, , , ,

Painting Like a Pro – Part 2. Paint and Sheen

Painting Like a Pro

Let’s talk about Paint, Baby…

Before we start, let’s talk paint. One factor for a perfect paint job is the quality of the paint you choose. Do yourself a favor, don’t settle for the cheap store brand paint. You may save yourself a few bucks, but you will be looking at streaks and imperfections from the cheap paint for years to come. Or worse, the paint won’t hold up to wiping or moisture (not good!)

Painting Like a Pro

Painting Like a Pro

Benjamin Moore Aura Paint – Love this stuff! Serious love affair here. Not only is it low VOCs and low odor, but the coverage is amazing and you don’t see any of the roller marks. It is thick like a chocolate milk shake and spreads slightly after it is rolled on. This is the only paint I’ve been able to get away with only using one coat. But, it was because I was painting a lighter shade of sage over a pine green color. Other rooms where I was going from a much darker color to a light color, I had to use two coats, but I definitely didn’t use as much paint as I would have if I used another brand. Be prepared for the sticker shock, this paint isn’t cheap at $56 a gallon, but you will use less and you will be saving the environment!

Painting Like a Pro

Valspar – Hi Def Paint – Before we were spoiled by the Benjamin Moore Aura paint, Pretty Handsome Guy and I used to paint with Valspar paints for all our walls. In fact, we still use the Flat Ultra White for our ceilings. We were always happy with the results, but the idea of using a Low VOC paint really appealed to me.  Last week, as I eyed the “oops” paint at my local Lowe’s (a normal habit of mine), I was lucky enough to spot a color that was very close to a color I was craving for our bathroom. I grabbed it up for $5 ($10 at register with a $5 rebate. Normally $32). The paint was a gallon of the new Valspar Hi-DEF paint. I have to say, I was impressed by the coverage. It almost covered all of the old color in one coat (I was covering dark purple with a light aqua.) This paint would be a good option if you didn’t want to shell out the $56 for the Aura paint.

Painting Like a Pro

Benjamin Moore Impervo paintThis is my new favorite trim paint! This stuff goes on smooth and spreads like an oil paint. It also has a durable finish that resists chipping and really stands up to our kids’ shenanigans. Before I found the Impervo, I thought I was doomed to use an Alkyd (oil paint with a dryer added) paint for our trim. If you’ve ever had the misfortune of using oil based paint, you know that it has a strong odor and the brushes have to be cleaned with turpentine. Not at all good for you or the environment.  You can imagine my excitement (and skepticism) at finding a water based trim paint that is supposed to hold up like oil. Our living room trim paint has lasted 1.5 years and it still looks great! Again, this amazingly durable paint isn’t cheap, it costs $48  a gallon, but at least you don’t have to paint your trim every year if you have little devils boys in your home.

Please note: There are other good paints available (Sherwin Williams is also a favorite of many other DIY bloggers.) This is just a list of the paints that I love to use.


Let it Shine, Let it Shine (or maybe a little less shine) – Flat, Eggshell, Satin, Semi-Gloss, or  Gloss. How do you know which one to choose?

Gloss – The only time I use gloss or high gloss is for trim and cabinetry. (Or the things that get grubby fingers ALL over them.) The gloss surface cleans up much better than non-gloss, and it doesn’t hold onto oils or grease like the other finishes.

Semi-Gloss – This sheen is great for painting a bathroom, kitchen or walls that will see a lot of moisture, water and basic abuse.  Similar to the gloss, it will be easier to wipe clean and water splashes won’t show as much on this surface.

Satin – I know I just said you should paint kitchens and bathrooms with semi-gloss, but I rarely do. Why? Well, because my walls are far from perfect. We have two rooms that had wallpaper painted over (not my decision.) After spackling and sanding the seams (doing my best to smooth them), I used a satin paint.  Satin has most of the durability of a semi-gloss, but less sheen. If you use paint with a sheen you will see highlights wherever there is a seam, bump or edge.Therefore highlighting your imperfect walls.

Eggshell – Low sheen, but not flat. Eggshell is best for rooms with imperfect surfaces or bedrooms. Eggshell has an almost matte or flat appearance and is very smooth and hides bumps and dips fairly well. It’s not as easy to clean, but will stand up to an occasional wiping better than flat paint.

Flat – I never use flat, except….when painting ceilings. Then we grab our favorite ceiling paint: Valspar Flat Ultra White for maximum light reflection. (Read more about bright white ceilings HERE.) So, unless you are painting ceilings, don’t use flat, it is too chalky and hard to clean.

Just call me Ms. Mix-a-lot. How to Save $ by Mixing Your Own Paint:

Some of  the paints I mentioned can cost quite a pretty penny. So, I thought you might like to know the way I save money on paint. I frequently scour the “Oops” or “Mistint” paints. If I see a color that is close to what I want, I grab it. For my downstairs bathroom I spotted this sea green color and knew it was close to the color I wanted, but just a shade darker. All I needed to do was purchase an empty paint can and use some leftover white paint to mix a prefect color.

You can mix any two sheens as long as they are next to each other in the list above. In other words mixing gloss and semi-gloss is fine; semi-gloss and satin; satin and eggshell; or in my case eggshell and flat paint.  You definitely don’t want to mix a semi-gloss with a flat or eggshell. You might get some streaks and it is hard to mix.

Painting Like a Pro

To mix paint, I like to use this paint mixer attachment that fits on my drill. It is a dream come true for a custom paint mixer like myself.

