03 December 2010

PIY Pointers: Finding your perfect paint finish

Walk the paint aisles of your local hardware shop and you're inundated with piles of options. Flat vs. semi-gloss? Eggshell vs. Satin? Matte vs. velvet? It's enough to make your head spin! Here's my quick guide to paint finishes for furniture painting (walls are a whole other story but the basics are the same). Keep in mind that different paint manufacturers can have different names for their finishes - but this should cover most of them.

First of all, before you even think about finish - you have to think about what kind of paint you want to use. Oh the oil vs. latex debate...I personally only paint with latex.  Why you ask? It's more environmentally friendly, smells better, it's easier to clean up (simple soap and water) and it dries quickly - which allows me to do more coats in less time. Oil is said to be slightly more durable in the long run, but I've never had a problem with latex, as long as you leave adequate curing time.

As always, paint finish is a personal preference, so use this for reference only. Here's my super simple guide to the pros and cons of latex paint finishes:

Flat - a matte finish with no sheen at all
Pros - hides knicks, dings and imperfections well
Cons - harder to clean, scuffs easily 

Melamine - a thick, smooth self-levelling finish with a low sheen 
*note: not every brand offers this but I quite liked using Rona's Latex Melamine finish on a chair I painted

Pros - thicker, self-levelling so it hides knicks and scratches, highly moisture resistant, subdued finish, easy to create nice even finish
Cons - stickier to paint with

Eggshell/Pearl - a smooth finish with a hint of sheen
Pros - easier to clean, nice subtle sheen, good balance between hiding imperfections and still being washable
Cons - Pearlized finish may not appeal to everyone

Satin/Silk/Velvet - a velvety finish with a touch of gloss
Pros - easier to clean, nice rich finish, good balance between hiding imperfections and still being washable
Cons - No real cons for me, easy to apply and gorgeous finish - this is my fave finish!

Semi-gloss - a high sheen finish
Pros - Higher durability, decorative style
Cons -  Magnifies inperfections in the furniture, more difficult to get an even finish, requires careful application

Gloss  - a super reflective, very high gloss finish
Pros - Modern, reflective look, can make a piece look expensive, stylish, maximum durability
Cons -  Highly magnifies imperfections, highly difficult to get an even finish, requires careful application, slightly stickier paint consistency

What's your fave finish my friends?

PS: Happy Friday!


  1. This is so interesting..I didnt know that there are so many kinds..I love reading those stuff:) Happy Friday, sweetie

  2. You are the best- I love how you make it seem so approachable-
    Have a great weekend L!

  3. Very helpful, Lenore! I usually paint with a semi or satin paint. I am dying to try a gloss finish but haven't gotten up the nerve. It would be fun to try something new. Have a great weekend!


Thanks so much for stopping by, I love reading all your comments! If you have a specific question, please email me at lhume1@mts.net. XO Lenore