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!