitchens; areas where moisture occurs and also has high durability.
Satin paint has a stately luster to it and presents almost a smooth soft velvet appearance. Satin is also easy to clean but does show brush strokes if not applied professionally. Satin can be used in bedrooms, hallways and family rooms and is durable.
And yes, there is the cream/satin lipstick that delivers full coverage and wears well and is also versatile and multi-purpose, just like satin paint.
Eggshell paint is somewhere in between satin and flat on the sheen-o-meter. Eggshell is called eggshell because it has very little luster and no shine - as yes, you guessed it - the luster of a chicken egg. Eggshell paint covers well and is a good paint for multi areas of a home such as family rooms, and open areas. Eggshell paint covers imperfections quite well and is considered to be middle of the road as far as durability.
Flat or matte paint is a good light reflector and as they say is a good friend to walls that have some imperfection. Flat paint has good coverage because this type of paint has a higher percentage of pigment than other paint formulas and can usually be applied with just one or two coats whereas the semi-gloss and high-sheen paints could possible require more coats for better coverage. Flat paint is more difficult to clean because the paint can be easily removed with scrubbing. Matte paint, just like matte lipstick, has good coverage and will stay put. Flat or matte paint is good bedrooms and should not be used in humidity areas of the home such as bathrooms or kitchens.
It is important to remember that the darker and richer the paint color is, the more colorant it has, which boosts sheen and the higher the sheen, the more defects will show. Also keep in mind it is very common for an eggshell paint from one manufacturer to look like a satin paint from another paint manufacturer, so it is highly recommended that you paint large color swatches on a wall to help you assess the sheen and color.
Just like lipstick, the finish describes the appearance so keep in mind the wearability, the greater color payoff, the glossiness, no shine, all matte, frosted shimmer, soft shine, low-color impact and the appealing appearance of paint on your walls or appealing appearance of lipstick on your lips.
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