Return to Painting and Decorating Library Index

How to Produce a Uniform Sheen on Your Walls

Uniform sheen makes your walls disappear and you look like a pro!

Well, not exactly disappear but rather not attract attention... the unwanted attention that splotchy, uneven walls can make your painting project look amateurish.  Perfection is not attainable, but you can mask many defects such as poor taping work, 2nd rate repairs and even minor wall bowing with the right choice of paint and painting techniques. 

What causes a wall to have an irregular sheen?

Sheen is a combination of the actual condition of the wall, the paint and the way light reflects off the wall.  For example, if the lighting on a wall is indirect such as window lighting, floor lamps or ceiling lamps, irregularities are not obvious since the way light reflects does not reach the eye directly.  Direct lighting, such as wall sconces or table lamps, can make even minor irregularities jump right off the wall as the eye can see them.  The type of lighting can effectively magnify the defects.

Simple steps for the best looking walls... minimize the effect of defects on the eye!

1) Do the best repairs you can!   The smoother your repairs are (picture hanger holes, nail pops, etc.). the less attention they will attract. 

2) Prime the entire wall... don't spot prime!  The biggest mistake amateur painters make is spot-priming repairs.  The reason is spot priming can cause an effect known as "flashing"... the finish paint over a spot-primed area appears to be more glossy than the surrounding paint.  These flashed areas can give the appearance of being a slightly different color and, in some cases, even multiple coats of finish paint will not correct the problem.

3) Choose flat paint for the greatest hiding ability.  Because flat paints have no inherent gloss, they are less likely to cause defects to "pop" into view.  The problem with flat paints is that they are less washable than glossier paints.  Choose the least amount of gloss that gives you the most durable finish.  I have moved to "matte" paint, which has the minimal gloss but still good washability.  It is quite a bit more expensive than flat paint, and the cost should be taken into consideration when planning any paint job.

4)  Use quality paint rollers and brushes.  Cheap rollers may look fine on the shelf and the low cost is tempting.  The problem is cheap rollers don't apply paint to the walls as smoothly.  Some even leave paint lines on the walls due to poor design.  Better quality rollers also hold more paint without dripping! Considering how much you are saving by doing it yourself, a few more dollars for a roller is really a bargain. 

Similarly, cheap paint brushes have bristles that do not hold much paint. Quality brushes not only hold more paint but the bristles have tips that are feathery, spreading the paint more evenly while their increased holding capacity speeds along your work.

Do it right now... you'll thank yourself later!!

Return to Painting and Decorating Library Index