Flat Paint Finishes – The Latest in Designing Techniques


There is a new technology that allows for flat-finish paints to offer washable performance plus the sophisticated elegance of a shine-free finish.

by Amanda Lecky Stir Magazine

Flat paint finishes are second to none when it comes to creating a rich, velvety look on the wall, but in the past this effect came with a price: The porosity of flat finishes made them more prone to staining and more difficult to clean, since washing and scrubbing often caused color change and burnishing.Happily, improved paint formulations have eliminated these worries. “Today’s premium flat finishes from Sherwin-Williams use coatings technology that wasn’t available just a few years ago,” says Jeff Winter, Vice President, Residential Marketing for Sherwin-Williams. “These proprietary formulas allow customers to get the flat finish that they desire, with the washability you’d expect from a higher sheen.”

“I love flat finishes,” says Sue Wadden, Director of Color Marketing for Sherwin-Williams. “They help hide surface imperfections in a wall because light doesn’t reflect off the high points — which is great if you have an older house with bumpy walls, like I do. And premium flat finishes like Duration Home® Interior Acrylic Latex Paint or Emerald® Interior Acrylic Latex Paint are very washable. I have kids and I have to clean my walls all the time.”

Beyond the practical considerations — Winter says that flat finishes are well-suited to large, open, sun-washed spaces that are prone to roller lapping — flat finishes are also having a trend moment.

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“Scandinavian influence is very strong right now, and when you look at those interiors they’re full of dull finishes,” Wadden says. “Chalky finishes on furniture are also very hot at the moment. So there’s a big appetite for dead-flat finishes. It’s a very sophisticated and subtle look.”

Using flat finishes, inside and out, is easy — if you pick the right paint. “You can’t just tint flat standard paint and expect durability and washability,” she says. “It’s not designed to withstand abrasion the way technologically advanced flat-finish paints like Duration or Emerald are.” Wadden offers more simple tips and ideas:

  • Stick with walls. “Even though flat finishes are very durable and cleanable, I’d still use a finish with a bit of gloss for trim and doors, and for horizontal surfaces like floors,” she says.
  • Don’t forget siding. “Flat exterior finishes are ideal for siding because they hide all those little bumps and dings. I painted my house in a flat finish,” she says.
  • Commercial projects aren’t off-limits. “You can use flat finishes on walls in commercial spaces, too. Maybe not in a commercial kitchen or bathroom, but they’re definitely good choices for hallways or gathering spaces.”
  • Go a little lighter. “Flat finishes tend to look richer and darker because they absorb light in a space. So you may find the color you like on the chip looks darker once it’s on the wall.”
  • Vary the sheen. “You can create tone-on-tone patterns by varying flat and eggshell or semigloss: think stripes or stencils, or just pair flat walls with glossy trim in the same color for a little variation.”