Flat paint - is it cleanable?

RPK42May 6, 2013

We are building a house and the builder is going to prime the walls and then spray one coat of flat paint all over. I have 3 kids and one dog, in my experience flat paint is not scrubbable so I was thinking we would go with an eggshell finish instead. Does anyone have experience with flat paint that is cleanable? Pro's cons?

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Builders use flat paint because it hides the flaws made by the drywallers. Flat paint is not scrub-able, in my experience.

And one coat of paint, flat or otherwise, isn't going to hold up well against 3 kids and a dog.

On the other hand, one advantage of flat paint is that it touches up better than the glossier surfaces. So you could find out the brand name and color the builder uses and buy a gallon and keep it on hand for touchups.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 10:08AM
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BM Regal Matte is very scrubbable. I have had it in my kitchen as a painted backsplash for 7 years. I scrub it all the time. It contains ceramic in the paint. You must let it cure for 30 days before you scrub it. After that it is perfect. I agree 100% that you need to have 2 coats. Hope this helps in your decision. c

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 10:30AM
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Behr's "flat enamel" is also washable.

Make sure you have the painter use something besides the cheapo contractor grade stuff.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 10:48AM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance Zone 9b

Always have extra paint on hand. I keep mine in a sealed jar with seran floating on top so it doesn't get that skin on it. It's much easier to touch up with fresh paint that matches than scrub!

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 10:55AM
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The flat paint I have is not scrubbable. It is from Ben Moore. Pretty sure they do have a flat or matte paint that they do say is scrubbable, that's just not what I bought.

I'm in the process of repainting to eggshell not only bc of the scrubbing issue, but also because my house is very dark and the extra sheen helps bounce the light around more.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2013 at 10:31AM
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Don't let him put a quick coat of cheap builder's flat on your walls. It is trouble down the road. You won't get a rich finish with one coat of paint, either.

Buy the best primer and paint you can. BM has matte paints that are scrubbable (2% sheen). Some manufacturers call these 2% paints flat even though they are not completely flat. They do this for product performance and so people can wash them. That amount of sheen is negligible for most people.

I would recommend Aura or Regal by BM. Matte is good for good touchup capability. They have a bath & spa too. Their Fresh Start primer is supposed to be very good. The paint is a worthwhile place to spend your money. It's the labor that's so expensive.

This post was edited by snookums2 on Tue, May 7, 13 at 10:48

    Bookmark   May 7, 2013 at 10:45AM
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Thanks for the great advice everyone! Sounds like we'll either need to add to the cost of the house for a quality paint job or just do it ourselves.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2013 at 1:35PM
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We have Sherwin Williams on our walls and it looks flat, but is a latex eggshell. It actually feels velvety, and when the movers made some scuffs, I thought we'd have to do touchups. Then the builder's supt whipped out Magic Eraser and the scuffs came right off. You can buy it at the grocery store. Just moisten it slightly, squeeze it out, and rub. It works really well!

    Bookmark   May 7, 2013 at 11:18PM
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Magic Erasers are great but test it in an inconspicuous area first It's a mild sandpaper. I'm surprised the eggshell didn't show where it was used. Is there good light in that area?

    Bookmark   May 8, 2013 at 12:10AM
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The Sherwin Williams eggshell that I have is very scrubbable, but it it is not flat, by a long shot. Maybe the flatness depends upon which formulation, e.g., Duration, Emerald, etc.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2013 at 8:22AM
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I'm not sure of my SW formulation...I had picked another brand and the painters had it made up in SW. I'll have to admit that when I saw the finish, I thought they'd goofed and used matte since it's not like any eggshell I've seen before. The places we've tried the magic eraser have good light, and I haven't noticed any issues with the finish being affected, but then I was so glad to have the black marks gone, perhaps my glee was premature. Frankly though, for me, if I have to look that hard, the finish must not be too noticeably affected since that was months ago.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2013 at 10:42PM
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I use a SW Emerald matte that is scrubbable. My walls are painted bright white and I've had to scrub crayon off numerous times. Always comes off very well and the paint doesn't wear down to one of the other zillions of colors I've painted in the past. I'm so glad that I made the leap to a better paint as it has made a huge difference. I used to always use cheaper lines including cheaper SW lines. So glad I finally upgraded!

    Bookmark   May 9, 2013 at 9:10AM
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My personal choice is flat or matte. You can clean it with mild soap and sponge, but be gentle. I don't think you can really "scrub" any paint, even the best quality ones, without it wearing off.

So keep extra paint for touch ups.

There's a great trick to touching up paint successfully (thanks to the Ellen Kennon website):

Number one rule. Never touch up matte paint until it has dried for 24 hours. To make it less noticeable, wait for 2 days. Use a small foam brush as the tool. Dampen it.Stir well. Dip the foam brush and dab the paint over the damaged area. Do not rub it on or brush it on, dab it on. Two thin coats is better than one thick coat. In some instances, if it has been a long time, to ensure a better "match" mix one tablespoon of paint to 1/2 teaspoon of water.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2013 at 9:04PM
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If you use BM Regal matte the paint people will tell you to use a brush to scrub not a rag or sponge. I bought a med. soft bristle brush from the dealer for that purpose . The paint is designed to literally be scrubbed. If you rub it with a sponge or cloth it will burnish and it will show. Just an FYI. I haven't tried the SW paints. It has been 7 years now and you can't tell that it has been scrubbed weekly behind the cooktop. It still looks like the rest of the walls in the kitchen. c

    Bookmark   May 10, 2013 at 2:13AM
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