If you don’t have a huge amount of experience with decorating or painting, then the various finishes and types of paint can be a bit confusing.
This is only made worse when shopping online because it’s hard to truly appreciate the finish when looking at the photos from manufacturers.
As you’ve probably already discovered there are 5 main types of paint finishes that you will find most commonly used, and in no particular order they are:
- Gloss (Most common for trim work such as window frames and doors)
- Vinyl Silk Emulsion
- Matt (Most common for walls and ceilings)
But back to the question at hand.
What Is The Difference Between Matt and Silk Paint?
The main difference between Matt Emulsion and Vinyl Silk paints is that Matt paints do not reflect light under different lighting conditions. This ensures a uniform colour across your walls regardless of light direction and brightness. Silk paints give a slight sheen to your walls, which can bounce light and appear in slightly different colours.
In summary, Matt Emulsion paints produce a chalky finish that is designed to appear as ‘flat’ as possible (the chalky feeling walls you find in most homes). The main difference is that Silk paints offer a mild but diffused shimmer, similar to that of Silk the material when you have lots of light in the room.
There are advantages and disadvantages to both (although both are water-based), so you may want to consider the following before making your decision.
Advantages to Matt Paint
Because it is non-reflective Matt paint is much better at hiding imperfections in your walls, such as lumps, bumps or even areas. Anything above a regular Matt paint can really highlight uneven walls as the light bounces.
I also should mention that there are two different types of Matt paint, regular Matt and Flat Matt. With Flat Matt being even more chalky in appearance. For a general bedroom wall, most would go down this route, with the exception of a feature wall.
Flat Matt is perfect for walls that really are not in condition (either sprayed or brushed) and could ideally benefit from completely replastering at some point. If in doubt, use this option as your OCD will thank you for it later.
If you just have minor surface imperfections, slight surface imperfections, or marks then opt for the regular version.
Advantages to Vinyl Silk Paint
Silk paint is considered a ‘mid-sheen’ finish (similar to Satin finishes), meaning that it’s somewhere between emulsion and gloss in the reflective scale. It will give you a mid shiny finish that isn’t fully reflective but does offer a soft sheen.
The advantage of this is that you can wipe the surface with a damp cloth without affecting the finish or leaving damp spots. This type of paint can be a game-changer for parents that suffer from sticky finger marks with kids running around grabbing corners of walls.
Unlike gloss finish paints on your doors and window frames, it’s not a fully reflective finish so you won’t be able to see your reflection don’t worry 🙂
To Summarize Everything…
Your main consideration should be the quality of your walls. If you have less-than-perfect walls, then opt for a Matt finish every time.
Both are water-based paint, but Vinyl Silk is water-resistant which makes it easier to clean and more suited to bathrooms or kitchens with high levels of moisture. Bathrooms often have less light than main living areas, so the silk finish won’t highlight wall imperfections quite as much.
Hopefully, that has given you a good understanding of the core differences between the two different types and which you should be using where.
I’ve got a guide on the Best Emulsion Paints in the UK if you need further guidance on which products to buy or need more recommendations on paint for walls or ceilings.