home improvement project planning

How to Choose the Right Paint Finish for Your Home Projects

Throughout the years, I have consulted with clients on how to choose the right finishes for their paint projects…here is a quick reference guideline:

Flat – good for ceilings throughout the house except for kitchens and bathrooms. Flat is NOT recommended for your walls because it is NOT very forgiving. I liken it to a chalkboard. If you accidentally rub furniture against the wall, touch the wall with dirty hands or worse, a child writes on the wall, you have every little to no recourse but to repaint.

Eggshell – highly recommended for walls throughout the house except for kitchens and bathrooms. It has a little bit of a sheen which allows you to wipe away any “accidents” as indicated above.

Satin – this is my recommendation for kitchen and bath areas. Most painters recommend semi-gloss, but semi-gloss is too shiny and tends to look very industrial (like a hospital). Satin offers ease of cleaning without the glossy overkill. It’s a lot more sophisticated and modern.

Semi-Gloss – perfect for doors and trim. It offers the ease of cleaning (you just wipe it down with a damp sponge or cloth) with just the right contrast against your eggshell walls to make your woodwork pop.

A few extra tips to keep in mind:

  • Be careful when doing touch-ups. Make sure it is the right finish. I have seen on more than one occasion when the wrong finish was used to do touch-ups and the walls end up looking like it has a skin condition. If the original paint finish is flat, make sure to touch up using the same flat paint. If the original paint finish is semi-gloss, make sure to touch up using the same semi-gloss paint. Paint finishes are not interchangeable. You will notice a difference, even between semi-gloss and high-gloss. Don’t try to cut corners because it will cost you more in time, effort and money in the long run!
  • If it’s been a few years since the walls have been painted, touch up is not the right solution. Wall colors tend to fade from the sun and dust and dirt will also change the wall color.
  • Avoid painting EVERYTHING (walls, doors, trim) the same finish). There is no contrast and it just looks bad!!! If you’re going to put forth the effort, do it right! The only time I recommend painting the wall and the baseboard the same color is when you have the builder’s grade 1 inch baseboards. It’s not worth highlighting those baseboards with a contrasting paint color. If the budget does not allow for upgrading the baseboards, painting the wall and the old baseboard the same color and finish allows it to blend together and bring less attention to the inferior trim.
  • Check the paint color in the room that you’ll be painting that color in…colors tend to look different in different light. Better yet, get a sample and paint a swatch on the wall for best results.
  • Remember, color is your friend. Don’t be afraid to add a little color to your home…it makes furnishings, paintings, everything look better!

Paint is the least expensive home improvement resource with the most return on investment. Choose wisely and enjoy the rewards!

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