Learn more below about different paint sheens and tips for choosing the right paint for your home.
Is there a general rule to choosing paints with sheen vs. matte?
There are a few factors to consider when selecting sheen – the condition of your walls, the main function of the room, and the aesthetics or mood you are aiming to create. The sheen selected can serve a functional purpose, but it can also act as a design detail that will tie together other elements in a room. One of the first considerations when evaluating sheen is the extent of preparation that will go into the painting project. Walls should always be prepped to fix any wall imperfections, but this is kicked up a notch when using a semi-gloss or high gloss finish on the walls. The reason is in reflectance – a higher gloss level will be quite shiny, which will highlight any wall imperfections. Likewise, a matte or flat finish is much more forgiving as there is less reflectance and less potential for drawing attention to less-than-perfect walls.
Are sheens and mattes better for certain rooms than others?
While Benjamin Moore paints are formulated for excellent durability in all sheens, often the aesthetic quality of one sheen over another may be appropriate for a given room. For example, a higher sheen like semi-gloss or high-gloss may be more formal or dramatic, while an eggshell finish may provide a very soft gloss that lends itself well to hallways or the entry of a home. In some instances we have technology that breaks the ‘old rules’ on sheen such as with Aura® Bath & Spa. Traditionally, rooms that were subject to humidity and moisture were recommended to use a higher gloss level like a satin. However with Aura® Bath & Spa, it is possible to use a rich matte finish on the wall while still withstanding the impact of humidity and moisture.
It is also possible to use multiple sheen or gloss levels in one room. For example, a wall may be painted in a matte finish to create a soft, velvety look with millwork and trim painted in a semi- gloss or high-gloss. This provides a nice contrast and may call more attention to architectural details in a room.
What is the effect of paints with sheen in a room?
The way a wall color appears in terms of sheen hinges on light and reflectance. Imagine a room painted in a deep color, like navy blue. When the sheen level is high such as with a semi-gloss or high-gloss finish, the color will appear slightly lighter due to light reflecting from the surface – think about light bouncing off of a mirror. On the other hand, a matte finish will reflect light in a diffuse manner, resulting in the color appearing slightly darker. Of course this also depends on the amount of light in the room, and the look you are hoping to achieve.
Are there tips for choosing the right shade of white?
When shopping for a white paint color, comparing the undertones of white will help in making a final decision. When viewed in isolation, one white hue may be very comparable to the next, however when the colors are overlapped the undertone of the color will become more apparent. Some white options may have a tinge of pink or blue, while others have a yellow or blue cast. By understanding the different undertones of a color it becomes far easier to select the right white to complement any other colors being used in a room.
What should you consider about the tone? Warm vs. cool in a room? What are the effects of each?
When contemplating which color to use, an easy first step is determining how dark or light you want the color to be, and then the color family that best suits your tastes and existing décor. Often people gravitate toward particular color families, or warm versus cool colors – selecting colors is very subjective so making selections that reflect your taste and personality often leave to rooms with the best end results. Generally speaking, the color wheel is split between warm and cool colors so warmer colors are often associated with being cozy and welcoming, while cooler colors are tranquil or may create a greater sense of space since warm colors advance and cooler colors recede. When it comes to whether a color should be dark or light, the decision often depends on personal taste - or comfort level when using a darker color. In rooms where natural light is abundant, darker colors can be great color contenders – something we have been seeing a lot of recently with better understanding of how deep color works in a variety of spaces. Light colors are certainly a safe choice, and can create a very calming atmosphere, whether a warm or cool color. To make the best decision for your home, always use a pint sample of the top colors you are considering, as it will provide a realistic sense of what the final color will look like under your lighting conditions.