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Eggshell vs Flat Paint?
December 13, 2004 9:06 AM   Subscribe

MoreAdventuresInPaintFilter Since the common wisdom is that eggshell-finish paint is perfect for walls, why is flat paint still commonly available? And If I mix equal parts flat and eggshell paint of a given color, what will I get? [mi]

Although I'm getting closer, I continue to spend/waste money on paint that looks too dark/intense on my walls. One issue that has surfaced is whether, with the color I am currently looking at on my wall (BMoore's Philadelphia Cream) would actually be the right color (I like it on the little card) if it was less reflective (hence the question about flat paint).

Well, there's always a tinted-white, right?
posted by ParisParamus to Home & Garden (24 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Eggshell is not perfect for walls. Eggshell is popular for walls.
Some of us just prefer the look of flat finish paint. Flat is also more suitable for some uses - art gallery walls, for example, where the gloss would be detrimental and the greater durability of glossier paint is not needed, as they are frequently repainted.
If you mix eggshell and flat, you'll get a plaint whose gloss is in between, according to the proportions you mix. I doubt that would change the perceived colour in the way you're hoping. You'd be better off mixing with a can of a lighter shade of the same colour
If you're using latex, keep in mind that the paint in the can will not be the same colour as the painted wall. Latex becomes less white as it dries.
Also, most people prefer light paint colours and when picking from colour samples, underestimate how intense a colour will look when it covers a whole wall
Perhaps you could try a painting a test patch in a shade that is lighter than what you think you want.
If the finished patch is too light, you can get more pigment added at the store and try again.
posted by Zetetics at 9:29 AM on December 13, 2004


Zetetics, the thing is, as one goes lighter, one gets more light reflectivity--right? That's why "going flat" intrigues me.

Also, I am going mad.
posted by ParisParamus at 9:39 AM on December 13, 2004


Flat paint just looks better, imo. If you're painting a room where the walls are mostly blocked by furniture (such as a living room), or gets only light use, it's a good way to go. I save eggshell and semi-gloss for bedrooms, dens and corridors (hallways?).
posted by sid at 9:51 AM on December 13, 2004


Thread add-on time!

Is there a big advantage to using semi-gloss paint in bathrooms instead of satin? ("Satin" is the same as "eggshell", right?)
posted by davy at 9:53 AM on December 13, 2004


Satin is shine-y-er than eggshell.
posted by ParisParamus at 9:58 AM on December 13, 2004


Glossier paint is easier to clean and stands up to being wet better, IIRC, davy. In a bathroom that means when someone spashes toothpaste or something else on the wall, you can just take a wet rag and wipe it off with water.
posted by shepd at 9:59 AM on December 13, 2004


My problem with any gloss is that it (1)reflects more light; (2) connotes suburbia; (3) doesn't connote Park Slope brownstone built in 1885; (4) flat paint was in the flat of that artist I slept with in Paris...
posted by ParisParamus at 10:01 AM on December 13, 2004


Shepd: I think non-flat paint in a bathroom is necessitated by humidity, no?
posted by ParisParamus at 10:04 AM on December 13, 2004


One issue that has surfaced is whether, with the color I am currently looking at on my wall (BMoore's Philadelphia Cream) would actually be the right color (I like it on the little card) if it was less reflective (hence the question about flat paint).

Right.

The trend of cheerful, brightly-painted walls is finally catching on in mainstream America, replacing the obsession with boring off-white. Reds, blues, even yellows and lavenders... Here's a tip, though: Bright colors often look shocking in gloss, semi-gloss or even satin. Flat gives a nice toned-down feel and counterbalances the shock you might feel at your first colored wall.

I've talked to some paint stores about this recently and they agree. They see people returning semi-gloss wall colors because they were "more pink" (or whatever) than they thought, and a flat shade might've prevented this reaction.

Flat is less washable, but why not do a little simple ragging for a two-tone effect? This hides off-color scuffs well, and is easy to do. In the States Blonder's is probably the king of professional paint stores, but I'll admit that even Loews sells a nice ragging system for under $20 for a gallon of base coat, with premixed glazes sold seperately at a very reasonable price.

Flat is nice. Subtle.

On the other hand, if you DO go with an offwhite, I recommend one that has just the tiniest hint of rose in it. It will cheer you up and enliven you without you even realizing it. And with that I think I'd go with a satin.

Another tip: Sometimes a satin off-white looks warm and nice on ceilings instead of the usual pale plaster flat white.

Experiment. You can always paint over again, heh.
posted by Shane at 10:05 AM on December 13, 2004


I found that flat paint looks immeasurably better on plaster walls than anykind of gloss. It is just more pleasing with the texture.
posted by jmgorman at 10:08 AM on December 13, 2004


Can I sell nearly-full cans of paint on e-bay? ;- )
posted by ParisParamus at 10:08 AM on December 13, 2004


If you're looking at Benjamin Moore, get their Regal matte paint. It's flat, but washable as eggshell. Or so they claim.
posted by kindall at 10:42 AM on December 13, 2004


Said artist told me that for scuff marks on a painted wall (flat included), just take a clean rag with a bit of alcohol, and attempt to wipe off.
posted by ParisParamus at 10:52 AM on December 13, 2004


Wait. That was a different artist, Stateside, who told me that....
posted by ParisParamus at 10:54 AM on December 13, 2004


By the way, congrats on using Benjamin Moore. BM and Pratt/Lambert rule. I'd recommend one of their low-VOC (volatile organic compound) series, though, as otherwise you're looking at toxins slowly leeching out of the paint for literally years.

