Matt or Silk Paint: What to use when Decorating?

It’s time for a spring clean, it’s finally time to decorate the house extension, the kids are away for Christmas/Summer Holidays, and you need to redecorate before they get back. Whatever the reason you are picking up a paintbrush and tackling the paint rollers – you need to know which type of paint to use? It’s one of the most popular questions we get asked about decorating your home: Matt or Silk paint? or Eggshell?

Decorate your House: Matt or Silk Paint?

So off to the aisles of your local DIY store or decorator’s merchants we go, to stand, staring at all the different paint tins, labels, paint brands, and sample cards wondering what colour little Jimmy would really love in his room.

But before you settle on the paint colour – stop and consider the paint type and finish first. What’s the most appropriate paint to use for that space? Matt or Silk paint?

Decorate your House: Matt or Silk Paint?
All the colours of the rainbow. If the rainbow was mostly blue.

What are the different types of paint?:

Matt Paint

Even that question isn’t as straightforward as you might think as sometimes you will see it written as Matt paint, and sometimes you will see the paint tin labesl say Matte Paint. Both are the same paint – it’s just a different between British English and American English spellings.

Matt Paint gives a matte finish, and it is a water-based paint with a low reflection of light, it feels slightly rougher to the touch. Matt paint tends to be used on interior walls and ceilings. Matt paint covers imperfections better and doesn’t draw attention to lumps and bumps.

Low-quality matt paint brands can smudge or wipe off if you are trying to scrub off sticky finger marks, child-thrown food, or wonderfully creative drawings from your little angels. If child-instigated paint additions are likely then you still have matt options; try one of the more premium matt paint brands such as Dulux Endurance or Diamond Matt.

Is Matt a colour?

No. When deciding Matt or Silk paint, remember that these are paint finishes, not colours.

Decorate your House: Matt or Silk Paint?

Is Matt or Glossy Better?

It all depends on the room you are decorating, the surface or material that you are painting, and what final effect is that you want the painted surface to have?

And it’s not even a straight two-way decision on whether matt or gloss paint is better? What about matt or silk paint? Or eggshell?

Let’s have a look at the paint finishes other than matt paint.

Silk Paint

Silk paint is also water-based, it gives a more shiny finish than matt paint, and silk paint reflects light well. It is smoother to the touch.

Silk paint is commonly used for kitchens and bathrooms and high-moisture areas as it has a tougher finish and less texture on it’s surface area to absorb moisture.

Silk paint is easy to wipe down and easier to scrub off marks, so it is a popular paint finish if you have young children.

One slight negative consequence of using silk paint vs matt paint is that because of the way that silk paint reflects the light more than matt paint, any imperfections in the wall finish are more obvious. So make sure that you sand down your instant wall filler with some fine-grade sandpaper and get all those lumps, bumps, and picture hook holes covered up and smoothed over before you start painting.

Gloss Paint

Gloss paint is what most of us would naturally reach for when decorating skirting boards, interior and exterior doors, door frames, and most other woodwork in your home.

Gloss paint gives a reflective finish, and it is the most shiny paint finish of any of the paint finishes that we’ve discussed in this article.

Gloss paint tends to be used for woodwork and radiators. Gloss paint is solvent-based, so that means that it takes longer to for gloss paint to dry but as it dries, the surface of the paint smoothes itself over and the gloss paint manages to hide a lot of imperfections in the surface that you are painting.

Decorate your House: Matt or Silk Paint?
Hang on. Are you sure you stirred these paint tins enough?

But what about the paint? Is it gloss or matt or silk paint?

So if you are now thoroughly educated and confused about what type of paint finish you require for your new interior design project then fear not. We have one last solution for you when deciding whether to use matt or silk paint. Don’t use either. Go for a happy medium. Try eggshell.

Eggshell Paint

Eggshell paint is a mid-sheen finish, which is commonly referred to as a ‘Satin’ finish if used for woodwork.

Eggshell paint is to be used if a gloss finish is not desired but you want a little more light in your home and you want more light than just using a bright paint colour, you want the paint finish to reflect marginally more light – but not to be shiny like a gloss paint finish would be.

Between a Matt and Silk/Satin finish, eggshell (or satin) is the perfect halfway house paint finish. It is literally, like its name, a finish similar to that of an egg shell.

Let’s get painting

So in conclusion, there are a number of different paint finishes that you can choose from when buying paint to redecorate your home.

Matt, silk, gloss, eggshell, satin. All different paint finishes that are suitable for different uses. Think about more than colour when choosing your paint. Decide what you want your paint to do: easy wipe? light reflective? hard-wearing? Now you just need to choose the colour.

James Cole

James Cole is the Group Editor for Sailfin Magazines and oversees our titles and content creation. He's literally the person who dots our 'i's and crosses our 't's across our Home and Garden Magazine section, our Family and Parenting Magazine, our Life & Wellbeing Magazine, Our Travel and Tourism Magazine, and our Business and Work sections.