Matt or silk paint? Now that’s a good question. Are ceiling paints the same as interior wall paints? Can you use the same paint finish in your kitchen that you have in your bedroom?
If you’re asking yourself these questions or are confused by all the different paint finishes read on and I’ll explain what each paint finish is, the benefits each has and which paint finishes are best used where.
Understanding Paint Sheen & The Differences
You take care when choosing your new colour scheme so don’t let it down at the last hurdle by choosing the wrong paint finish.
Although the key difference between matt and silk paint and other variations such as washable matt paint and eggshell is the sheen (the shiny-ness). There are other characteristics to consider. So, let’s get on with it.
What Is Matt Emulsion?
Matt emulsion (matte) is known as a ‘dull’ or ‘flat’ finish in the trade, in other words, an (almost) non-shiny finish. It is a water-based paint that is suitable for both interior walls and ceilings. Matt is extremely easy to apply and the best paint for hiding imperfections.
A good quality modern smooth matt emulsion can be both hard-wearing and, with care, washable.
What Is Flat Matt Emulsion?
Ok, so what is flat matt paint? Flat matt is ultra matt and has no shine at all. This non-reflective finish is a more ‘velvety’ consistency making it one of the best finishes for use on those less than perfect walls.
Similar to the matt finish, it is one of the easiest finishes to apply and touch up. Good quality ‘flat’ paints can be hardwearing and, again with care, washable.
What Is A Silk Finish?
There is one obvious difference between matt and silk paint, silk is a mid-sheen finish, in other words, slightly shiny.
The advantage this gives silk over a matt finish is that, even though water-based, sheen finishes are less absorbent, making it ideal for use in bathrooms and kitchens (it’s a good alternative to using masonry paints indoors which can be dangerous).
Silk finishes are not prone to marking and soiling, unlike the smooth velvety finish of matt paint. It can be easily wiped down without the risk of marking or smearing.
However, unlike with the matt finish, using silk emulsion will mean minor surface imperfections will show.
What Is An Eggshell Finish?
Eggshell is one of the low sheen paints, somewhere between a matt and silk finish. It is easy to apply, durable, and can easily be wiped clean. As the name suggests the finish has the appearance of the shell of an egg.
An eggshell finish won’t hide imperfections the same as matt paint, because it does reflect some light. However, it won’t highlight them as much as a silk or gloss finish would do either.
What Is A Satin Finish?
A satin finish has a wonderful lustre with more shine than silk, but less than a semi-gloss paint.
Although generally used on woodwork around the home, it is ideal for walls in high use areas. For example children’s rooms and hallways because it is durable and will withstand a good wash down with warm soapy water.
A satin finish can also withstand humidity and condensation extremely well, making it another great choice for the kitchen or bathroom.
What Is Gloss Paint?
Gloss paint is solvent-based and extremely shiny, it is usually only found on walls in an industrial setting. For the average household, I recommend that you keep your gloss paint on the woodwork i.e door surrounds, skirting boards, windows frames, and windowsills.
Benefits Of Matt Paint
The main benefit of using matt paint has to be the ease of application. Flat paints have a higher viscosity, meaning it is thicker than other paints. With this comes the benefit that it hides minor imperfections such as fine cracks and brush marks that simply melt away.
Because flat paint absorbs light rather than reflecting it, it is gentle on the eye. Making it ideal for living rooms, the master bedroom or in fact it’s great for any low traffic areas or rooms that get more light.
Benefits Of Silk Paint
Silk paints give a slightly shiny surface or smooth low sheen finish. And, because it is less porous than a matt finish, silk is perfect for use in kitchens and bathrooms.
It is also a tougher finish than matt paint, which means silk paint is hard-wearing and durable. The end result for you is less maintenance, more resilience and ease of cleaning.
Matt Or Silk Paint: Which Is Best For What Room?
Although I have touched on which paint type is best for which room above, here’s a bit more info to help you decide.
Remember, different finishes each have their pros and cons to consider. And, although we may not all have the same interior styles, there are some general guidelines to help us get the matt vs silk dilemma right.
Matt Vs Silk Paint For Ceilings & Walls
Matt or silk paint for ceilings? It’s generally accepted by all professional decorators that matt paint is best for ceilings (flat or matte) every time. Although there is nothing stopping you from using silk or even high sheen paints if you choose. You will never get a finish as nice as with good quality matt paint.
Although a lot is down to personal preference when it comes to silk or matt paint for walls there is a general rule.
Use silk paint for areas that have high humidity or condensation i.e kitchen and bathrooms, and high traffic areas such as a busy hallway, and for those of you with young children, the kiddie’s bedrooms.
Just remember, with silk, you will see more imperfections and brush strokes than with matt it’s much more water-resistant in condensated rooms or walls that need regular cleaning.
Should You Use Matt Or Silk Paint For A Living Room?
Using either matt or silk paint for the living room is acceptable. Matt has the advantage that it is easy to apply and hides surface imperfections. However, silk will give a stylish finish that can enhance a living room with a soft glow, it is also more durable and easier to maintain.
Is Matt Or Silk Paint Best For A Bedroom?
Personally, I think a flat finish is best for a bedroom, however, this is a purely personal choice.
Matt paint absorbs light and tends to be gentler on the eyes and looks exceptional with darker shades. That being said, for a stylish and long-lasting, easily maintained finish silk is a great alternative to matt.
Is Matt Or Silk Paint Best For A Kitchen?
Without any doubt, silk paint is the best paint for a kitchen. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, it is water-resistant and is able to cope with humidity and condensation. And, secondly, it can be easily cleaned and wiped down from cooking spills or pan spits.
Difference Between Vinyl Matt Paints Vs Non-Vinyl Emulsion
So, what is the difference between vinyl matt paint and non-vinyl matt? The simple answer is that vinyl matt contains resin. The resin makes it more durable and harder-wearing than a non-vinyl matt. So, although vinyl matt is more expensive, in the long term you will be saving money.
Final Thoughts & Recommendations
So, there you have it, the differences between matt and silk and a couple of the other different paint types on the market today.
To sum up, if you want stylish, hardwearing, and water-resistant then a low to mid-sheen paint is the way to go. However, a flat finish can be very forgiving on the not-so-perfect ceilings and walls and still make them look great. Therefore, a general purpose matt serves as a great all-rounder for rooms that do not get a lot of wear and tear from use.
Other Commonly Asked Questions
Below I give you answers to some of the most commonly asked questions that have not been covered above. I hope this helps you further and enjoy you decorating.
Can you paint matt over silk paint?
You can only paint matt over silk paint when the silk has been either primed or sanded to give the surface a ‘key’. Without this preparation, the matt paint can crack as it dries.
Is matt or silk paint more modern?
In the past, it was traditional to use matt for ceilings and walls and gloss paint for wood. However, both modern matt and silk paints are popular and range from flat, soft sheen to a gloss finish.
Does silk paint crack over time?
Silk paint finishes are more flexible than matt finishes and rarely crack over time. However, should you paint matt onto any high sheen paint then cracking may occur.
Does paint sheen dull over time?
Paint sheen can dull over a long period of time with flat or matt finishes fading faster than those with a sheen.