Again, it's kind of sacrilege, but I've been using Sherwin Williams's Harmony line, which is rated zero-VOC. I insisted on a discount and they happily gave me a 20% off card, which makes up for Harmony being a little more expensive.

Years ago I'd've been ashamed to use Sherwin paints even to paint someone else's house, but they work fine these days. Corporate-wise, they might be heinous (I'll have to look into that), but I don't think you care about that, PP.
posted by Shane at 11:30 AM on December 13, 2004


If anyone is still reading this, one last question. What is the "texture of plaster"? The wall I'm experimenting on is newer than the building, and (like the wall next to me in the law office where I'm sitting right now) is minimally textured visible bumps and valleys; I think this texture accentuates the gloss issue.

Is this texture the inherent state of wallboard/sheetrock(?); from a bad paint job? Can it be sanded smoother?
posted by ParisParamus at 11:32 AM on December 13, 2004


(textured with visible...)
posted by ParisParamus at 11:33 AM on December 13, 2004


Flat vs Gloss paint has to do with the ratio of pigment to binder.

A quote from that article that explains why flat finish paints are popular:

Painting contractors often choose more highly pigmented "dead" flat paints for new interior construction to hide unevenness of construction (particularly taped wall joints) and for their uniformity of touch-up.

As for mixing eggshell and flat paint, I wouldn't recommend it. You'll end up with some sort of strange hybrid you won't be able to exactly reproduce when you run out of paint on the third wall. Sure, you'll finish the room with a new batch that sorta looks the same, but you'll always know that one wall is different and over the years it will take its toll, slowly driving you mad.
posted by Loser at 11:43 AM on December 13, 2004


you'll always know that one wall is different and over the years it will take its toll, slowly driving you mad.

Hi, Loser! Maybe we're related.
posted by davy at 12:10 PM on December 13, 2004


My girlfriend and I just refinished two of her bathrooms and we basically got to replace sheetrock and replaster and paint (thrice).

The sheetrock/wallboard is flat. It has to be so it can be seamlessly (or, in our case, "almost seamlessly") mud and taped together.

If your wall is textured, it's usually done (I think) with a sprayer that applies additional spackle/joint compound which is then flattened with a trowel to give a semi-flat surface.

I've read that you can scrape the texture off of the wall, but haven't done that personally. I probably would steer clear of sanding it down, however; the dust would be horrible (like "cats and dogs living together, end-of-the-world" horrible). But, if you do sand joint compound, wet-sand (to help reduce the dust) and wear a dust-mask so as not to inhale too much.

Also, due to advances in PAINT TECHNOLOGY, flatter finishes on some paints do better than they used to in wet environments. We used a Behr flat enamel that worked pretty well.
posted by theFlyingSquirrel at 12:14 PM on December 13, 2004


It's been suggested that the "texture" to which I refer is from the last paint job's roller. I quest I'll have to settle for removing the obvious blobs of dired paint, and hope a lower gloss paint will hide the bumps.

FYI, BMoore paint samples are a mix of satin and eggshell, so they're even shiny-er than I expected.
posted by ParisParamus at 12:25 PM on December 13, 2004


By the way, congrats on using Benjamin Moore. BM and Pratt/Lambert rule.

Shane, I hate break it to you but P&L has been a brand name of Sherwin Williams for ten years. Chances are it's the same stuff in the can. Paint companies usually put the same paint in many different cans. SW markets under something like a dozen different brand names.

Oddly enough, Ben Moore is owned by Warren Buffet, maybe he liked the colors?
posted by octothorpe at 12:59 PM on December 13, 2004


Shane, I hate break it to you but P&L has been a brand name of Sherwin Williams for ten years.

Maybe so, it's been ten years since I did the college/painting contractor thing. But P&L used to be gold while SW was shite. Thanks for the news!

It's been suggested that the "texture" to which I refer is from the last paint job's roller.

Dude, if it's just "texture," not actually stuff like the contours of the studs showing through because the drywall has contracted/expanded with heat/cold and moisture and age, then I would suggest you do the quick fix: Use a 3/4" roller cover to apply an even hint of a "stipple" on the wall, covering a multitude of minor sins. You can also sand and even lightly scrape with a spackling knife, removing the the little particle-type bumps and some of the old roller marks.

If it's actually that 'old house syndrome' where the walls warp and the nails show through the drywall, all I can say is I HATE that ;-)
posted by Shane at 1:44 PM on December 13, 2004


I was really happy with Lowe's' (which has a location at 2nd Ave. and 12th St. or so in Bklyn) "Signature Colors" paint (in flat -- it just looks better). One coat really did do the job. Scuffs clean up nicely with a paper towel and a spritz of Simple Green. And it comes in a variety of classy colors.
posted by sad_otter at 5:58 PM on December 13, 2004


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