I love color in a room. Color can transform a room and give you certain feeling before you even step through the threshold. Before I begin painting a room I spend a lot of time thinking about the color, looking a paint chips in various lights, and immersing myself in the imagination of how that color feels. I love websites like this Behr site that lets you “try out” your rooms color combinations before you begin painting.
The first time I ever walked to the paint counter of my local hardware store I felt fully prepared for the experience. I handed over my paint chip and requested two gallons. And that’s when utter confusion set in. The conversation went something like this:
Gentleman Behind the Counter (GBC): Ma’am (okay he probably didn’t say ma’am, but in my head, everyone is super polite), what type of paint can I get for you today?
Me: Type? As in brand? I’ll take the one with that offers the rebate. (I plan these things out. I’m thrifty. I’m still proud of myself at this point.)
GBC: I mean, what finish would you like?
GBC: Would you like matte, satin, semi-gloss, gloss?
Me: (I say nothing here, I just look at the guy, so of course he feels the need to continue with his most helpful explanation.)
GBC: A gloss finish is very shiny. (He said this very s-l-o-w-l-y)
Me: (apparently at this point I look SO befuddled, GBC doesn’t even think I know the meaning of the word gloss. Or matte or semi-gloss, because he keeps going.)
It isn’t that I didn’t know the definition. I, who took so long to prepare for this very moment, was not in the least bit prepared for the question. I didn’t realize so many choices were available. Now, if you shop at a hardware store where the man behind the counter knows a bit more about paint, he may offer the following advice.
GBC: Well, if you are painting a kitchen or a bathroom, you should go with a gloss, because gloss is easier to clean.
Me: I’m painting a living room.
GBC: Well then I recommend satin or semi-gloss.
That is about as far as those conversations take you. They might have a few manufacturer recommended solutions – but I needed much more information to make my decision. The following is a little guide that I hope helps you.
Gloss: Like GBC said glossy = shiny. A gloss finish will pick up all available light sources in the room. Use this paint finish on areas that you really want to showcase. For this reason a gloss finish is typically used for trim pieces. However, if you are trying to hide imperfections in your trim, go with a different finish. Also, trim pieces, especially baseboards and chair rails, tend to attract dirt. A gloss finish is a snap to clean.
Matte: At the other end of the spectrum from gloss, this paint finish is meant to recede into the background. It is most often used on ceilings. Do you have a room that is just too sunny? If you find yourself squinting often, a coat of matte finish might be just the thing for your room.
Semi-gloss: Used often in high-traffic, accident-prone areas of your home, like the kitchen and bathroom, this finish is easy to wipe clean. But don’t stop there! If your walls have texture, if you are painting over a tile paneling, or you can’t seem to get enough light in your room – this is the finish coat for you. This finish will draw your eye to your lovely walls and all they display. Warning note – if you have wall imperfections such as cracks or holes, this is not the finish for you. Based on personal experience, I wouldn’t recommend this finish choice for covering old plaster walls. It will show off every defect!
Satin: Doesn’t the sound of “satin” just make you think of a luxurious bedroom? This paint finish recedes in a similar way as a matte finish but has just a bit of twinkle in it. This finish is an excellent choice for rooms in which you intend to use low lighting. It helps create an ambience of calm, making it wonderful for bedrooms or any other room where the primary function is relaxation.
Now, excuse me while I go print out a handful of copies of this guide and hide them among the paint brochures at my local hardware store. No weekend home decorator will be caught off guard on my watch!
Do you have any paint texture tips? I’d love to hear them. Leave your helpful comments below.