A Note on Paints

By November 15, 2010 No Comments

A Note on Paints

By Morgan Bricca November 15, 2010

I was recently working on a project while there were house painters working on the rest of the house. They were painting the whole house using a flat paint. No big deal, that is what people have been doing for the last 50 years.

BUT – the world has changed! And in case you didn’t get the memo, let me fill you in on why flat paint is a BAD idea.

The family had three small children running around. They were painting all the rooms in the house with flat finish, including the hallways, bedrooms, living room, etc. Oh, except the bathroom, which they were painting in semi-gloss. But I will get to that in a minute. Every finger print from every time they turn on the light, touch the walls coming down the hallway from the kitchen, etc, leaves a slight smudge on the wall. Flat paint literally sucks up oils and moisture, and with flat paint, the only way to get rid of it is to paint over it. I think that painter was looking forward to coming back every year or two for paint touch ups with more flat paint. More work for him, so he is not complaining. Wow.

OK, what is the solution? Washable Matte. Brilliant. No sheen, and you can wipe off finger prints, oils, smudges, etc. You get a matte finish, just like flat. Okay, it costs $10 more per gallon, but you won’t have to call your painter back for another 10 years.

Paint has made a dramatic improvement for the better in the last couple years. I should be on a commercial for Benjamin Moore Aura, but I really like their product. Here’s why:

The Aura line is self-priming. You used to put on this very stinky toxic white coat to prime before painting. It added an extra day to the project and extra labor and product costs. Now, if the wall is in decent shape, you can skip that step. Wow.

Because of the bright white primer, and thin coverage of most house paints, you needed at least two, sometimes three coats of paint. Benjamin Moore Aura paints are super opaque and color rich, so if you are not making a dramatic color change, you can get away with one coat. I always use two because I am usually involved in a dramatic color change, but though the paint costs more, imagine the cost savings.

Aura is low – VOC. They do have a no-VOC product (Natura), but I am willing to make a bit of a compromise because the Aura paint is so durable and robust. (The Natura is fussier for me, has a drying agent that for my purposes I don’t like, and they don’t have the washable matte.)

Okay, now for the semi-gloss debunking. In the olden days, you put gloss or semi gloss on bathrooms because it meant it was more moisture resistant. The way paints are made today (Aura even has steam and bath specialty paint that has more anti mold agents) is that every sheen is more durable, including moisture resistance. That means choose the sheen based on your tastes. You can have glossy trim if you like it. Or glossy walls (I am sure it will come back into to vogue again soon, when 80’s decorating is the thing to do). But don’t choose glossy because there is an unwritten rule about gloss in kitchens and bathrooms. Or on cabinets. I put an eggshell on my cabinets in the bathroom. It has only been 3 years, but they still look fabulous. I can wipe them down with my nice non-toxic cleanser. Bottom line: shiny finish does not equal durability.

So, that is my painting primer. And a caveat: This is all my opinion, and I could be wrong on all of the above. I have been working with house paints for 10 years in a variety of environments and purposes. I have formed my opinion from the small, hands on world I occupy. The painter I met painting the house with flat paint certainly did not endorse my washable matte opinion. He wants the frequent repeat business flat paint offers!


Morgan Bricca

Morgan Bricca

Morgan Bricca is a mural artist living and working in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her clients run the gamut from professional creatives, including architects and designers to building owners, school administrators and community advocates. When she is not making art, Morgan enjoys sipping boba tea with her kids and taking naps on the couch.


Our entire staff enthusiastically appreciates the artistic transformation of our clinic. The kids here for medical services LOVE the murals as well. One of our young patients returned from emergency psychiatric services for a self-harm issue and when she came into our office she had a huge smile upon seeing the mural. It is amazing to all of us how immediately a depressed patient responded to the mural art.

It has been a pleasure to work with you. We love both your work and the positive environment and spirit you have instilled in our kids.  Once again Morgan, thank you so very much from the bottom of my heart.

