Flat (or matte) paint has its advantages. The low reflectivity can make trouble spots less noticeable. It is also easy to patch up. Flat paint takes to rough surfaces and blends over patches. Because it is so forgiving to imperfections and easy to apply it is a common finish on new construction.
Our problem here in Topsail is humidity. We have it in abundance. What’s great about flat paint is that it’s easy to touch up. What’s not so great is it is a magnet for moisture and quickly becomes dingy. Flat paint isn’t suggested for high traffic areas in the home, but it’s also hard to maintain when there is so much moisture in the air.
The very feature that makes flat paint matte is what’s problematic with the humidity. The rougher surface of the dried paint gives moisture the traction it needs to stick to walls. When this happens, surfaces can become dirty. And flat paint can’t be scrubbed like glossier paints because it ruins the finish. Over time, moisture can reach the drywall and cause it to warp. A seal can be used over the paint or a water-based primer set on the drywall before painting to lessen the impact of humidity.
For moisture-prone homes, an eggshell finish paint achieves a similar look as flat but without the inconveniences. With soap, water, and a dish rag the walls can be cleaned without much fuss.
Along with finish, there are other considerations over what paint to choose where there is high humidity. Acrylic paint, for instance, is preferable to oil-based paints and less likely to flaky and blister.
Think of all this humidity as a reminder the ocean is only a heartbeat away. Think about how wonderful that ocean breeze is. And next time you think about painting remember to reconsider flat paint. For humidity’s sake.