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  • Neyir Urminsky

Paint Finishes - a cautionary tale or ORC week 2

Welcome back, we are in week 2, that means we are 25% done, yikes and wow!!!! Be sure to check out all the amazing featured designers and the other guest participants as well :-)! Sooooo I knew this was going to be a week of lots of painting. This room needed everything coated including a base white Before I start on the mural panels that I will be painting!!!! But before I get to that let me show you something pretty :-)! I had a lovely trip this week to the fabric district and picked up all the trim and another fabric that will be used to line the curtain - I start sewing this week!!!

Ok, now back to my cautionary tale! When we first moved into this house I was sooooo excited that the entire space was freshly painted and white! In our many years of moving around; Vancouver to Scotland to the US then back to Canada we have lived in 9 houses/flats/apartments and only 1 had white walls!!! Back last summer when I came up with the idea to paint the mural panels I thought it would be quick to knock out one weekend with a couple of sample pots of green paint because the walls had JUST been painted after all!

I quickly discovered something truly horrible - the entire house, everything had been sprayed in not even matte but flat paint!!! Soon after this horrific realization I was speaking to a contractor and relayed my dismay about living with 4 boys in a thusly painted house and he looked at me in pity and said 'you know that flat paint is like a sponge right? You won't be able to clean it at all!!'. And well he was right.....the issue isn't the walls so much but all the wood work and doors which are the spaces most likely to be touched by grimy hands. And to this that the painters didn't prepare the previously glossy surfaces properly so the flat paint is chipping off many of the doors. See exhibit A, the stairs the boys take to the basement, our first year we didn't have a proper railing so they just grabbed the stair moulding.....not washable :-(.

So while you may be tempted to paint your home in a glorious, chalky deep flat or matte paint colour let me suggest that if you have younger people in your life you rethink that plan. Let's take a walk through paint finishes shall we :-). Most companies make their paints in the following finishes from least to most shiny; flat, matte, eggshell, satin, semi-gloss and gloss/high-gloss. Paint is made up of essentially 3 components; colour, something to stick it together and a liquid (water or oil). The less shiny the paint the less glue, the shinier the more glue. The less shiny or the matter the paint the less it reflects light so the more forgiving it is of imperfections on your wall. Flat paint is generally only used on ceilings and I suspect art galleries. Many, many, blogs, articles will tell you to paint your bedroom walls in matte which I personally feel is some sort of proof that the people writing these articles have either never had children or have children much tidier than my boys! In my opinion matte only works in adult bedrooms. In our main bedroom the walls are Behr Marquee Opera Glasses in Matte and the trim is the same colour in Marquee Semi-gloss. It has held up well but there are some marks where the boys have touched it. Soooo if you can be sure your children won't touch their walls then knock yourself out and paint the kids rooms in matte!

In general I think the best option for most bedrooms is a good quality eggshell paint or if you have more concerns about washability go for satin but remember that will show more imperfections of the application and the underlying wall. For trim/woodwork I personally prefer a semi or full gloss though in some situations such as when the woodwork isn't a great design element can see the argument for satin. When it comes to choosing a finish for your wood work think always of hands particularly if you have kids or teens in your life! Hands go on doors, woodwork around doors and feet hit that moulding right at the bottom of the wall. A semi or high gloss paint will stay cleaner and be more washable. You might see the chips more but if you have kids and that bothers you then you are already touching up your paint anyway!!!

Soooo far in the boys room I have painted the ceiling in Behr Winterscape in eggshell and the crown in Behr Winterscape in semi-gloss. I chose the eggshell for the ceiling instead of Matte partially because I wanted to reflect some light down given that I was darkening the colour on the ceiling. But also practically I knew I would not use the whole can and I have NO USE for matte paint anywhere else in my life clearly!!! On the walls I currently have one coat of Behr Polar Bear in eggshell on the walls. I am currently undecided of what colour to paint the remaining moulding in the room and will decide once the painted mural panels are done. I love the contrast of 1 colour and two paint finishes in a room and this blue is best described as luminous! The pic below is from before I painted the walls, it's looking much crisper now!

Also I would be remiss not to add a note on white paint. Choosing white is a tricky, tricky business! Each time I paint out a space in our home I am reminded of how horrid the aforementioned flat paint is not only in finish but in colour. It can only be described as having sad grey/brown undertones and only in the most institutional way. I know you want to just choose the white that you've seen in someone else's home or in a photo online but like with grey's it is alll about the undertone. Grab a few sample pots of whites and just paint tester swatches on your wall - at least 2 coats :-)!! See the sad grey/brown/'white' on the unpainted closet door below??? Don't bring this into your home!

Next week's post will be full of many more pretty photos now that all this prep work is out of the way! The boys are so excited and I even had some great help from one of the 5 year olds rolling the walls while I cut in this afternoon - teach'em young I say!

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Eliza Lane
Eliza Lane
May 13, 2021

When my kids were small, I got in the habit of painting every wall satin. In addition to general grubbiness, they were both also the type to draw on walls. (Eventually they graduated from an arts-based magnet school, though, so I think they came by their creativity naturally.) It was a revelation when I switched to eggshell. So soft, so classy.

My ORC room is my bedroom and I'm using matte paint for the first time on a wall. I live alone now and I'm pretty sure I can keep my hands off the walls--or at least well washed.

IG: @beginagainhouse


Doug Hall
Doug Hall
May 13, 2021

"sad grey/brown undertones", or what your Grandpa Hall would have called "dumb-dumbedy mud colour"...😉

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