Painting Like a Pro

Without going into too much color theory, here are two mixing formulas I like to use.

Keep in mind your paint color has to be fairly close to the final color you want before attempting these mixes.

Too vibrant, intense or bright – Let’s say you find a color that you like, but it is too intense and you want to dull or tone it down. You can add either black or brown paint (I use acrylic craft paint) to tone down the color. Pour some of your paint into an empty bucket or paint can, then add a big squeeze of black (or brown.) Mix it, put a dab on a piece of paper and dry it with a hair dryer (because I’m too impatient to wait.) Still too vibrant? Add more black (or brown) until it is the color you want. I used this method for my dormer hallway shutters. You’ll have to play with the mixing until you get the desired results.

Too dark, need a shade lighter – Add white paint to a bucket, then slowly add small amounts of your paint color and mix it. Put a dab on a piece of paper and dry it to check the color. Still too light? Add more color or if it is too dark, add more white.

I hope this post helps you find the perfect paint for your next paint job.

Other Steps in this Series:

Step 1. Prep work

Step 3. painting your room and finishing touches


Painting Like a Pro

47 replies
« Older CommentsNewer Comments »
  1. Stephanie
    Stephanie says:

    I have a 5 gallon of High gloss and a 5 gallon of semi gloss, if i were to mix them what sheen would happen? I have 4 kids and the house is older so the moisture never escapes. I just dont want to ruin the paint and am just trying to dull the high gloss a bit

  2. Renzo Diaz
    Renzo Diaz says:

    Use the flat paint of your preference if the room have high levels of moisture use sherwin williams duration extra white flat (moisture resistance) or worst case use promar200 low sheen. But the correct paint is ceiling paint

  3. Ron Conant
    Ron Conant says:

    I have a little different twist on “mixing paint”. I’ve mixed flat paint with matte paint of the exact same color to match the sheen of existing walls on a 12 year old house. It takes a bit of trial and error, mostly error, and some place to test the paint, like behind a door or in a pantry. The trick is to get it exactly right, then to write down what you did, so you can do it again. Even the same paint after several years might not have the same sheen when it is used to touch up places on an existing wall. It takes a little patience, but I’ve had good luck matching existing paint when nothing worked right out of the can and flat was too flat and matte was too shiny.

  4. Mar
    Mar says:

    Thanks for the tips on mixing different finishes of paint. I didn’t know if this was possible, now I’m going to try it. I ordered way too much paint for a project and can’t return it. Going to try & lighten it for another room. By the way, can you buy clean empty paint cans? You made it sound like you get them at the paint store.

  5. Tina Cook
    Tina Cook says:

    Hi there! I’m mixing paint colors, and I’ve i have question regarding an alternate way of mixing. I have a small budget and don’t want to buy a mixing attachment for my drill; can’t I just mix with a paint stick? Are there’s any negative results if I do so? Thanks so much!

    P.S. Love your blog! SO glad I found it!

  6. Cindi Watson
    Cindi Watson says:

    Thank you for this! I have been getting paints, mostly Benjamin Moore, from our recycling center reuse sheds. One day I picked up a satin without thinking. I have been getting eggshell. My husband said I couldn’t mix them. You showed him!

  7. sindy stabile
    sindy stabile says:

    Fyi. Behr Marquee comes with a 1 coat cover guarantee. Our tenants painted the bathroom and kitchen a deep garnet red, living RM and hallway 70’s eyeshadow blue and 1 wall dark taupe. I bought a light grey (dolphin grey) and told the guy at HM depot it was covering dark red. He SD it’s guaranteed or ur $ back. I SD ok. And no lie…it covered everything 1 coat and it’s $43 a gallon. I’m obsessed. It’s super thick.

    • KareN Del Fiorentino
      KareN Del Fiorentino says:

      This is so good to hear. I just bought the Behr Marquee to cover chocolate brown trim with white and one room which has red paint a soft Robin’s egg blue. The young man was said the paint was guaranteed one coat coverage but that I should primer it first which didn’t make a lot of sense to me and was more expensive. I’m going to test it out before I go through the time and expense to primer everything first.

  8. Monica Strickland
    Monica Strickland says:

    What ratio should you mix? I guess I never knew the difference between flat/eggshell/satin.
    I have a color I LOVE, but it is flat – bought to hide imperfections… Need to do the second coat, but am not liking the flat – not cleaning well at all.
    I have about half a 5 gallon bucket left of the flat paint.
    How much eggshell should/can I add so I have a better surface?

    I don’t want to have tons left over, but if I have a little, I can always save it for the next room. I loved the color so much, I seriously considered painting three rooms I just finished in other colors…

    Glad I googled and looked at this post – I was seriously going to add a gallon of satin, which I think is too shiny…

  9. Seana Larson
    Seana Larson says:

    I know you said you use flat on ceilings but when it come to a bathroom, do you use semi-gloss or a paint with a lesser sheen?

  10. kg
    kg says:

    I accidently mixed together some oil paint and some wb paint (for a custom color), but obv a mistake. Is there anything I can use this paint for? If not, how do I get rid of it? Thanks for your tips, have made a big difference in my painting!


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] Room: Sherwin Williams Quietude. This is another color match. Oftentimes I’ll mix several leftover paints until I get the desired color. Quietude is a close match and I’ve since seen the same color […]

  2. […] is still the brightest white I’ve found so I’ll still use it.) You can read more about which paint sheen to use and where in this post. (If you have newly drywalled or scraped ceilings, you’ll need to prime […]

« Older CommentsNewer Comments »

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.