All About Paint: A Quick Guide to Finishes and Primer

Jun 13, 2012

“What kind of finish works best in this room?” is a question our painting contractors hear quite often. To help our customers in and around Roswell, GA figure out the best product for their rooms, here is a quick guide to the different kinds of finishes.

There are four main types of paint finishes: Flat, Eggshell (also known as Satin), Semigloss and High-Gloss, all offering different benefits.

Flat – Flat finishes are great because they don’t reflect light, therefore they don’t show imperfections on the wall. However, flat paint doesn’t wash very well, so we always suggest using it in low-traffic areas such as bedrooms, dining rooms and foyers. Photo of a painted dining room

Eggshell or Satin – The slight sheen in an eggshell finish makes it easy to clean with warm water, mild dish soap and a soft cloth. This makes it an ideal choice for family rooms, hallways and mudrooms. Flat and Eggshell finishes are much less likely to show ‘lap marks,’ so they are generally easier to apply and touch-up than higher sheen paints.

Semigloss – A little shiner, semigloss is great for window casings, crown molding baseboards and doors. It’s incredibly easy to wash, so fingerprints wipe right off.  Higher sheen paints have better moisture resistance, which makes them ideal for surfaces and areas that are frequently exposed to high humidity levels.

High-Gloss – With its bright, shiny finish, High-Gloss paint shows off every nick and crack. A lot of prepwork goes into using this paint, and it’s recommended to use a painting contractor to skim coat the wall first so it will be perfectly smooth before you put the paint on. Higher sheen paints usually need to be sanded, de-glossed or primed prior to repainting to ensure good adhesion of the new paint.

Trying to figure out if you need primer? It’s a good idea to use primer if you’re painting a surface that’s never been painted before, like drywall or raw wood, if you’re painting a wall with greasy spots, you’re painting a light color over a dark color, or using a supersaturated color, like cherry red. You typically don’t need primer when you’re painting a clean white wall or if you’re painting a dark color over a very light color.

Whether you’re a painting newbie or a seasoned veteran, it’s always a good idea to freshen up on the different options available, especially if it’s been a while since you’ve painted. Don’t hesitate to give Three Brothers Painting a call so we can come out and give you a free, no-hassle estimate.

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