She feels an instant migraine coming on.
Then Sheena whips out her phone and gets on pinterest and finds a chart that says that the walls should never be anything with less sheen than SATIN and that for high traffic areas, you should always use SEMI-GLOSS.
High traffic, meaning, the entry, the halls, bathrooms, kitchen, mudroom, laundry room, kid’s rooms.
And “Oh hell,” thinks Sheena looking at the time and realizing that she has exactly 30 minutes to get back home before the bus pulls up with her 5-yr-old triplets.
I guess I might as well get everything in semi-gloss and that way it will last longer. I’ll probably save some money not having to purchase a different paint sheen for this and that.
I can hear you designers out there snickering…
And that is… because we’ve all come into a home for the first time and seen walls that are painted in a satin or semi-gloss finish; it’s not a pretty sight.
Fast forward two weeks later. Sheena and her husband, the triplets and her 18 month old son come back from their 10-day vacation in Turks and Caicos. Sheena is so excited to see the freshly painted house—
Instead she gasps in horror.
Not only does it all look like a plastic gloppy mess, but every little imperfection stands out like an arrogant purple pimple on the tip of one’s nose on prom night.
Sheena calls the painter in a blind panic.
Well, m’am, my job is to paint not tell you you’re making a mistake.
Geeezzz, the first time in the history of house painters did he not open his yap when he should have!
Sorry, that was highly inappropriate and rude. But my experience has been that house painters are often fond of giving out advice to my clients without discussing it with me first. Not all. But too often.
Sheena then calls the paint store dude.
Sorry, ma’am, it’s not my place to question your sheen and you didn’t ask.
That’s right, she didn’t. And she could have. The guys who sell the paint are often more knowledgeable than the ones who do the painting. It’s not an absolute, but more the norm. Benjamin Moore does provide sale’s information to their vendors.
So, what Paint Sheen Should Sheena have Chosen?
If this was 15 years ago, 90% of my clients wanted to do egg-shell for the walls. Some did do the flat finish. I did flat. And it’s really fine. But, in the living room, I also had wainscoting and up the stairs because yes— without that the walls were a big bloody mess from little boys who use the wall as a handrail.
The wainscoting was painted with Pratt and Lambert Ancestral in semi-gloss and I loved it more than I can possibly say!
P&L doesn’t seem to have stayed up-to-date with the new technology of paint and it is difficult to get in some parts of where I live. So, I decided about 13 years ago to stick with Benjamin Moore.
The science of latex paint for some companies such as Benjamin Moore has come a long way since then.
Several years ago, Benjamin Moore came out with their Aura line and that is when the matte finish was introduced. Matte is also available in Regal Select.
And it is washable.
Another issue with using a shiny paint sheen for the walls is something called flashing.
No, silly not that kind of flashing.
Above (with the help of picmonkey), is an example of paint flashing. It most commonly occurs when new paint is painted over old paint and you can see it as lighter or darker than the original color.
It is usually more obvious with shinier paint.
The matte paint does not usually flash and to prove this, I did a little experiment.
I pulled the drape aside to put the paint in a place that is normally covered up in case it did flash.
- Paint inside my handy Paint Saint
- Loading on the paint and taking off the excess is so easy with My Paint Saint
- Applying the paint with My Paint Saint goes on like silk
- Right after showing the wet paint
- Three hours later. Paint is dry and with no flashing. (the lighting is different, but I couldn’t help that.) :]
For bathrooms with tubs and especially showers, you must use a paint formulated for bathrooms. Benjamin Moore Aura Bath and Spa Waterborn Alkyd interior paint is excellent for this.
The matte formulation is available in Aura or in Regal Select. Both are zero VOC. Mine is Regal Select. It covers beautifully. No more than two coats. And priming is not necessary. Well, that’s what they say. My walls were painted over three years ago and so far so good.
You can use egg-shell, but if you really want a velvety flat finish for your walls, then matte is the way to go.
You can use matte for the ceiling if it’s the same color but generally, I always use flat.
