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talk to me about paint, esp this whole matte v. eggshell v. gloss business

(6 Posts)
theory Fri 07-Oct-11 14:36:41

we just bought a house (our first) and are getting set to have it all painted before we move in- DH claims he's color-blind, conveniently, and I have no excuses, but no idea what I'm doing!

our style, insofar as we have one, is modern (we have Danish 50s-60s furniture and gabbeh rugs, contemporary paintings). The house is a small Victorian terraced job with some original features but also a lot of built in storage cabinetry in high-gloss white in some of the rooms (kitchen, bedrooms).

The current owners have painted the whole place in some variant of a matte white, but the doors are in a glossy grey-brown (a decorater told me it looked to be F & B elephant's breath). The fireplaces and walls immediately around them, ifkwim, are also in that shade, but matte. I think this looks nice, but a little muddy and serious...

questions: first, what's the deal with matte-- why do I want matte vs. eggshell vs. gloss? Said decorater told me it was 'unusual' to do the doors in gloss -- he suggested eggshell--and he also thought we should bring all the woodwork, including doors to white if we plan on keeping white throughout. I nodded gravely. But honestly, I'm not sure what the different effect is of matte vs. eggshell vs. gloss. Wouldn't some amount of glossiness help bounce light around (a good thingi in small spaces)? Do glossy paints generally clean better (we have a toddler and one on the way in Dec)?

second question: how does one go about choosing a white paint? there are so many different types, I find myself at a loss. We'll have two children's rooms, and a friend recommended that we paint them in something OTHER than white, as white would be too cold. There are, however, those white built-in storage units I mentioned... wouldn't a creamy color look out of place?

Apologies for the long post- looking forward to all ideas!

gegs73 Fri 07-Oct-11 14:42:37

Hi - I'm no expert, but its my understanding that eggshell is a kind of gloss replacement which doesn't smell as strong and is not very shiny looking (but more than matte which is what is usually used on walls and ceilings). So instead of painting doors or skirting boards with gloss some people do it with egg shell.

However, having used eggshell in our bathroom and kitchen on the doors and skirts and then repainting it about a year later with gloss I wouldn't recommend it, especially with a young dirty handed family! Its really hard to clean, not hard wearing and before we repainted it looked terrible. I think unless you have a very clean, or older family gloss is best as it just stays looking good longer and is easier to wipe clean.

White paint question I have no idea grin

AMumInScotland Fri 07-Oct-11 14:52:05

Gloss is the traditional thing for doors and woodwork, it's more hardwearing and easier to clean - but harder to do neatly in big areas, which may be why he wants to put you off!

I would go with a Brilliant White for woodwork, as its easier to match it up later, compared with all the other shades of white you can get (which are mostly pale colours not white at all).

For the childrens rooms I'd pick a pale colour rather than white (too stark) or cream (as you say, can be odd beside white units). I like these sorts of ones - from dulux

minipie Fri 07-Oct-11 15:13:06

Emulsion is generally what you put on walls. It's usually matte (and companies like Farrow & Ball are known for their particularly matte, chalky paints). However some companies do a "satin" or "vinyl" finish emulsion which has a bit more sheen to it.

Gloss is what was traditionally put on woodwork. It's very shiny. Also hardwearing. However, I think most people in the UK now tend to use eggshell for their woodwork instead, so gloss can look a bit old fashioned. Oil based gloss tends to go yellow. Water based gloss doesn't but is (I hear) a bugger to paint with.

Eggshell, also known as satinwood, is a less shiny paint than gloss for woodwork. However it is still more shiny than emulsion, so still has quite a bit of sheen. It also has much less tendency to go yellow than gloss. It's not quite as hardwearing but is pretty good.

Re colours:

- Personally I would paint your woodwork white. Coloured woodwork looks quite 1970s to me - though there is a bit of a trend for it at the moment. Brilliant White can look very harsh (it has brighteners added to make it super white). So I prefer a non-brilliant white (ie just "white"). I recommend Sikkens Rubbol Satura as woodwork paint (in eggshell/satinwood finish) - it's very long lasting, won't yellow. Lots of fumes though. Dulux Satinwood is ok too and less pricey.

- Children's rooms in white would look fine IMO if that's what you want. Again, I would avoid brilliant white and go for just white - something like Dulux Supermatt in Trade White (Cheap too!). However, a creamy/off white colour would also look fine with white woodwork - I have several creamy/off white colour rooms with lots of white painted wood in, looks fine. Suggest F&B Pointing, or Crown Soft Linen, or Dulux Jasmine White?

theory Fri 07-Oct-11 23:55:21

brilliant- thanks, everyone grin I definitely feel like I've got a better grip on this now. I think we now need to take a trip to a paint store -- the colors we get on the computer screen seem hard to judge by. Our closest paint store is, remarkably enough, F & B. But I think I may not like -- dare I say this?-- that chalky look. It just seems a little on the dead (and dead serious) side to my eyes.

Another question, if I may- what do you think looks good on fireplaces for a modern house? There are two in the reception room and one in DD's bedroom. Do people often paint them to match the woodwork, or to match the walls?

minipie Mon 10-Oct-11 11:38:49

Are your fireplaces wooden then? If so I would paint them in white eggshell/satinwood, i.e. to match the woodwork.

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