6th Dec 2022 -

The least reflective paint finish available, matt paints offer an attractive subdued look, popularly used for ceilings and walls within buildings. However, when considering the ideal paint for a project there are a few limiting factors for matt paint to keep in mind. In this guide from Building Materials Nationwide, we’ll look through the basics of matt paint, some of the different types available, and the places where matt paint can be used around a building.

What is Matt Paint?

When buying paint there are two key aspects to keep in mind, the type of paint, and the finish of the paint. While the type could be oil-based, acrylic, or emulsion, the finish will govern how the paint looks on a wall, affecting the sheen level of a paint's colour. Sheen refers to the reflectiveness of a painted surface. Matt paint, sometimes called vinyl matt paint, will offer the least reflective finish, with gloss paint offering the highest level. It has a chalky, powdered appearance, with a smooth finish. Matt paints are available in a wide range of colours.

What Types of Matt Paint Are Available?

Traditional emulsion paint is available with matt finishes, perfect for internal walls and surfaces. Oil-based matt paints can also be found, which can be used for painting wood and metal. In addition, specialist matt paints are available, such as exterior matt paints, matt paints for concrete floors, and matt acrylic paints. There are also matt paints that are formulated for more challenging interior environments, like kitchens and bathrooms.

What Are the Benefits and Drawbacks of Matt Paint?

Matt paint offers a subdued and attractive look, blending well within a variety of rooms in both modern and classical homes. The other main benefit offered by Matt is that it gives a consistent look that masks many of the imperfections on a surface. Higher sheen options like silk and gloss will draw attention to any cracks, bumps, and holes on a wall or ceiling, which can make for an unappealing finish. Matt is also easy to apply and quick to dry, making it suitable for decorators of all skill levels. It blends well, whereas other options like gloss can have issues with visible brush strokes.

Matt paint has a couple of drawbacks worth keeping in mind. Visually, glossier paints can make a room seem bigger than it actually is, which matt paint will not do. Matt also lacks the durability of higher sheen options, meaning that scuffs and marks made to it can be much more visible than they would be on a different paint option. In high-traffic environments like family homes, these issues with durability can hurt the lifespan of matt paint. Higher sheen paints can typically be washed, while matt paint is not suitable for the same level of cleaning. This can cause issues within an environment where staining of paint could occur, such as a kitchen. It’s worth bearing in mind that the paint industry is continually innovating, with modern matt options boasting improved durability, and some even allowing for more thorough cleaning.

Where is Matt Paint Used?

Matt paint is sold in many forms, for use around and outside a house, and for both structural elements like walls and individual items like chests of drawers.

  • Low Traffic Areas: As matt emulsion paint can have issues with wear, staining, and long-term durability, low-traffic areas of a house are an ideal location for use. While advancements have been made, the reduced durability of matt can make it a limiting choice in busy entranceways.
  • Walls and Ceilings: Matt will create attractive and smooth surfaces on walls and ceilings. It will also mask any imperfections, and can often be contrasted with gloss in living rooms or dining rooms, for instance painting the walls and ceilings in matt emulsion, and then painting the skirting boards, window sills, and any other wooden features in gloss.
  • Wood and Metal: Specialist matt options exist for both interior and exterior use on wood and metal, giving a strong black or white look to railings, bannisters, and doors. If looking to paint metal or wood, you’ll need to ensure that you buy a matt option which specifically lists the material you’ll be painting over.
  • Furniture: Using matt wood paint for furniture can be a stylish modern look, with wardrobes, chests of drawers and desks looking great in colourful matt hues like magnolia and dark green.
  • Concrete Floors: Specialist matt paints are available for concrete floors, creating an attractive resistant surface. The matt finish will help to obscure any bumps or uneven elements on the floor.

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