A Fabulous Finish

Gone are the days when painting your house meant grabbing the first pot of magnolia you could find! These days there are so many types of paint on offer that picking one can actually be quite daunting.

Paint finishes are just as important as colour, so it’s important to know your silk finish from your wipe down when choosing yours. A general rule of thumb is that matte paints are best for low-traffic areas while glosses are better for high-traffic rooms or those that are exposed to high-levels of moisture and/or humidity. The majority of shop bought paints are water based, which is by far and away the best choice for DIY jobs, as they have little to no odour and are far easier to clean up.

Choosing the right paint finishes for your home depends on what and where you’re painting, but here’s a quick guide:

  • Satin, velvet and silk paint finishes are ideal for high-traffic rooms.
  • Gloss paint finishes are good for bathrooms, kitchens and high-traffic areas, as well as detail work.
  • Wipe down paint finishes do exactly what it says on the tin – great for homes with pets and small children.
  • Bathroom paint finishes are designed to resist moisture.
  • Kitchen paint finishes are designed to be grease resistant.
  • Flat paint finishes have the least shine.
  • Matte paint finishes actually have a very slight sheen and are therefore more durable than flat.
  • Specialist textural paint finishes can create a bold feature wall.

So read on for more information…

Satin, velvet and silk paint finish

Annie Sloan – Satin Paint in Knightsbridge Green and Pointe Silk Piranesi Pink and Adelphi Wall Paint

These finishes are similar enough to be interchangeable and are often described as ‘mid sheen’ paints. They’re more durable than matte paints but have a more subtle finish than gloss.

They’re ideal for painting kitchen cabinets and skirting boards in low traffic areas. They’re also a great solution for small or dark rooms as the reflective qualities play up the available light.

If you do want to paint your bathroom in a mid-sheen finish then you should be OK, but shower rooms, where there’s plenty of steam, may be a little too much for these paints.


Limewash, Habitat

Limewash is a classic paint that has been used in homes for centuries. Made from lime and water, and available ready-made, it has a matte finish and can be coloured with natural pigments giving it an almost glowing look. Not only is it easy to apply, but it also has a natural, raw quality that creates a velvety, mottled effect on walls, helping to bring depth and character to interiors.

Gloss paint finish

As its name suggests, gloss paint has a glossy finish, with a high sheen and a reflective quality, bouncing light off the surfaces. Because of the high sheen and durability, gloss paint is the traditional choice for trim, balustrades, doors and other such areas. It’s a great way to create a feeling of lightness and space in a room.

It has excellent durability, but can be a little too shiny for some people’s tastes.

Wipe down, Bathroom and Kitchen Paint Finish

To cater for people who want durability without the high shine finish, interiors stores now stock a variety of specialist finishes. Wipe down paint has been available for a while, and comes in a variety of finishes from matte to gloss. This paint is extremely tough and durable and can be cleaned, usually with soap and water (see manufacturer’s recommendations for cleaning). It’s perfect for muddy dogs, easily scuffed areas and artistic toddlers.

Like wipe down paint, bathroom paint is very durable, but has been specifically formulated to withstand areas of high humidity without bubbling, cracking or peeling. You can wipe down painted surfaces with a cloth after a steamy shower and the water will simply bead up and roll off. This is great for people who want a tough and durable finish but prefer a softer look.

Kitchen paint is relatively new on the market and, like wipe down paint, is tough and easy to clean. However, unlike traditional wipe down finishes, this paint has been designed to resist grease, making it ideal for going around the oven.

Flat paint finish

Dead Flat Farrow & Ball

With the lowest level of sheen, flat paint finishes are a fantastic choice for period homes as the lack of shine hides any imperfections in centuries old walls. They are however most unforgiving of marks and stains, and can’t be wiped down without streaking. As such they should be used in low traffic areas and on ceilings.

Matte paint finish

Matte paint finishes are one of the most popular choices for interior walls and ceilings, particularly in living rooms, as they have the same qualities as flat paint, but are slightly more durable.

Specialist paint finish

Of course, you aren’t just limited to traditional paint finishes; there are lots of specialist paint finishes that will bring unique character to your home. From paints with glitter to add a touch of glamour, to metallic and suede emulsions for added pizazz, to blackboard paints to give the kids a worry free outlet for their creativity, there are myriad options to help you craft a statement in your home.

Distemper for older homes

Chalk Paint, Annie Sloan

Distemper is a heritage interior paint and an early form of whitewash made of water, chalk, pigment and a bonding agent like egg or casein. Highly breathable, it is a great choice of paint for older properties and has a soft, powdery finish. However, it is worth noting that distemper is not particularly hardwearing, so is best avoided in high-traffic areas.

Distemper provides a soft, deep matte finish ideally suited to bedrooms, living rooms and dining areas. It is a high opacity, low odour, chalky matte finish, that is available in a wide choice of colours.

Chalk paint finishes

Chalk paint is most commonly used in furniture upcycling projects. People often think it’s called chalk paint because chalk is a key ingredient, but it’s actually because of how the paint looks. Its luxurious, textured finish and the depth of pigment give upcycling projects a high-end feel.

Although there are certain paints that ‘work’ better in certain areas, at the end of the day, the finish you choose is down to personal preference, so spend some time researching what’s available and let your personal style shine through.

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