There are many different finishes to choose from these days, just as there are many different surfaces to paint. Paint has come so far over the past 10 years, so it can be very confusing for the customers (and sometimes the contractors, but we consider ourselves very educated in these matters). The reasons for certain finishes can also change the products we shall use. You may have a large open area in direct light that shows every wall imperfection, or you may have handprints on walls from children, the dog could be brushing against the walls after a swim in the pond, the walls or trim may not be as washable as you like it to be. Whatever the reason or the need, there is a finish for you. I can help with the process with pleasure, but I will give you a few pointers where to help in your decisions. Many painters take it for granted you will know these things, but unless you’re knowledgeable in the many options it is hard to make an educated choice. First off, eggshell is a finish and not a color! This is, in my opinion, the number one assumption people make “I want my walls an eggshell color, can you do that?” There are 4 primary finishes we at One Stop use. They are Flat, Eggshell, satin, and semi gloss. – Each with different characteristics and uses.
Flat Finish; (matte) This has no glare or reflection of light. It is commonly used on ceilings and closets. It is also great for new construction as well, for several reasons. When painting the walls flat they can be touched up with ease, so by the time all the other contractors have banged their way through your new house, we can fix it easily. If an eggshell was chosen, the entire wall, and usually room, would have to be redone, as it would not blend well. Flat hides imperfections on walls and if you’re in direct sunlight, an uneven wall will look its best with a flat finish to avoid drawing your eyes to any problems with surface. Flat is not washable, but it touches up well; you must decide what is best for your needs.
Eggshell Finish; (low luster) This is used when walls are going to require cleaning, such as where pets or children may be bumping or touching. It has a low sheen level and is washable to a degree (please remember washing lightly is one thing, scrubbing vigorously will wear through any coating, washable or not!) Eggshell will not touch up well, and often flashes (shows area touched up) and requires entire wall to be redone more often than not. But for light cleaning it works well.
Satin Finish; (my favorite) This one has a bit higher sheen level, but is a bit more washable than an eggshell finish. We feel it also provides a better base for any faux painting. You can use this on walls and some trim, though I do not like to see it used on trim, semi—gloss is more appropriate.
Semi-Gloss Finish; This is used primarily on trim and is highly washable finish. You can use it on walls, in some instances, and yes, it will be more washable and even scrub able-but with its higher sheen level it also will show every little imperfection on a surface, so choose wisely if you’re considering this as a wall finish.
Mildew Resistant Coatings: Yes, there are now paints designed for kitchens and baths to reduce mildew (they call them kitchen and bath, but truly who gets mildew in the kitchen, you would need some very dirty dishes to be done by hand, I guess) But these coatings do resist mildew growth, it will not stop it, but it shall greatly reduce the occurrences and we in truth, have not had to return yet for mildew on a surface we have coating with this product to date. We have been applying them for well over 7 years now. They are water based products. We have applied them in bathrooms, kitchens, hallways, and even basements to date, with great success. They look very nice on ceilings as well. The finish is available in either satin or semi gloss; we use the satin 99% of the time on everything.
Gloss Finish: This of course is the highest shine available, it is several steps above the semi gloss, and usually I will steer customers away from it. It can look very nice in some instances, I must say we have only applied gloss finishes maybe 4 times over the years, it is not for everyone but if you really and truly want an extra shiny finish, it can look good. Downsides include every, and I mean EVERY imperfection will show up so you either need a perfect surface, you allow extra time and money for extensive prep, or you realize you will see things such as imperfections or seams in wood that a semi gloss would down play.
Water Based VS Oil: Most paints we use are water based, oil have been going the way of the dinosaurs and are close to extinction. There is a but here, BUT, some trims such as Satin Impervo by B.Moore do have some nice qualities to them. We prefer the water based paints, and the look is almost identical if done properly. Oil is a self leveling product so it hides brush marks, but at one stop, we use nicer brushes, and combined with experienced painters it is not a major issue with the latex paints. We also prefer to spray our woodwork when possible, virtually eliminating brush marks altogether (no brush means no brush marks). The biggest difference is the cure time, latex will be dry to the touch after several hours but takes up to 30 days to cure (fully harden) where as oil takes a bit longer to dry (stays wet and tacky for over 8 hours, sometimes longer) but it cures in 48 hours. We know when to use and when not to of course, our issues become dust or foot traffic around oil paint, this usually spells trouble. But when painting kitchen cabinets, the shelves if done cannot be stacked up for several weeks with latex, but oil the next day. We can discuss this matter in depth for your particular needs, I am probably just confusing the issue with out be able to answer any questions you may have while reading this.
Other little tid-bits of knowledge regarding paints…
Did you know oil paints turn yellow over time? Most wood work is done with oil based polyurethane over the oil stain and it will gradually yellow as well, making new stain look different? This is more noticeable if you choose a pickled white stain and do not use a water based urethane over it, the yellow looks dramatically different over the white and is also noticeable on pickled furniture from the late 80′s early 90′s. We use acrylic urethanes and paint’s to avoid this occurrence when possible. There are now self priming coatings for the outside of your homes, and they offer a life time warranty (don’t believe everything you read, they will last longer, but nothing lasts forever) There are companies that apply spray on liquid vinyl coatings that allegedly last a life time, they are not paint (Hmm, you choose from a fan deck, the basic ingredients are titanium dioxide and acrylic binders, and it is done by brush and spray….but it is not paint, OKAYY!) My mom always told me, if it sounds too good to be true…it probably isn’t. One thing painting in New England teaches you, is nothing will last forever. We paint many vinyl and aluminum houses as well. I am a virtual storing house for coating advice in New England, it has taken many years to accumulate, and I feel it is very important when hiring a painter!