It's time to vote on our 2017 photo contest! Vote for your favorite photos of the year here!

Paint: Flat or Semi?

Houston, United States(Zone 9b)

What finish do you prefer on your paints: flat or semi-gloss? Someone mentioned to me there is a "satin" finish but I'm not familiar with that. I grew up with semi-gloss in every room and did my last house in that.

But my new house has ALL flat and gosh you rub against it with anything and there's another permanent mark. I've heard it's the easiest to touch up---no difference in paint color over time. I've only used semi gloss and I can wipe it and I touch it up and still can't tell. But this new house also has a texture I don't care for and when I did my first room here in semi gloss the light reflects on each bump of the texture so you see it unlike in all the other rooms with flat.

All trim is in semi-gloss though of course. Just wondered what the standard was, if there is one.

Memphis, TN(Zone 7b)

If you've never used Satin or Eggshell - don't discount it. I put eggshell finish (slight sheen) in the room where my cat boxes are...and it cleans beautifully. No contest for me - I'll never paint flat again. I only use semi-gloss on woodwork. Too shiny for me on the wall.

By the way - I love Behr (home depot) and Sherwin Williams. Sherwin Williams has better colors in my opinion - but Behr paint is better to I take the SW swatch to Home Depot and they use their machine to mix the color I want!

Hope that helps.


Houston, United States(Zone 9b)

Cool-satin it is!

Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

I use eggshell finish on all the walls except kitchen and bath, on those walls I use semigloss. And when I do trim painting I generally use gloss or semigloss there, although my house now has some sort of flat paint on much of the trim and I haven't felt like redoing it.

Houston, United States(Zone 9b)

OHHHH flat paint on trim. I've never heard of that. What an undertaking it would be to change it all!

Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

I have no idea why it was done that way, but since the trim's the color I want it to be, I have very little energy to repaint all of it glossier! Way too time consuming for something that probably nobody who visits is going to notice (or care about).

Houston, United States(Zone 9b)


So true. I only notice minute details in my own home. I am such a perfectionist when it comes to my own paint which is why it takes me soooooo long to get it all done. But you are quite right no one else ever notices! Good thing for us. =)

Long Beach, CA(Zone 10a)

I change my art several times a year - for that reason I use flat can patch and then paint over the filled holes with flat paint and never tell there was a hole can't do that with anything but flat paint...I think the flat looks richer - that is why most interior decorators prefer it. I love high gloss paint for trim - cleans beautifully and lots of contrast. Semi-gloss for bathrooms and kitchen.

Colorado Springs, CO(Zone 6a)

A nightowl, old thread digger-upper here....:) I'm assuming you've already picked your poison...but I think it's an interesting conversation!

We just bought a house that needed all new coats of paint. Trim...walls...everything. So I've encountered this same issue Tir_na_nog very recently. The only thing that the paint store will tell you is semi gloss on kitchen and bathroom, like Cattknap and ecrane said.
I painted one bathroom in flat, because I bought one of the $1 oops cans at HD because I just didn't want to bother with 8 bucks for a bathroom hardly used. And to tell you the truth it looks like poo. Maybe because it's a very dull shade of beige, but I'm wondering why anyone would ever want to paint in flat. Cattknap it seems like maybe with a better color it could look great on walls?
I really do love satin for walls. Looks alive, but understated if you ask me.
And ecrane, I highly do not recommend painting all your trim!! We had to do it, because ours was all green. What an undertaking that was....:)

Long Beach, CA(Zone 10b)

I suggest a silk painting by art_n_garden- I have one over a indoor window in my kitchen and it looks like stained glass! I missed you Suz!

As for paint, I really like eggshell on the walls and semi-gloss on my trim. These wobbly Victorian lathe and plaster walls seem to show less bumps.

I see what you are sayin', Cat. I bet that you use really deep colors with the flat?

Colorado Springs, CO(Zone 6a)

Hahahaha that made my night. :) Good to see you around too!

Houston, United States(Zone 9b)

art n garden---I used to live in Springs. LOVED IT!

thanks for the tips all. I've gone with satin on walls and trim is semi-gloss. :)

Frankfort, KY

I am like ecrane. I use eggshell on the walls and semi- or satin gloss on my woodwork. Eggshell give you just enough sheen, and it is easier to clean than flat.

