To Shine or Not to Shine: Picking Paint Sheens

So you’re sure that you want that semi gloss luster on the plaster walls of your 1900’s Victorian? What about that flat you want to put on your living room walls where your children play and spend most of their time?

We’d recommend a definitive “no” to both of these questions.

The semi gloss will potentially work on uniform surface, but most likely your textured plaster walls will have imperfections and nuances that will literally shine, light reflecting off the uneven surface, and drawing attention to every detail of the surface.

And while flat in the living room will hide those imperfections because there won’t be any light reflecting off the surface, it’s pretty much guaranteed that you’ll  be lamenting the flat finish every time you have to attempt to wipe anything messy off the wall such as smudges and little fingerprints.

Picking the right sheen for your wall is nowhere near as challenging as trying to pick out your actual colors, but the sheen could make or break the wall.

Just ask yourself a few questions…

1)    What is the overall function of the room? Is it a high traffic area or lightly used room? A central place where everyone meets? How much moisture gets into the air?

2)    How often will the walls need to be washed? A bathroom, kitchen, or utility room will need a careful washing from time to time.

3)    Are the walls in a condition where you’re not worrying about imperfections “shining” through?

Take these ideas into consideration as you contemplate each room:

1)    Flats work superbly for diminishing surface imperfections and textures, but don’t hold up well to repeated washing and have a tendency to burnish, especially darker colors.

2)    Semi-gloss and gloss are phenomenal as far as being easy to clean, but because the way light reflects off of the painted surface every texture and imperfection will be highlighted.

There is a happy medium though. One needn’t go to extremes in picking out sheens:

Eggshell sheen will help to hide imperfections because there is not a lot of light refraction coming off the surface while still allowing for some washability.

A satin sheen offers slightly more shine and luster than an eggshell finish and thus provides superior washability.

There are excellent design options available if a low sheen look is desired. For example, there are matte finishes available that will help hide the imperfections, dings and dents accumulated over the lifetime of surfaces in older homes.

Keep these helpful suggestions in mind when choosing color and sheen for a project:

Flat – Helps diminish visibility of imperfections. Since it’s less washable,  it’s best for use in areas where traffic is on the light side. Excellent for most ceiling surfaces (with the exception of kitchens and baths).

Eggshell – Has some wash-ability while hiding imperfections. Works well in an office/library, as well as bedrooms or medium traffic where the need to wipe down the surface on a regular basis doesn’t come up as often.

Satin – The noticeable sheen creates a nice washable surface. Compared with flat or an eggshell textures and imperfections will be more apparent than. Superior for higher traffic areas like an entryway or stairwell, and is an excellent finish for children’s rooms. Works nicely on trim/door surfaces.

Semigloss – Higher shine makes for a very washable surface. The higher sheen also means more light bouncing off of the surface. This is the type of finish you would find effective in bathrooms, kitchens, and laundry rooms. These surfaces will wash up very nicely and be quite durable. Semigloss is regularly used on trim/door surfaces

Gloss – Gloss is bold design choice. Sometimes used on trim/doors that have been perfectly prepared, there are those situations where it works well on walls needing regular washing.

It comes down to choosing what works best for any given room from a design and durability standpoint. There’s often a happy medium between functionality and aesthetics. Design trends today are leaning towards elegant subtlety with functionality that is sustainable.

Whatever painting project and finish needs you may have, surface preparation  needs to be of the highest priority. It’s critical to hire a painting contractor whose an expert and conscientious in completing these steps with attention to detail.  For over 10 years, Arana Craftsman Painters has maintained a top-quality reputation in the San Francisco and East Bay areas, supplying premium care to high-end homes.  Contact us to schedule a free consultation or to ask any questions you might have about a project you’re planning.

2018-01-23T23:07:44+00:00July 18th, 2016|