Exterior Paint Advice - Flat or Satin

sweetbabyjames5March 26, 2012

I am in need of some advice. We are about to have our 50yo home painted. The colorist we hired advised us to use FLAT paint on the siding, shutters, garage door, downspouts. My painter thinks we should use SATIN. I was planning to use SW Duration. The siding is old and definitely has imperfections but is not in need of replacement. I've heard that flat paint will hide the imperfections, but I've also heard that it will look dirty (the color will be a light beige.) Paint experts - what do you advise?

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Faron79

You couldn't PAY me enough to use Flat on the main body of MY house...or...ANYWHERE outside.

Some brands have a low sheen, which would be OK, but I'd use Satin.
C2 has a great low-sheen "Eggshell" Exterior.

On doors/trims, use Satin, preferably Semi-gloss.

Hopefully....correct prep/washing/scraping/sanding, and possible priming are in the cards too?!?!?!

Faron

    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 12:17AM
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Christopher Nelson Wallcovering and Painting

LIsten to the painter, they know things. The "colorist" not so much.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 4:55AM
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sweetbabyjames5

Thanks for your responses. Yes, prep has been going on for well over two weeks. My husband and I feel they are doing an amazing job. Will definitely go with satin on the body. Would it look weird to use satin on the trim, as well? We are using SW Duration and there isn't a semi-gloss, only gloss. I feel that may be too shiny. So, now we're thinking about doing satin everywhere.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 7:29AM
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paintguy22

Satin is fine.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 1:44PM
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Lori A. Sawaya

The colorist we hired advised us to use FLAT paint on the siding

Ask him/her if they have ever lived with an exterior painted with flat paint. It sucks. Especially if it's a light color. But you kinda don't know unless you can compare. Meaning you don't understand, really get, how much easier satin is to care for/maintain unless you've had both experiences. One of the major advantages to flat finish is that it's easy to touch up. How often does an exterior need touched up? It's not like interior. With exterior the *function* of the finish is much different from interior. You need to be able to hose dirt, grime, salt, etc. off your house.

Satin is the perfect sheen level for exterior IMO. It's like the Goldilocks paint choice. Not too flat like flat and not too shiny like a semi-gloss. It's just right.

:)

    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 6:58PM
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kendog2

I'm no paint expert but I have experience with both flat and satin exterior paint. I much prefer the look of flat walls over shiny. Our home exterior was originally painted with flat for the trim and body. When it was time to re-paint, I requested flat. The paint salesperson suggested that satin would provide a better quality finish. I took his advice and I'm very glad I did. We live in an area that gets hot summer sun. At times, there is a lot of wind that blows dirt onto the house. Five years after painting with satin, when I hose off the house the dirt slides right off and the paint still looks nearly as good as new. (I did scrape the loose paint and used primer.) Although satin isn't my favorite, I'll gladly live with a slight sheen in exchange for not having to re-paint nearly as often.

In case anyone is wondering, the paint we used is Behr Satin Exterior. I'm almost ashamed to admit here that I bought that brand. (It was before I read all of the information on this site about better brands of paint.) I would never use Behr again for painting interior trim, cabinets or furniture but I like their interior flat wall paint and their exterior paints. I haven't tried the expensive brands because they don't fit my budget and I'm afraid I might change my mind about the color midway through projects.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 9:33PM
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Faron79

Another classic from Fun-C!!

The "Goldilocks" paint sheen....I love it!

Flat-
Yes...I do kinda like the LOOK of it better.
BUT...real-life is real-life, and I want the home to at least clean itself sometimes!!

Faron

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 12:10AM
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Lori A. Sawaya

Exactly, Faron.

I should have also mentioned that you really do have to check out sheen levels brand to brand. One brand's semi-gloss might not be all that shiny but in another brand semi-gloss is darn near a high gloss.

Satin, eggshell, semi-gloss are actually all good considerations for exterior. Just depends on the brand and also the color.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 2:51AM
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paintguy1

While some of the cheaper flats with a high pigment to resin ratio do tend to exacerbate dirt pick up, a high quality flat will not. Also, keep in mind that there are great swaths of homes with stucco siding where a sheen may not be desired.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 8:53AM
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sweetbabyjames5

So it seems like most people feel satin is better for an exterior in most cases. Paintguy - our siding is wood, older with imperfections. What would be the advantages to using a flat over a satin? Is SW Duration in flat a good quality paint? We live in south Texas where are summer are long, sunny, and hot. We also get a fair amount of rain and humidity. Leaning towards satin now, but just not 100% sure yet.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 9:31AM
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paintguy22

