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Interior Wall Paint: Flat, Eggshell, Satin, Semi-Gloss or High-Gloss?

Wall Paint

As an avid and frequent interior decorator, I have explored and used a variety of paint styles in my painting. I have found that it is not so much about brand as it is about paint style or texture. In this article we will focus on latex paints. These paints do not contain lead; Before the advent of lead-free or latex paints, lead poisoning posed a terrible danger particularly for children and babies who might eat paint chips. Latex paint is low-odor, non-toxic and are much safer for to work with.

There are five basic styles of paint consistency: flat, eggshell, satin, semi-gloss, and enamel or high-gloss. but is rather a Each style varies in the way it looks, feels, lends itself to further decoration, and particularly, how it resists marks and cleans up. Let’s look at the various paint styles in a sequence from least to most sheen or gloss. The paint will be arranged this way on store shelves and will increase in cost with more sheen or gloss as well.

Flat paint: Flat paint is the least expensive and is totally shine free. Use this flat paint only if you will never need to wash the surface. Flat shows all marks and does not resist grease or stains. Any fingerprint or smudge will seep into flat paint and spread to an unsightly stain. Flat paint could be used for ceilings only in bedrooms or hallways, never in a kitchen or bath. I recommend eggshell or satin instead, however.

Eggshell: This style is not as commonly available. The name eggshell is an appropriate description as the paint does feel like the surface of an egg when it dries. This paint can be washed but only with much scrubbing. Eggshell will work on a non-kitchen or bathroom ceiling. A non-glossy paint is preferred for the ceiling where a duller, shine-free surface is preferable.

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Satin: This paint style has all the benefits of eggshell. It is more readily available and washes somewhat better. Satin does not hold up to any vigorous scrubbing, however. Satin paints do not show brush marks like the glossier styles.

Semi-gloss: Although this is the costliest of the paints, it is the most useful for rooms which get a great deal of use, like children’s bedrooms, playrooms, bathrooms, laundry rooms and kitchens. Semi-gloss has a nice sheen and washes up very well. Semi-gloss resists most all dirt, grime and grease very well. Semi-gloss is very durable.

High-gloss: This paint is more difficult to find and is very shiny. It works very well for areas like bathrooms near the sink, toilet or shower and around the sink and stove area in the kitchen.

There is also a sixth style which does not fall into the spectrum of paint styles; but it does have some unique advantages. This is usually called Kid Room paint, indicating that this particular kind of paint works well in areas where children play. It has detergent blended into the paint for easy clean-up. Paint prices vary but you can expect to pay about $2 more per gallon for each ascending level of glossiness. For example, if flat is $12, eggshell will be $14, satin $16 and semi-gloss will run $18 per gallon. Save money paint brands, sales and discounts, but don’t try to save a few dollars by choosing the wrong paint style for your use.