Paint is paint, right? Wrong! All paints are not the same and the finishes vary considerably. Not only do they look different but some are better suited to being used in distinct areas. Some of the most frequently used paint finishes are:
This means that selecting your colour is not the only decision that you need to make when adding a fresh coat of paint. If you don’t understand how the finishes vary, it can be incredibly confusing.
For interior wall finishes, emulsion paint is used most of the time. This is water-based, dries quickly and is easy to clean off brushes and rollers. Gloss, which is most often the go-to finish for wood is oil based. Chalk-based paint has also hit the headlines over the last few years with up-cyclers loving it when giving wood a make-over.
The finish of the paint that you decide to use in your rooms should be chosen not only according to how it looks but how it performs on an everyday basis. For example, if you have young children and pets, your chosen paint finish needs to be durable. The higher the ‘sheen’ on the paint, the tougher it tends to be.
Checking out the paint finishes
Let’s take a look at some of the finishes individually:
Matt – this has no sheen and gives a dull flat finish. Although it is not easy to wipe clean, it shows off colours nicely as it does not reflect light. This would not be your choice if you need a robust finish but otherwise looks great on the walls of all interiors.
Eggshell – this falls somewhere in the middle when it comes to sheen, with the finish looking pretty much like an ‘eggshell’. Tougher than matt but not as hardy as gloss, it looks great on woodwork within the interior. If you opt for an exterior finish, eggshell can even be used on doors and windows outside the property.
Satin and Silk – both have a mid-level sheen. Silk is best for walls and satin for interior woodwork. Both look a little polished so do reflect some light. They can also be wiped gently if kiddies or pets decide to leave their imprint! If this paint attracts you, do remember that because is reflects light, it will also show up every imperfection. This is fine if you have nice new smooth walls but in older properties, it might not be such a good idea. Buyers of this paint also like to use it in bathrooms and kitchens as it will protect against moisture – great if you have a condensation problem.
Gloss – this is the king of shiny and definitely not to be used on walls. Suited only to woodwork, it is oil based which means that brushes and equipment cannot be cleaned with water. Reflecting the most light, it is pretty tough so when used on skirting boards, doors etc., it can be wiped clean and will withstand some knocks.
Chalk – the only paint finish that we have not really touched on much here is chalk-based paint. That is because it is still a fairly new addition, made popular by designers such as Annie Sloan. Not only do up-cyclers love it but because it gives a nice soft finish, it looks lovely in children’s bedrooms. Not the best choice for playrooms though as it is definitely not washable. Most of the time, it is used on wood.
This should help to eradicate most of your confusion when it comes to choosing paint finishes for walls and woodwork. If you are using a professional painter to decorate your home and need some advice, you will always find their expertise and knowledge invaluable.