I've never used Duration but there is a diffence between flat exterior paint and Duration Flat I believe. I know it's confusing, but a washable flat is different than a regular flat. A regular flat paint is cheap and porous and this is the kind of paint you do not really want on your house because it will be hard to clean. Think of Duration Flat as a washable paint with a sheen lower than satin. To some it may appear to have no sheen at all. This is probably a good choice if you are looking for a paint that will have low shine but still be cleanable. Having low shine is especially a good thing if your wood has imperfections that you want to hide.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 1:18PM
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Lori A. Sawaya

Duration exterior comes in matte, not flat - it certainly can't be mistaken for a flat finish. Duration matte is just slightly less shiny than BenM's Mooregard exterior satin. (on average light to midtone colors only)

It really does all depend on what brand, color and as pg1 mentioned even what tier/grade. Higher quality flats do function better but also tend to show shinier compared to cheaper grades.

Very confusing for the consumer and all you can do is your homework. Definitely explore, ask questions, evaluate samples. Most important is don't rush.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 8:34PM
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paintguy22

From their website:

Available in flat, satin and gloss finishes

Finishes
Flat
This non-shiny finish is great for hiding surface imperfections because it deflects the light.

Satin
With its slight gloss, this finish offers the benefits of a richer look.

Gloss
This lustrous, durable finish is great for windows, doors and trim or any area that you would like to highlight.

So, I don't know....never bought it before. It's stil difficult these days even for painters to figure out the terminology. Some mattes are flats and flats are washable, so we end up reading the can or looking at the price tag to figure out if it's washable or not....so silly.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2012 at 1:16AM
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Faron79

Hey PG-

Have you used the C2 EGGSHELL Exterior?
To ME, it's almost "Flat"!

Yet the FPE Eurolux "Matte" I used in my bathroom, is shinier than some Interior Eggshells!

Faron

    Bookmark   March 29, 2012 at 1:24AM
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paintguy22

It's funny you should ask about the C2 exterior eggshell. I was just back to a job I painted maybe 3 years ago and noticed the doors I painted there have pretty much no sheen at all. They are holding up great though, but I guess that sheen fades down to almost nothing. I swear they had some sheen when I painted them initially, but products change....seems like they change every 3 months these days.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2012 at 12:22PM
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Faron79

Yeah-

The few C2 Exterior "Eggs" I've seen look nearly FLAT a month after being applied!
I did play around with some it at the store, and even the samples I did that stayed inside dried to a VERY low sheen...the same day!!

It's just a VERY low sheen Eggshell!

Faron

    Bookmark   March 29, 2012 at 3:46PM
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Jumpilotmdm

Hire someone else for your paint advice. There are very few places i would recommend flat on the exterior of a home.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2012 at 2:36PM
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Lori A. Sawaya

Okay, I give.

Also from the SW site about Duration INTERIOR: "Matte - This flat finish is great for hiding surface imperfections, while its angular shine helps make walls smooth and washable."

How about this. The lowest sheened finish SW offers in their Duration products interior and exterior would not align with what most people would describe as a dead flat or very flat finish.

There is a hint of sheen - angular or otherwise - whatever - there is a bit of sheen.

Paintguy, Faron and funcolors (me) are struggling to get on the same just to discuss the topic. Truly. If that doesn't underscore how confusing sheen levels are, I don't know what does. :)

    Bookmark   March 31, 2012 at 12:47AM
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tuesday_2008

FC, PG, and Faron - Just curious - Are the "sample" pieces of molding that most paint departments have on display true to the actual sheen? I always look at that when buying paint. Not really sure if each store has a sample for every "grade" they have.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2012 at 12:46PM
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Lori A. Sawaya

It's true to the actual sheen of the brand/grade/flavor of paint they used to paint it.

If you're not buying that brand/grade/flavor of paint, then it doesn't mean a whole lot.

The other issue is color. A sample painted in a specific brand/grade/flavor & sheen in white will show differently from the same painted in a dark blue, for example.

Color (and/or colorant per se) affects and influences perception of sheen.

There's really nothing easy, direct or finite when it comes to discussions about sheen.

Only way to know for sure what you have to work with is to buy a quart of the brand/grade/flavor/sheen/color and look at it.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2012 at 4:25PM
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Lori A. Sawaya

Should also mention another option is to just let it go and roll with it.

Adjust your expectations and decide that a few degrees shift in sheen, shinier or less shiny, isn't important in the grand scheme. Make up your mind that as long as it's in the ballpark of flat, matte, or whatever it's going to be okay. And then move on.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2012 at 4:30PM
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