When Considering Interior Paint and Sheens


If you have been to your local paint store or department at a big box store, you would see the wide variety of paints and sheens that you can choose from. One paint manufacture will have at least two dozen coating systems just for interior surfaces. Often we are left to depend on the salesman behind the counter, sometimes, leaving more confused than when we came in. In this article I will answer three of the most common question I get when giving an interior painting estimate. Hopefully it will help you when choosing the right interior paint.

Is flat paint washable?

  • I have yet applied a flat finish paint that is washable. Though some manufactures claim having a washable flat finish, it is usually missing one or two key factors: one being a true flat finish and second it truly being washable. If it is washable most likely it will be at least a “matte” finish. This is a finish that looks flat when looking directly at the surface but has a sheen at a angler view. If it is a true flat finish it is mostly likely not washable. You will notice that manufactures will change the name from “washable” to “scrubbable” the flatter the sheen. Meaning the coating can handle more scrubs. Yes! They actually count the amount of scrubs before the coating breaks down. Count one is a single up and down scrub. Wash-ability is different than scrub-ability and they mean just what they say.

Is eggshell a color or a finish?

  • Though some manufactures have a color named “Eggshell”. This is also a term for a low-sheen paint on many, if not all, manufacture labels. The eggshell paint film once cured has a low sheen. It can handle more traffic than a flat finish. It is also washable along with scrub-able. It is ideal for homes with children and/or pets. An eggshell finish can also be applied in wet areas such as kitchens, bathrooms and laundry rooms.

What are the different sheens?

  • All manufactures’ sheens and wording vary from one another. The higher the sheen the more scrubable and washable. The higher the sheen the more light reflects. The lower, the more light is absorbed. Not to confuse you I will give you an example of one manufactures wording of sheens. Other manufactures will have similar wording and sheens will differ from one another. Benjamin Moore Paints Sheens; from low to high, Flat, Matte, Satin, Low Sheen, Eggshell, Pearl, Semi Gloss to a High Gloss.

Whether you are DIYer or hiring a professional contractor, I hope this will help you when considering paint and sheens on your interior painting project. Feel free to comment below with any questions or comments.

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