Flat paint is best used on ceilings and low traffic walls. Flat paint tends to absorb light, giving the room a soft hue. In addition, less reflective paint hides inconsistencies in the wall below.
However, flat paint is less durable than glossy paint. In a high traffic area, it’s best to use a glossy paint, which is usually more durable and easier to clean.
Not all flat paint is created equal. For instance, flat paint from Sherwin Williams might be “flatter” than paint from BEHR. Also, expensive paint is almost always more quality than cheap paint.
Let’s examine how flat paint compares to other finishes.
How Flat Compares to Different Paint Finishes
Flat paint is just one of the paint shines. There is a spectrum of paint shines. Though we each have our preferred looks, there are specific finishes that work for specific purposes.
The spectrum begins with a flat finish and travels up to high-gloss. Let’s take a look.
- Flat: The least shiny of the finishes. Flat doesn’t reflect as much light, making it a good choice when you need to hide imperfections.
- Matte: Matte is a bit more durable than flat paint. Where flat is good for ceilings, matte is a good finish for walls in your bedroom and living room.
- Eggshell: A very common choice for walls, especially in higher traffic areas, like entryways, playrooms, and child bedrooms.
- Satin: Satin is starting to have some shine. This coat works well for an area that requires a high level of durability. However, it will begin to show imperfections. Many consider satin for trim and bathroom ceilings.
- Gloss: Gloss will begin reflecting a lot of light. However, it’s also quite durable.
- High Gloss: Very shiny. Used primarily for exterior projects that require high visibility.
Alright, now that you’ve got an idea of how flat paint relates to other finishes; let’s discuss more specifics about flat paint.
Note: This is the general outline of finishes. Some finishes will vary between brands. Be sure you discuss the color and sheen spectrum with an expert in the store.
What are the Best Rooms for Flat Paint?
The best rooms for flat paint are those rooms that don’t take abuse to the walls. For example, bedrooms, livings rooms, and ceilings in general (With an exception of a bathroom ceiling).
Depending on your home environment and the potential for damage, you may be better off staying away from flat paint on the walls. In the next section, we will discuss some of the pros of flat paint, and then we will go over the cons.
Let’s jump in!
Pros to Using Flat Paint
Flat paint has a professional, smooth look. In this section, we discuss all the reasons flat paint is an awesome choice. However, before you run out and buy flat paint for every room in your house; stick around for the downsides to using flat paint.
Pros to using flat paint:
- Flat paint hides imperfections underneath
- It provides good coverage and hides paint lines
- Flat paint doesn’t draw attention
Let’s look at these pros in more depth.
Flat Paint Hides Imperfections
Since flat paint doesn’t reflect light like high-gloss paint, you don’t see all the imperfections underneath or on the surface.
A good example is paint on a new car. When you buy a new car, the body is shiny and clean. However, a shiny finish can be stressful, as even the smallest scratch stands out like a bear in a chicken coop.
However, with flat paint, you can rest easy, knowing that scratches and imperfections below the surface are well hidden.
Flat Paint Provides Good Coverage and Hides Paint Lines
Ever stand back and admire the beauty of cheap paint? You look at your work and it appears that a child has scribbled everywhere with a big crayon.
A similar effect can occur with especially glossy paint. If you don’t take the time to lay multiple finishes, it’s challenging to make a high-gloss paint appear uniform.
Flat and matte paints do a much better job of staying in the background, without accenting small imperfections.
Flat Paint Doesn’t Draw Attention
When you paint a sports car, the goal is often to be flashy and fun. However, when painting the walls and ceilings of your home, not everyone wants their walls to leave a mark on a visitor’s mind.
Many people have items in their homes that do want to draw attention to, for example, paintings and family pictures. Flat or matte paint can provide a backdrop for those items you want to stand out.
Shiny paint tends to clash with artwork on the walls.
Okay, we’ve covered several benefits to flat paint. Now, let’s look at the downsides.
Downsides to Flat Paint
Flat paint has trade-offs. In this section, we discuss some issues you’ll need to consider before applying flat paint in your homes.
Cons to flat paint:
- Low durability
- Difficult to clean
More details are below.
Flat paint sacrifices some durability in favor of finish. Due to the makeup of flat paint, it tends to chip and flake easier than high gloss paint.
So, if you have children, animals, or a high-touch area, then it’s best to stay away from flat paint.
Here are several areas to avoid flat paint:
- Entryway: Everyone passes through the entryway multiple times per day. As a result, you have greater potential for someone to bump the wall or cover it with fingerprints.
- Kitchen: The kitchen is subject to steam and clanking pots and pans. These forces will be hard for flat paint to handle. For the kitchen, it’s best to choose more durable paint.
- Bathroom: Though flat paint is often chosen for the ceilings, the bathroom is an exception to this rule. Steam and water don’t do well with flat paint!
Alright, now let’s discuss one more downside to flat paint.
Flat Paint is Difficult to Clean
Think of high gloss paint like glass. No matter how dirty your windows get, there is always some sort of cleaner that can get them sparkling. (And you can scrub and scrub without damaging the glass!)
However, flat paint doesn’t handle harsh cleaning and scrubbing. Of course, you can use a damp towel to clean some areas of flat paint. But in general, heavy scrubbing can damage the surface of flat paint, causing scuffs.
How to Use Flat Paint
Now, let’s talk about how to use flat paint for the best results. When your friends walk into your home, you want them to remark at the cozy inviting feel of your home. You want things to feel chill.
Steps to painting with flat paint:
- Safety: Even water-based paint can release VOCs. If you’re painting a child’s bedroom, or have a baby on the way, consider buying paint that has no VOCs or very low VOCs. Certainly, it’s important to avoid oil-based paint. Set up adequate ventilation.
- Color choice: The infamous “It didn’t look like this in the store!” Well, on a large wall, the paint will look different once it’s dry. Try to apply the paint to an inconspicuous wall before painting it on the whole area. Also, look at paint colors you like in someone else home, that will give you a good feel.
- Buy quality: perhaps the worst mistake – buying cheap paint. Some beginners assume “paint is just paint”; unfortunately, many people learn the hard way. Anyone who has painted a little while knows that good paint makes a huge difference.
- Prepare equipment: For the best painting experience, buy quality brushes and rollers. For using flat paint on the ceiling, it’s worth buying an extension for the roller. Your arms will tire faster than you think when painting a ceiling!
- Tape off edges: This is essential. If you’re not a master painter, then taping edges will be a life-saver. Yes, it takes some time, but it will save you time in the long run.
- Stir your paint: Be sure to stir your paint. If you use an electric stir stick, be careful you don’t introduce a bunch of air bubbles into the paint.
- Apply multiple, thin coats: Apply the paint evenly, and don’t fall into the “get it done now” trap. Applying layers that are too thick will cause drips and won’t allow the paint to dry adequately.
Alright, those are some tips to get you started with paint. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from a friend, and remember to turn on some music and have fun while painting.
Final Words on Flat Paint
Flat paint is primarily used for ceilings. However, some will use flat paint for bedroom walls and other low-traffic areas.
For high traffic areas, like playrooms, child’s bedrooms, and walkways, go with a paint that has a higher sheen – perhaps an eggshell. Ultimately, test the paint you want to use, and buy the best quality you can.
Take your time when applying flat paint. A job well done will give you a satisfying finish and a relaxing atmosphere.