Satin and eggshell paints tend to be more popular than flat (also called matte) paint. The first two have a slight sheen; the second two have no reflective qualities at all. Their look is a matter of personal taste. But when applying them, which is easier?
Flat paint is easier to apply than satin and eggshell sheens because flashing (sheen inconsistency) is not an issue.
Though it looks great on your ceiling and walls, flat paint has a lot going against it. It’s not the most popular paint sheen out there for a few reasons. It’s difficult to clean. It doesn’t stand up well against moisture, meaning you won’t be applying it in the bathroom. it needs constant touching up.
However, flat does have one tremendous quality: it is far easier to work with than any of the paints that have a sheen: eggshell, satin, semi-gloss, and gloss.
Less Resins = No Leading Edge to Worry About
When brushing or rolling paint that has any type of sheen, you need to be aware of the leading edge. Working off of this wet leading edge (the last part that you painted) is key to a good finish.
Sometimes, when you let that leading edge dry, then try to work off of it later, a dull line develops where the old finish and new finish meet. Sheen inconsistency is called flashing.
Flat paint has a greater pigment-to-resins ratio than all other paint sheens. Resins help a paint resist water better, yet they are also the cause behind flashing. With flat paint, you can essentially paint with abandon, without worrying about ending up with those dreaded start-and-stop marks on your wall.
By consulting perms, you can see the tremendous spread in resin content between flat paint and other sheens. A perm is a standard unit that measures water vapor transmission. Any perm rating above 1.0 means that the surface is not considered a water vapor barrier.
- Epoxy-polyamide (gloss) 0.14
- Alkyd semigloss 0.57
- Latex semigloss 4.98
- Alkyd flat 19.9
- Latex flat 27.0
Mixing Still Required
Applying flat paint is not completely foolproof, though. Like other paints, it still needs to be thoroughly mixed. It is still possible, with flat, to create a difference between two areas of paint because pigment has been dispensed differently between the two.
Limited Scope of Discussion
Though I don’t usually remind readers of the topic of an article, in this case it’s important. We are only discussing which is easier to apply, flat paint or satin/eggshell paint. Post-application, the script is flipped. Flat is far more difficult to maintain than eggshell, stain, semi-gloss, or glossy paints.
Paint manufacturer Dulux discusses the moisture vapor transmission ratings, called “perms,” of several types of paint sheens.
Professional painters in the forum Paint Talk discuss the difficulty of maintaining a wet edge (and preventing flashing) when working with eggshell sheen paint.