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Old 09-18-2011, 08:23 PM   #1
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What's the difference in paints?


In the process of remodeling my house & I'm stuck on what type of paint to use for each room. I have some basic understanding, but not enough to make a wise decision. Can someone tell me what the difference is between Flat, Flat Enamel, Eggshell Enamel, Satin Enamel, Semi-Gloss Enamel, & Hi-Gloss Enamel.

Any help will be greatly appreciated! Thank You!

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Old 09-18-2011, 09:15 PM   #2
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What's the difference in paints?


I put paint sheen into google- here is one of the many answers i found.
if you need more- try it!

http://www.house-painting-info.com/p...#axzz1YS2F6NDL

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Old 09-18-2011, 09:42 PM   #3
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What's the difference in paints?


The following characteristics are general only. Different companies will vary with respect to all points. Even within one company, there can be differences between product lines. BM contractor grade sheens will have less sheen than their premium lines, for example. As to degree of difficulty, it's best to stick with the least difficult, the flatter, that you can get away with for the best possible results. I rarely ever roll semi on walls, but I dread it when I have to. If you have any further questions please ask.
Flats: Flats are generally wall and ceiling finishes. They reflect very little light, ranging from zero sheen (dead flat) to a slight angular sheen, so they're superior for hiding defects on surfaces. They're also the most forgiving to work with for the inexperienced. They do not clean well so they're not the best for areas that take a lot of abuse. They're also permeable to steam, so they'll fail in high moisture areas. Flats are best suited for ceiling and walls in formal LR's, DR's, master suites, etc. Unless in a steamy environ or for a decorative effect, ceilings should always be dead flat.
Flat Enamels: FE's mimic flats, but are film forming, so they are washable. They have a definite angular sheen, so they hide defects slightly less than flat. FE's can also be considered matte finish.
Eggshells: ES, as a step above FE, definitely have a sheen. They're good for areas like kitchens, hallways, playrooms that require frequent cleaning. They're boderline good for real steamy environments, but will do okay in a bath with adequate ceiling fans. They also mark the point in the sheens where difficulty in getting a uniform finish begins. Eggshells also mark the starting point in sheens for painting trim. My place has eggshell trim.
Satins: Satins are not exactly the best paint to use as a general wall finish. They're difficult to work with and get a uniform finish. You're also going to get texture flash where you patch your walls, as the satin will illuminate the difference between the existing wall surface and the patched areas. They're absolutely spec'd for steamy environs, washability, and for painting trim.
Semi-gloss: As with satins, semi's are generally not great general wall finishes. Unless you have a decorative need or a high degree of durability required, it's generally not a good choice for walls. They also throw a lot of light, meaning they highlight defects. They're excellent for high steam/moisture environments. They're also a general go-to sheen for trim.
Gloss and high gloss will generally give you enhanced characteristics of the sheen finishes. If you use them on subpar wall surfaces, you might as well paint orange arrows highlighting the defects. They're also very difficult to work with as a wall finish. Most residential uses for these sheens are decorative only, and done right they can look great.

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Old 09-18-2011, 09:48 PM   #4
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What's the difference in paints?


I read brush's post and link after writing mine. I liked what the guy said about gloss keeps your eye moving, a term I plan to remember. When I said that semi's throw a lot of light around, the way he described it is perfect. In addition to highlighting defects, the amount of light bouncing between the walls keeps my eye moving alright, in a spastic fashion. IMO, any gloss above satin to too much for the eye, especially in a large room.
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Old 09-18-2011, 10:01 PM   #5
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What's the difference in paints?


And to make it more confusing- there are no standards of how much sheen a sheen name has. In fact some will call it satin, some will call it matte- might be similar sheen.
Helps to know what the paint you're using calls it.
And not all paints are borne equal. A cheap paint for the most part will perform like a cheap paint. Cost money to use good stuff.
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Old 09-18-2011, 11:47 PM   #6
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What's the difference in paints?


Quote:
Originally Posted by New@This View Post
In the process of remodeling my house & I'm stuck on what type of paint to use for each room. I have some basic understanding, but not enough to make a wise decision. Can someone tell me what the difference is between Flat, Flat Enamel, Eggshell Enamel, Satin Enamel, Semi-Gloss Enamel, & Hi-Gloss Enamel.

