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Choosing a paint can be perplexing at first as there are so many different colors to pick from. Having a wide range of colors options is a luxury and a result of years of innovation compared to the handful of color finishes just 100 years ago. Just as important as paint color consideration is sheen choice. The main types of paints are Flat, Matte, Satin, Semi-gloss, Gloss, High-gloss, and Latex.
What is Paint Sheen?
Paint sheen is the level of glossiness in paint. High gloss paint will make your furniture or walls appear to have a glossy shine, compared to a flat paint which has no reflectiveness. Almost every brand of paint can be sold with a handful of sheen options, except for oil paint unfortunately. Flat oil paint is quite rare. You can buy the basic Flat Whiteand Flat Black paint made by rustoleum, and custom oil colors are often sold in satin such as Sherwin & Williams Paints, and semi gloss and gloss such though Parkers Paints, and Benjamin Moore.
Matte paint is one of the most popular sheen's on walls, as they are conceal imperfections better than glosses as they reflect far less light. It is quite important that when choosing a wall paint, that enamel is considered in high traffic areas. Often times children can scuff up walls in a hurry, or touch the walls leaving oily hand prints that can be very noticeable over time. Scrub able paints, or enamel paints are often the best choice for walls.
Satin paints are another very popular choice because of durability which has a soft finish that exudes warmth. Satin paint is the number one recommendation for furniture painting.
I have made the mistake in the past of using matte or flat paint as my final finish on some of my painted furniture pieces and it doesn't look right. I clued into my mistake after educating myself by looking at higher end painted furniture, and not one of them had a flat finish. Flat finishes are meant for walls that rarely get touched. Over time flat paint is very porous, and it will collect oil which ruins the finish very quickly. Although flat paint is almost imperative in painting, and we will tell you why below:
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Flat Paint :
Flat Paint is commonly used on most walls, and has the lowest sheen available. Flat paint produces a very smooth finish and has non-reflective properties. Flat paint will conceal wall imperfections and it does this the very best compared to all other paint sheens. If you do have an older style home, consider flat paint with an enamel properties. This will enable you to scrub your walls, but also conceal the large amount of blemishes that exist on most every wall. Unless you have fresh drywalls, do not consider using a gloss or a semi gloss on your walls.
Flat paint lacks shine and is harder to scrub dirt and dust off without rubbing the dirt in further. Flat paint will not show any lines, cracks, or imperfections that exist, which makes it a miracle paint. I would not suggest using really dark paint colors with flat paint on walls. Flat paint is also most commonly used on ceilings, but not so much in high traffic areas where the wall will get dirty.
Matte and flat paint are almost the same sheen. Matte paint has a little more shine than flat but not much that it is a noticeable difference.
Satin or Eggshell
Satin or Eggshell paint is the prime choice for painting furniture. Furniture should always have some sort of sheen, either from the paint itself or from furniture wax.
Satin or eggshell paint has a low-luster and slightly sheen properties. They have a bit more luster compared to flat or matte paint, and gives more warmth and depth to a room compared to flat paint. The beauty of satin or eggshell paint is it still conceals imperfections quite well. It will not do quite as good of a job as flat when hiding defects on the wall, but it is more scrub able than matte paint.
Semi Gloss paint is very durable and one of the easiest to clean. Semi gloss is often the most popular choice to use in bathrooms, and kitchens, and children's bedrooms, and is often used in high traffic areas due to the ability of being highly scrub able.
However, semi-gloss paint has some draw backs, making it a sheen most people steer away from. Semi gloss paint will not hide blemishes, but will magnify them. You will be able to see the crack or the roller marks from the paint brushes very easily.
Personally I do not use any type of gloss paint unless the furniture or wall is almost perfect.Either the walls are fresh drywall, or my furniture is sanded quite well. The reason for this is often times when you walk into a room with shiny walls, it is the first thing you notice, and often times as nice as the furniture may be, or the room beautifully decorated, your eyes are drawn back to the walls AND then to the imperfections. Your customers, or guests will notice the imperfections in an instant.
There are certain occasions where Semi gloss paints is a necessity such as Children's rooms, back splashes in kitchens or bathrooms. Also, semi gloss paint is imperative in creating some specialty faux finishes.Faux Marble is one finish that semi, gloss, or high gloss paint is used. Marble will always have a high gloss shine, so therefore if your walls were painted in a faux marble the sheen should be expected to be shiny.
Gloss should be an absolute must on baseboard, trim and and door frames. Not only will it be durable to scrub, but it will also show off the ornate details that trim work and architectural moldings are so famous for. There is nothing more beautiful than a glossy front door that has incredible depth in the paint. It certainly screams luxury! Again, the draw backs are it reveals imperfections, so be sure to sand well before and between coats.
High-gloss paint is a gloss paint that is glossed to the max. High gloss paint reflects so much light that it will draws in the light reflection from every angle.
High Gloss paints are perfect for high end furniture with plenty of curves, such as bombe dressers, french chairs, french chests, grand pianos and so forth. Heavily carved architectural moldings would be the ideal choice for high gloss finishes.
How to Achieve a Professional High Gloss Finish.
Tip #1 - Be sure your Surface is Flawless
If you are going after a high gloss finish, be sure to sand your piece of furniture with the finest sandpaper to begin. Next, use a flat paint in the exact same color you are planning on using in a gloss. Painting with gloss paint is sort of like painting with a lot of clear glaze. I made the mistake of using a high gloss on some walls without a base coat. I started off with the gloss, and after 6 coats it still didn't cover. It was an absolute mess, because after 6 coats, you could see endless roller marks. Start off with your flat coat to start, and be sure your coverage is perfect before working with the gloss. This means your finish should be cover your furniture completely, with it sanded to perfection before working with the gloss. Spraying furniture is often the supreme choice when working with gloss paint, although foam brushes do such a good job, so don't discount hand painting as long as it is combined with sanding.
A Primer is a requirement, with a number of coats of the same color in flat to begin. Be sure your walls are fully covered in the flat paint before you begin working with the high gloss paint. Again your flat and high gloss paint will be the exact same color.
If you are planning to paint gloss paint over existing flat walls, you will need two coats of paint to avoid flashing (unevenness of sheen throughout the wall). Two coats improve consistency of sheen and enhance color tone.
Tip #2 Work With A Smooth Roller or Brush
Be sure to work with a SMOOTH roller that will leave no marks on your walls, such as a Ultra smooth polyurethane roller, or foam roller.
These painting tips will help your walls and furniture look like a professional finish with each project you undertake. Be sure to not rush your self, and allow some some extra time and your furniture will look amazing.
Steven Gambrel's Home Pictures can be found here on Modern Interior Design Ideas and Pictures