The Loft

The Home Base blog

The Finishing Touch

From matte, satin and low-sheen to gloss – find out what type of paint best suits your project


We’ve all been there. After countless hours of deliberation, you have finally selected a paint colour and go to the counter to ask for it to be prepared.

And then the attendant asks you to select a finish and you face yet another seemingly endless range of options.

David Anderson from Master Painters and Decorators Australia says all paints sold in Australia must be manufactured to comply with Australian Standards but manufacturers do offer different product ranges which vary in cost and finish.

“While they may have different ingredients, the basic composition for all paint includes a pigment, binder, thinner and drier,” he says.

Painter Mick Houghton from A. Painter, says his clients are often overwhelmed when it comes to working out which type of paint best suits their project and sometimes people want a finish that is simply not practical.

“The general rule of thumb is, the more glossy the finish, the easier it is to maintain and keep clean,” he says. But with all the current trends pointing towards chalky, ultra-matte finishes, it’s easy for renovators to get despondent.

“There are some new paints out there that wear very well and they can be cleaned without too much trouble but people really need to do their homework and try to remain objective,” Mick says. “Don’t always vote with your heart because in a few weeks time when your hard work, or someone else’s hard work, is ruined thanks to scuffs and hand prints that can’t be cleaned off, you will be disappointed.”

Haymes Paints’ Wendy Rennie says ceilings, walls and trim are all treated differently.

Ceilings only require a matte finish because they are a no-traffic zone.

“Walls need to have a sheen on them for true washability but you can have what we refer to as a low sheen,” she says. “Trim and windows are often a semi-gloss or high-gloss finish, to ensure you can really scrub them if required, as dust tends to settle in these areas and requires harder wear and tear capacities.

“There are different products for different practical purposes as well as different finishes for different looks. Often in older homes we don’t recommend a gloss but a semi-gloss on the trim and windows so it doesn’t highlight any of the imperfections.

“Front doors if new or well prepared look fantastic in a high-gloss finish.”

Bronwyn Riedel from Bauwerk says her range of paints have a different look and feel to others on the market.

“Our paints are natural and the light refracts off them completely differently to other paints, giving a finish and feel that is not like any other,” she says.

“We use natural pigments to colour which adds another dimension to the appearance. We colour our paints as an artist would, not as a conventional paint company does.”

Bronwyn says one of the reasons Bauwerk paint looks so beautiful on the wall is due to the mineral structure of its paints, so the light hits the calcine nature of the limestone – the main ingredient of the paint – and refracts like a crystal with light bouncing off in millions of waves.

“This is completely different to petrochemical-based paints like acrylic paint and other mineral paint which have a petrochemical component which do not have that characteristic,” she says. “This quality is something that you intrinsically take in with your eye without really understanding why.”