man texturizing a wall

Options in Types of Wall Paint Finishes & Textures

For interior painting projects, you can avoid regrets by learning about your options in types of wall paint finishes and textures before you begin. Once walls are painted, decades often pass before painting is needed again. A job done well has a daily payoff for many years to come. It all starts with choosing not only the right paint color but the right paint finish or an alternative texture. A lot of painting companies will attempt to steer you towards a flat finish for the best “look”, but be wary. Many times it’s in the painter’s best interest to use flat. Flat hides the most imperfections, is the easiest to make look nice on the wall for the painter, and in many cases is the lowest cost option for the painter to purchase. Also note that flat as well as any of the below finishes can come in varying levels of quality…be sure to ask! All interior paints are NOT created equal! An attentive painting contractor will ask questions about your goals for the space, use of the space, and how you want your paint to perform long-term before suggesting the right quality and sheen for your application. If the painting contractor you invited over for a bid stresses using flat regardless of your goals, think twice before agreeing, and we recommend a second or third opinion.

Types of Wall Paint Finishes

There are various types of wall paint finishes, and the different types of wall paint are references to “sheen.” The surface texture of a paint determines the way light bounces off the wall’s painted surface. The different sheens have certain qualities that make them better for some rooms than others. Below is information about the six different paint finishes, which rooms they are typically used in, and why.

1-Flat Paint finish

Recommended for ceilings, closets, dining rooms, home theatres, guest bedrooms and other rooms with low traffic or usage. Flat does not wipe off well, and will often “burnish,” or leave a slightly shiny mark, after attempting to wipe it off or rubbing up against it. Has zero or almost zero shine, and economy flats cannot be wiped off or cleaned without some of the paint coming off. Even “washable” flats can burnish, so proceed with caution. Flat is the easiest sheen to touch up of all of the sheens. Builders favor flat paint to make a new drywall job look good and also because the multitude of trades required to build a new house will always ensure touch up is needed.

2-Matte Paint Finish

Also can be labeled as a “flat enamel” – matte paints will get most of the look of a flat with most of the durability of an eggshell. Most matte paints can be wiped off without burnishing, have decent touch-up characteristics, and can be used in most areas depending on the manufacturer and level of quality chosen. Matte paints have become more shiny over the years, as “Flat” and “Matte” at one time were used interchangeably, but not any more. Matte finishes have grown in popularity and quality over the years in response to designers and consumers desiring less shiny walls that can still have enough durability to be cleaned and rubbed up against without leaving marks. As a result, matte finishes have gotten some shine added to them, and the amount of shine can vary wildly depending on the paint manufacturer. SNL Painting uses matte on the majority of the walls we paint as its quality and versatility have given us the green light to use it most anywhere.

3-Eggshell Paint Finish

Recommended for hallways, stairwells, kitchens, powder rooms, bathrooms, and bedrooms. Works anywhere, but be wary as some eggshell finishes have become more shiny in recent years. Eggshell used to be the go-to finish for all areas before “matte” finish became durable enough to knock it out of the top spot. In the late ‘90’s and early 2000’s eggshell reigned supreme as the wall finish of choice, and is still extremely popular and versatile. You can find the eggshell sheen also labeled as “low lustre,” and “velvet” depending on the manufacturer. Eggshell has a slight angular sheen, can be more durable than matte depending on manufacturer and level of quality chosen.

4-Satin Paint Finish

The original eggshell finish. Back in the day there was flat, satin, and gloss…look at those sheen levels like the primary colors. All other sheens are merely mixes of those three. We could even go as far as all sheens are merely a mixture of flat and gloss with satin being a 50/50 mix of the two! Flat on the ceiling, satin on the walls, and gloss on the trim was the standard prescription for your home. Family rooms, hallways, kids’ bedrooms, bathrooms, and foyers are ideal for adding an easy-to-clean satin paint finish. This type of paint finish is highly durable and has a moderately shiny luster, and to this day if extra durability is desired, go with a satin finish. Satin finishes are more prone to reveal unsightly brush strokes, roller texture, and will show wall imperfections more than the other types of paint listed above. Enjoying beautiful satin paint finish walls is only a sure thing when carefully applied by experienced professional painters like the qualified painters at SNL Painting Inc. in St. Louis MO. Most of the satin paint we install is in kitchens and bathrooms.

5-Semi-Gloss and Gloss Paint Finish

Semi-gloss and Gloss are for trim, mantles, doors, frames, windows, baseboards, crown moulding, and built-in shelves, and we will refer to both as semi-gloss for the purposes of this post. Semi-gloss provides a very hard finish with a good amount of shine, and we only use semi-gloss on walls when the client likes shiny walls and has declined our advice to use satin on an interior application. Most exterior applications will be labeled “gloss,” but will semi-gloss and gloss will be comparable in sheen for the most part, again depending on the manufacturer and quality of the paint chosen. When using semi-gloss for horizontal surfaces such as mantles and built-in shelves, look for its level of “block resistance” or “blocking.” Have you ever picked something up from a mantel or built-in shelf and had it sort of stick to the surface? The higher block resistance or “resistance to blocking” and paint has, the less things will stick to the surface. Latex (water based) semi gloss paints are also frequently used on handrails and wall caps, and if a lesser grade semi gloss is chosen, skin oils will destroy a highly-touched surface in short order. When your paint surface becomes “gummy” and can easily be scraped off with a fingernail, it does not get along with skin oils. There are water based semi-gloss paints on the market today with urethane technology built into them that are much more resistant to skin oils than in years past. Be sure to ask your contractor about the differences, as like the other sheens, not all semi-gloss paints are created equal!

4-High-Gloss Paint Finish

Bling! Aside from being harder to find than the above sheens, high-gloss paints are shine-y! The paints that look wet even when dry are in the high-gloss category. Accent pieces such as mantles, handrails, and the occasional front door may receive a high-gloss paint, and high gloss will be the hardest finish when cured. These are used sparingly and are difficult to apply because they will show every brush stroke and imperfection in the substrate. High-gloss pieces should stand out when complete as an attention-grabbing showpiece. Occasionally you will find a whole study painted in high-gloss for a dramatic effect. Expect to pay more for this kind of finish due to the prep work and skill required to produce a nice looking result.

Types of Wall Textures

Options in the application and use of paint textures are only limited by the imagination. Textures on walls can achieve a vast range of effects. For instance, textured paint can have a gritty, rough look that produces a rustic effect. The following simply names a few of the many types of wall textures, some of which can be achieved by adding the texture to the paint, some must be applied prior to painting:

  • Crows’ feet
  • Popcorn
  • Stomp brush
  • Orange peel
  • Comb
  • Knockdown, which is similar to stucco
  • Sand swirl

With teams of professional painters offering residential and commercial exterior and interior painting, SNL Painting Inc. is known for providing the some of the best in custom painting in the St. Louis area. We specialize in applying and repairing all types of wall textures and high-quality paint finishes. Customer service is a top priority, which means that we are more than happy to help you through picking the best sheen, paint quality, and help pick your paint colors in addition to providing top-quality interior and exterior painting services. Give SNL Painting Inc. a call today at (636) 724-6829.




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