Paint Sheen

Your choice of paint sheen has a big influence on the way your colors will look. Mattenes or highgloss can be a styling choice, but the choice can also be a practical one: matte paint hides little irregularities, and high-gloss makes them come out. On the other hand: high-gloss paints are the strongest paints, and with the right preparations they give the most durable results.

Glossy interior wall paint

The effect of paint sheen on your colors

In general, a paint color will be a bit darker when it's in high-gloss. But, as you can see on the above picture: when the light shines on glossy paint, the color is hidden behind the shiny light effects, which will move as you walk past it. The shine also makes every surface irregulariy come out. Matte paint will have a velvety look, and is often chosen when pure, velvety colors are desired - or when it's needed to camouflage little irregularities.

Kinds of paint sheen- from matte to highgloss

The amount of shine or luster, from matte to highgloss: flat or matte, eggshell, pearl, satin, semi-gloss, and high-gloss. In Canada, satin is between flat and eggshell. Here are some basic features:

  • The shinier the paint, the stronger the coat.
  • The shinier the paint, the better it can be cleaned. Matte paint easily picks up dirt.
  • The shinier the paint, the more surface irregularities will come out.
  • Latex paint has some breathing capacity, acrylics don't. That makes latex more suitable for walls (if you close the wall surfaces with acrylics, the moisture can't go anywhere)

Pro's and cons per type of paint sheen

Matte paint sheen gives colors a velvety look, especially when seen in not too strong or indirect light. It can be very beautiful. In one go, it also hides irregularities of the painting surface. The downside is: it gets dirty quicker, and it's harder to clean. It's also a matter of styling needs. In a colorful interior matte paint sheen is pretty, but when the emphasis is on materials or neutrals, it's good to have a variety of sheens in your interior design.

Highgloss sheen can look very classy, and provide some extra contrast (shiny-matte). Which is great when your interior is modest on colors. Offwhite doors look very classy, when painted a perfect highgloss. It's also the most durable kind of paint, and easy to clean. Which is necessary too, because you see every fingerprint on them. The downside: you need to do very thorough preparations, because highgloss puts a shine on every little irregularity. Only abrasing and cleaning won't do: you also need to spackle everything and abrase again. Colored highgloss paint can add extra value to 'old' colors, or an 'old' look (classical or folk). In the elite houses of the old days, woods were painted with oil paint (glossy or semi-gloss paint sheen). Oldfashioned milk paint however, a farmer's paint, is very matte.

Every paint sheen between matte and high-gloss (eggsheen, satin, pearl, semi-gloss) is a compromise. If you like the mattenes, but also want the paint to be cleanable, you take egg-sheen. If you like some gloss, but don't want to wipe off greasy fingerstains all the time, you take semi-gloss. In oil painting, there's a trick to make glossy paints matte: you mix a few drops of water in. You might try that if you're in for some adventure. (I can't guarentee it gives durablitiy in interior paint, though). But for oils, it's no problem.

Latex paint sheen

Latexes are only available in matte and eggsheen. Cheaper latexes are more flat or matte than the better ones. Still, high-gloss is only available in acrylic enamel paint. Having high-gloss wall paint is possible, but better put panelling or hardboard on the walls first. When you close the wall-surface itself, the moisture can't go anywhere and will condensate on your walls or ceiling. Also, you'll have to take off all the acrylic paint, before you can paint it with latex again (a layer of wallpaper can be a solution then)

Acrylic paint sheen

Acrylics are available in all sheens. Do mind, that enamel paints work differently than mattes. Enamel and semi-gloss paints level out. You spread them as evenly as you can, and the texture of the brushstrokes disappears too. Enamel paints need a good primer. When the surface is too porous, they are sucked in and get an unneat appearance: blotchy, only shining here and there.

Painting over high-gloss oil-based paint

High-gloss paint can be acrylic, or oil based. When you're not sure, and you want to paint it over, first give it a priming layer (for oil-based paint). Then you can paint on it with acrylics again.

Interior painting techniques - brush or roll?

If you don't want to see brushstrokes, you might consider using rollers. On walls, you can work fast with a big roller. Using a roller is no guarantee for a hiding paint coat. The downside of rolling: if the paint doesn't hide, the rolling pattern is less pretty than an eventual brushing texture. You'll have to do more layers then. If you choose to do a partial hide(for example on the wall), work with brushes and matte paint, and make something artistic out of it.

Enamel paints are best rolled in thin layers. When you work with rollers, first do the edges of your project with a smaller brush, then fill in the bigger surfaces with a roller. First roll a "W" shape, to spread the paint over a bigger surface, then fill the rest in, and last roll everything even. Check the paintstore for different types of rollers. For enamel paints also goes: if the edges are painted neatly, and the paint has been evenly spread, it might be pretty to not have a complete hide (looks great with reds and browns)

Related pages:



Oil Painting Techniques

Acrylic Painting

Watercolor painting

Color Schemes

Interior Painting techniques

Interior Painting Ideas

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