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When you specify paint as a designer, there are a CRAZY number of things you need to determine!
  • Finish
  • Color
  • Brand
  • Type (Latex, Oil Based, etc.)

Sometimes you may not know exactly how detailed your specification needs to be. I mean, the home may be 100 years old and who knows what types of paints have been used?! Those times, you need to partner with the painter and figure it out together. What specifications will help the painter?

The painter often worries about the color and “finish” the most. How do you determine the “right” paint finish? Each manufacturer calls the finish by a different name, so it is often confusing.  There are five basic finishes for paint and I have listed them from the least to the most shine.

Five basic finishes

  1. Flat (or Matte)
  2. Eggshell
  3. Satin
  4. Semi-Gloss
  5. Gloss (or High Gloss)

Are there rules?

Are there rules?  Well, sort of.  Flat paint has no shine and looks great, but somehow it becomes a magnet for finger prints and dog nose marks.  I wouldn’t recommend using it in a kid’s room unless you love doing touch ups- or combine the flat paint with some wainscoting painted in a higher gloss finish! Flat paint does provide the most coverage which means that light will be absorbed by the paint and not reflect off like a shiny paint. So, any imperfect walls (read dings from dragging chairs down the hallway) will not show their imperfections as much.

Gloss or semi-gloss paint is very forgiving in the finger print department.  You can usually wipe away prints and even grease which make it ideal for kitchen cabinets and millwork like wainscoting, trims and baseboard.  When using gloss or semi-gloss paint, your painter must do their prep work!  Every flaw will shine in your client’s eyes. So, be sure to use a painter who has experience in high gloss before specifying it:)

When you finally determine what sheen you want to specify, make sure the manufacturer calls the sheen by that name. I always double check my fan decks, because in the front of the paint “fan” you have the sheen leaves, which will tell you the names of the sheens!


Selecting the Best Paint Finish

Click Here to Get Guide to Selecting the Best Paint Finish!