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5 Interior Paint Finishes (And How To Use Them In Your Home)

Mar 7th, 2018 // Blog, Interior and Exterior Painting

Paint has the power to transform your space. But color isn’t the only choice you’ll have to make before you cut in. Different formulas and finishes can change the character of a room just as much as the hue.

Here are 5 common interior paint finishes and the best places to use them around your home.

Water-based paint vs. Oil-based paint

Before we break down different interior paint finishes, we’ll discuss two major types of paint, water-based and oil-based.

Water-based paint

Most paints in today’s market are water-based. They’re easier to work with and more environmentally friendly compared to oil-based paints. If walls, trims or floors have previously been painted with an oil-based paint (common in older homes) the new water-based product may not stick properly.

If you suspect the wall may have been painted with oil-based paint, test your new paint on a small patch. Once you confirm the product isn’t sticking, you should wash, dry and sand the wall to make it porous enough to hold the paint without peeling.

Oil-based paint

Oil-based paints are seldom used because they are harder to work with; spills require paint thinner to remove. Their higher levels of toxic emissions aren’t great for the environment and require a ventilation while painting.

However, oil-based paints are more resilient to wear and offer a smoother, glossier finish. That’s why they’re used on trims, floors, and woodwork that often take a beating.


Interior Paint Finishes

Both water-based and oil-based Interior paints are available in variable levels of sheen from matte to high gloss. Here are the most common interior paint finishes:


1. High Gloss Paint

Obviously, high gloss paint will reflect the most light. They mimic the look of plastic or enamel. More people are using them indoors to create a more temporary look. These paints stand up to the most stains and cleaning. On the other hand, they highlight imperfections, so proper prepping and sanding is important.

Where to use them: Their durability make high gloss paints practical for trims, molding, and baseboards. The light they reflect can brighten and add dimension to a dark room.


2. Semi-Gloss Paint

Semi-gloss paints are also easy to clean. Surfaces also need to be especially level and sanded while using this paint.

Where to use them: Semi-gloss paints are great for kitchens and bathrooms which need to be cleaned often. The sheen is enough to add brightness but not look too fancy.


3. Satin Finish Paint

Satin finish paint is reflective but doesn’t show as many imperfections as high gloss and semi-gloss paints. It’s more velvety than an eggshell finish.

Where to use them: Satin finish paint is great for kids rooms that need some light cleaning but are meant to be warm and playful, not stark and sterile.


4. Eggshell Finish Paint

Eggshell finish paints are less resilient to stains than satin or gloss paints but can’t take constant cleaning. These have a very subtle sheen, just like the shell of an egg (duh). Blemishes will also show up less with eggshell finishes.

Where to use them: Eggshell finish paints are great for walls that may suffer a few dents and dings, like family rooms and dens but don’t require a lot of cleaning.


5. Flat or Matte Finish Paint

Often difficult to clean, matte finish paints are the most velvety and the least shiny. It’s the most common interior paint for bedrooms. If you have an older house and you don’t want to patch the walls just yet, a flat paint will make imperfections the least visible.

Where to use them: Matte finishes are appropriate for every room in your house, so if you want to buy one color for all of your rooms, matte is the way to go. It won’t clean as well as the others, but touching up stains with a little more paint will do the trick.


Which paint finish are you using for your next project?

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