Colorado Springs, CO(Zone 6a)

Tirnanog that's neat. So far we love it too! Only been here about a year. Survived a winter and two summers and we're still here so....haha

Houston, United States(Zone 9b)

I found the winters much more mild than the north (Michigan). The snow would fall and seem to melt in almost the same day. The summers were awesome---it would be warm during the day but cool off to such temps at night you could open the window and enjoy the breeze. Our apartment pool was almost never used all summer because the water just never warmed up enough. It was awesome!

Colorado Springs, CO(Zone 6a)

We've had a pretty mild summer, compared to last. All of our windows are open right now, it's about 65 outside. I took a hike at 2 pm today and it was pleasant- a strangely cool day. Much better than Houston weather where I'm from!! And I agree, I expected the winter to be waaay worse than it was.

Houston, United States(Zone 9b)

Oh yes I'm not a fan of Houston weather---other factors brought us here. Love Texas but like the drier climate of San Antonio area.

Frankfort, KY

San Antonio was dry this year?

Houston, United States(Zone 9b)

Where I lived it typically got 30" of rain per year but it was under water restrictions most of last year.

Houston gets who knows how much rain---perhaps double but this year MORE rain than normal.

central, NJ(Zone 6b)

We bought our house 3 yrs ago and every room but 1 had flat paint and off white to boot! What a pain. Eggshell or satin is the way to go. Semi in kitchen, bath and kids rooms.

Willingboro, NJ

Painting time saver:

If you have started painting a room and have run out of time to finish. Wrap your bush with a few plastic bags, securing the tie ends around the handle of the brush. Will keep the brush or roller from drying out, til you are able to resume your project.

Hillsborough, NC(Zone 7b)

We do the same with celophane and then put in fridge.

Lombard, IL(Zone 5a)

Satin and eggshell are the same- low gloss, but good washability. I just bought a new house and in the process of repainting the rooms one-by one. Whoever painted it last did a pretty crappy job of prepping the walls beforehand, so there's rough spots and fuzz embedded in the paint, a complete PIA to fix and exacerbated by the fact that the entire house was painted with a semi-gloss/high gloss paint. I'll be glas when that project is done.

Good Luck!

Hillsborough, NC(Zone 7b)

What do you have to do to paint over that high gloss finish? Do you have to wash with something to roughen up?

I use flat..I think creamier, richer wall and hides the flaws well.

Semi for trim

Behr flat scrubs ( well not "scrub" but gentle washes clean with grandkids prints) Also every so ofen I go around with a sponge lightly dipped in the paint and "pat" The walls where needed. blends real well. Don't think that would work with semi or the satin -& brush and sponge pats would be more visible.

Rosamond, CA(Zone 8b)

I think flat acrylic paints are more scrubbable than paint from the 70's and 80's flat's were. I think less lustre is the trend for walls but I prefer satin, it has a little sheen but scrubs pretty well. I like semi-gloss for trims, all acrylic paints though, enamels are harder, I think. I painted with semi-gloss for my kitchen cabinets, with some old school paint called milk paint on part of it, that you apply urethane or wax to, to protect it.

Stroudsburg, PA(Zone 6a)

I use satin paint to paint most of my walls. It does clean easier. I just wanted to include a picture of a hallway in my home that is interesting as far as finishes go.
I painted the hallway with stripes. The interesting thing is both stripes are exactly the same color. The difference is that one stripe is a flat finish and one is a semi-gloss. Sort of tone on tone, so to speak. The finish really does change the way the color appears on the wall.

Thumbnail by rteets
Hillsborough, NC(Zone 7b)

Rteets - my sis did the exact thing with her daughters new apt wall. Looks like same color too. It looked very sophisticated on livingroom with a velvety green sofa- and great with a Christmas tree in front of it! Almost pearl-like.

Conneaut Lake, PA

Oh, I just simply have to chip in here to tell you about a house we purchased. Picture this: open front door to front hall with stairs up on left side...everything painted the same...down hall, stairway and upper hallway. ...ready? IN KERNIT THE FROG GREEN !! There just had to have been a big "oops" sale. Oh,my...

Hillsborough, NC(Zone 7b)

That takes guts -- after the first stroke --they had to keep going. 🎧 It ain't easy being green 🎶

Post a Reply to this Thread

Please or sign up to post.