If you’ve ever painted, renovated or built a home, you would have heard the terms like Flat / Matt, Low Sheen, Eggshell, Gloss & Satin. But what does that mean?
For example, you may have just rendered the outside of your home. The beautiful render finish looks like stone. This is Matt. The shine is very low & it looks flat, so if you are painting over the top, you would want Matt, not shiny. This is the same for raw timbers, exposed brick & heavily worn items. If you are working towards an Industrial, French Provincial, Naturalist or Shabby Chic look, these have much flatter textures.
However, if you love ultra modern, clean lines & slick-looking furniture, then a high-gloss look is desired. Gloss grabs your attention as light reflects off it, whereas matt, flat & low sheen recede into the background.
We all want to make it easier to clean our houses & the sheen level can really assist with this! The glossier the finish, the more durable & easier to clean. However, be aware that gloss finishes tend to show wipe & mop marks easily as any imperfection can be seen when the light reflects off it. This also means that if you are painting an item in high-gloss which is beat around the edges, this will highlight those imperfections.
Flat or Matt finishes are not easily washable, but does have great hiding power. This is why it is used for ceilings in houses, to better disguise ceiling joins in the plasterwork as the ceiling is barely cleaned in a house. Low Sheen, Satin & Gloss lie in between the two extremes.
Standard finishes in houses
Ceilings – FLAT/MATT (not washable but hides marks)
Walls – LOW SHEEN/EGGSHELL (washable but hiding power)
Kitchen & Bathroom Walls – can be LOW SHEEN or SATIN/SEMI-GLOSS
Trims & Doors – SATIN/SEMI-GLOSS, GLOSS, HIGH GLOSS
Cabinetry – SATIN/SEMI-GLOSS, GLOSS, HIGH GLOSS
Bathroom Ceilings – LOW SHEEN (so it is washable if you get mould or splashes)
Glossy finishes are more like a mirror, they reflect light. This may help with a small bathroom or darker space to help bring shine into the room. But as stated above, gloss does show imperfections & cleaning issues. High gloss cabinetry in a kitchen may show every fingerprint & breadcrumb. Satin or Semi-gloss is the alternative. This still has a sheen, just not as distinct as the gloss. Satin remains durable & also suits more design styles which are understated, such as Scandi or Country.
How to tell the difference
Most products will state their sheen levels on the label, but even easier – just look at it. Is it shiny? Is it dull? This is not just for paint colours, this also applies to laminate samples, flooring, fabrics & even tap ware. You can have a combination of sheen levels in a home, just consider where is best to use them. What would you like to draw attention to? What is the style you are after? And how do you plan to clean it?
Once you have an understanding of what look you are after & what you would like to feature, the sheen level of the finishes just falls into place.
For other great free Interior Design tips –
What is Contemporary Design? – http://www.onlineinteriordesigner.com.au/what-is-contemporary-design/
Environmental Design – http://www.onlineinteriordesigner.com.au/environmental-design/
How to get the Scandinavian Look – http://www.onlineinteriordesigner.com.au/scandi-style/
The Top Interior Design Elements – http://www.onlineinteriordesigner.com.au/the-top-interior-design-elements/
How to heat your home this winter –http://www.onlineinteriordesigner.com.au/how-to-heat-your-home-this-winter/
How to get the Industrial Look – http://www.onlineinteriordesigner.com.au/how-to-get-the-industrial-style/