Yes, thank you in the back row. I’ll be taking questions later.
This used to be a no-brainer. I ALWAYS specified the Satin Impervo Alkyd which is a fancy word for oil-based paint.
Then, the EPA got all nuts like we’re bathing in it and decided to take our oil paint away in New York. I think you can still get it, but maybe not in large quantities.
About six years ago, Benjamin Moore came out with their ADVANCE FORMULATION as an answer to this issue. And that is because there IS a difference between oil and latex. Oil is oil and latex is plastic.
The Advance formulation is a “waterborne” “alkyd.” (sounds like an oxymoron to me, but I’ll take it at face value.) It is cleanable with soap and water, unlike oil which requires a solvent to clean up. But Advance levels like oil and it has the longer drying time like oil. And it won’t yellow. I did not have any issues with that, but many insist that oil yellows over time.
Advance is available in high gloss, satin and primer, with semi-gloss soon to be added. It’s offered in quarts, gallons; MSRP: $44.99 per gallon. (from the Benjamin Moore Website)
I had the Pratt and Lambert oil all over my old home for 18 years and it stayed true to color.
I guess BM has come out with the semi-gloss in Advance. It actually looks wet there in the photo.
This effect is achieved by alternating a flat paint sheen with gloss and it’s the same color. How cool is that!
This is a front door painted in the Aura formulation in gloss. Aura is not the same as Advance.
It’s more like traditional latex. I don’t mind this slightly rough appearance on an exterior door; it gives a feeling of age if it’s not too excessive. There are a few things that can help if it’s getting out of hand and too gloppy. And that goes for interior moulding as well.
The prep work needs to be super thorough. You need a smooth unblemished surface to begin with.
With thicker viscosity paint like Aura or Regal Select you can use a little Floetrol to help with the leveling and minimize brush marks.
This might require some experimentation.
DO NOT USE FLOETROL WITH ADVANCE; IT IS ALREADY VERY THIN AND FLOETROL WILL RENDER IT UNUSABLE!
What if the trim is already painted in either oil or latex?
It really depends on a few things. If there’s a ton of paint on it, it might be better to start afresh. If it’s only one or two paintings, you should be fine to use the Advance whether it is currently oil or latex. I always do recommend a good sanding before applying paint to trim to keep it crisp.
What if I don’t want a shiny finish on my trim such as shiplap?
Then, it is fine to do satin or eggshell. If you desire a very chalky finish, you could also try the matte formulation. OR, you could try something like Annie Sloan chalk paint.
I want a shiny finish. Can I do semi or high gloss on the walls?
Yes, absolutely. I would reserve this for dark rich colors. but just know that the shinier the paint, the more the imperfections will show.
And one other thing to be mindful of and that is the opposite occurring with dark colors if using a matte paint finish.
It might chalk which sounds just like what it is. If you brush up against the wall, it’ll leave a light chalky mark. Yuck. So, with very, very deep browns, charcoals, navies and blacks, it might be safest to do egg-shell. However, I’m not 100% sure about that. Has anyone done the matte finish with a deep, deep color? If so, how does it hold up?
My walls are mid-darkish color and they do not chalk in the matte finish.
Can I do a high gloss paint as a kind of poor man’s glass-like lacquer?
Well, yes, but no, but yes. Yes, because you can certainly use it for a shiny wall which definitely looks great with deep colors in a more formal room. But no, because it is not lacquer. That is a completely different process.
This is an excellent post from Jack Pauhl about how a professional painter has gotten superb results with Benjamin Moore Advance. However, it’s not a DIY job.
Bottom line with the advance. There is a steep learning curve when using it. One can get superb results, but it takes practice and figuring out what works and doesn’t work. Information can be gotten from Benjamin Moore about all of that.
This finish on the wainscoting, trim and doors is most likely either Advance or in traditional oil.
These walls look to be lacquered. There is a greater depth and richness I think.
Photo: Heather Clawson
To recap. For me, it’s usually flat on the ceiling, matte on the walls and semi-gloss on the trim. But satin is fine too.