Any help will be greatly appreciated! Thank You!
The previous comments have come from an extremely knowledgeable, professional perspective.

On a practical level, I prefer to paint walls with either eggshell or satin sheen, despite the fact that a lot of people prefer flat. If I have to paint woodwork/trim, I tend to go semi-gloss.

If it's a bathroom, I might paint the walls in semi-gloss.


As a rule, the higher the sheen/gloss, the more imperfections you'll see.
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Old 09-19-2011, 01:36 AM   #7
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What's the difference in paints?


Benjamin Moore also has specialized paints for ceilings and for trim/door. I just got done painting my whole house and was happy with the products. A matte sheen gives certain rooms a real classy look also.
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Old 09-19-2011, 05:57 AM   #8
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What's the difference in paints?


Also, just to throw a wrench into the mix, SW and others have "luster" paints, such as low luster, which is supposed to be like an eggshell.
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Old 09-19-2011, 09:47 AM   #9
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What's the difference in paints?


The OP's original question may well have been adequately answered already - but to be more simplistic, one of the differences between a flat and a gloss is the various amonts of pigment and resin in each grade. One has more pigment, one more resin...

There are general guidelines to establish a common set of value to each grade; a flat grade will have a gloss reading from 0-5 on given scale, a semi-gloss will have a reading of 60-70 on the same scale...but each manufacturer interprets these scales differently, but technically, there is a direct relation between grades.

A flat grade will have a lot of fillers in it, and therefore it will be harder to wash clean given the nature of the fillers - talc, chalk and TiO2 which are minerals. On the other hand a glossier grade will have more hard, man-made plastic resins in it, therefore more suitable to clean.

Some of all that relates to diffraction of light too, so glossier paints will reflect surface variations better than flat would. But apart from those variations it's a matter of personal preference really.
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Old 09-24-2011, 10:11 AM   #10
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What's the difference in paints?


I am not an expert on paint however I would say your lifestyle and household also play into this. If you have young kids, dogs, any inhabitants that will brush against or otherwise dirty the walls the semi-gloss is really great stuff.

I only use semi-gloss because I have several dogs. A soft sponge will remove any dirt or other debri on the walls. Yes it does show imperfections, but I happen to enjoy grabbing the putty knife and filling in dents, then going over the whole wall lightly with sandpaper (sanding briefly doesn't take more than a couple of minutes for a medium size wall) to knock off any old paint dribbles/bumps.

Am currently painting a small old house that had a LOT of dings and marks in the walls from years of abuse, the walls aren't "perfect" but they look pretty darn good with semi-gloss after a little prep. Grant it semi-gloss on walls that have a lot of old paint glumps and dents does look pretty darn horrid, but that is just laziness on the part of the painters as is it so easy (and fun) to fix before painting.

Last edited by Sonya_; 09-24-2011 at 10:14 AM.
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Old 09-24-2011, 06:59 PM   #11
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What's the difference in paints?


New, the differences between the sheens is the amount and particulate size of silica that is added for the sheen. The finer the grind, the more the sheen/gloss. What makes a paint a better paint than another? The types of base used to make it, the least amount of clay filler in the formulation, the one that provides the thickest dry film after application. Some so called premium paints you see recommended on this board will not pass any Government testing and is not allowed on their jobs. Mostly due to clay filler and dry film thickness. Dry film thickness is what is left on the wall after the solvents/water, is gone. For exterior paints, a paint with a higher sheen will stay cleaner longer and look fresher longer. The amount of sheen is up to your personal tastes.
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Old 09-25-2011, 08:13 AM   #12
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What's the difference in paints?


Not entirely true; whereas 'silica' is indeed one of the mineral fillers used in some paints, it is by no means the only one. Talc, calcium carbonate, diatomaceous earth, clays and mica are just some of the others used in interior coatings to control gloss - as well as many other properties of a paint. Most are a bit less dangerous that silica in fact...

But some are 'silicates' - such as the clays. These are different minerals from silica and the two shouldn't be confused...

But it is true that the effects of the various mineral fillers does relate to the change in gloss level for a particular formulation; the more minerals you have, the flatter the gloss of the paint.

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