Warm regards,

Chia-Chen Lee
Juvenile Hall Medical Clinic Pediatrics

Review for Juvenile Hall Mural Project by Chia-Chen Lee

Morgan blew it out of the water.  As a general contractor, I would say my decision to hire Morgan for this mural is one of the best decisions I have made in terms of impact of my work.  Every kid will remember this mural as long as he or she shall live. Watching a child see the mural for the first time is an experience words can’t describe. It’s mesmerizing to them. Adults too, for that matter. It’s a show stopper.  So much better than I could have ever imagined.

I would go out of my very busy way to recommend Ms. Morgan Bricca on every possible level, with no hesitation. Please feel free to call me if you are considering hiring Morgan but can’t quite take the leap. I will be glad to push you in.

Chris Carver
Aquatic Management Group
Raleigh, North Carolina

Mural artist review by Chris Carver

Morgan offers a unique collaborative approach with her clients. On our project, she struck the perfect balance; she listened to our ideas and feedback but very much maintained her role as the creative expert, making us feel comfortable the entire time.

I would absolutely recommend Morgan with no hesitation. With all that she has done, she is going to find the right approach for just about any client.

Jonathan Meyer
VP, Marketing and Community Relations
San Mateo Credit Union

Mural painter review by Jonathan Meyer

We absolutely love our mural! I anticipated that it would add beauty and a much-needed “nature element” onto our campus, I never could have imagined what a huge impact this would have on our school. I have seen countless children, parents, and teachers walk by in awe, totally captivated. Not only does it make our campus a brighter, more beautiful place to learn and play, it reminds our entire community of the tremendous importance of art. This is a gift beyond measure, especially in tech-obsessed silicon valley. Once again, you have exceeded my (already high) expectations!

You are so fun, inspiring and professional to work with and your projects in our kinder yard and now this mural have been my most satisfying collaborations on PTA.


Christy Flahavan
PTA President
Springer Elementary School

Mural Artist Review for Springer Elementary School by Christy Flahavan

The real value and pleasure of working with Morgan was that we connected with her. She was very personable, very sincere, very collaborative, but not one to sit back and let us lead it in a wrong direction. We trusted her completely from the past work she had done for us, and told her, “here is a wall, do something with it – surprise us.” It’s like dealing with a friend.

The murals she has created for us make our home more intimate, warm, and personal. I was surprised at how quickly she worked, how easily it got done, and how watching the process was enlightening. It just flowed; it was like watching a very large masterpiece being created before our very eyes. It was especially interesting when she got into the tonality and the tints. For us, it turned out better than we could have expected. I absolutely recommend her without a doubt.

Mural Painter Review by Sandy Bland

Morgan, the mural you created for our building has been a major attraction for both locals and visitors in Downtown Napa. The transformation of an eye sore, to a work of art, has been nothing short of amazing. I feel a little guilty receiving so many compliments for your work, however that doesn’t stop me from stealing part of your credit. Your attention to detail and sensitivity, bringing the Wappo tribe into the process, unified Napa’s residents with its history. This public recognition of the Wappo Indians is long overdue, reminding us all of a different time in the Napa Valley when nature and people could live harmoniously.

Every day, as I watch children and adults transported to an earlier time in the Napa Valley, I appreciate your ability to be the vehicle for their journey. I hope soon you will return to sprinkle some more fairy dust on another wall, so I can watch your magic talented creations at work.

Thank You,
Michael L Holcomb

Mural Artist Review by Michael L Holcomb

Hi Morgan,

We had an end of the school year party at our house and everyone raved about your mural. I see your name and date, 2012, on it and can’t believe it was 4 years ago.

Just wanted you to know it brings me joy every day.

Josh Weinstock

Mural Artist Review by Josh Weinstock

I have worked with Morgan on five mural projects at our house over the past six years. I love her work and she is a pleasure to work with. Once you see how transformed your space is by the first mural, it is easy to start seeing other rooms that could benefit from a “Morgan”.

Susan Wojicki
CEO, YouTube

Mural Painter Review by Susan Wojicki

Morgan’s work is exquisite. She loves what she does, works extremely fast, and is a true pleasure to work with.

David DaPonte
Architect, HKS

Mural Painter Review by David DaPonte

Without fail, anytime someone comes to our house who hasn’t seen the painting, they comment on it and how much they like it.

Adam King
Director, Intel Corporation


Mural Painter Review by Adam King