Mixing Different Sheens of Paint

Whether you’re touching up existing paint or want to change the sheen in a room, you may wonder if it’s possible to mix flat, eggshell, satin, semi-gloss, and gloss paints together. The short answer is yes – with some caveats.

Mixing Different Sheens of Paint

When paints of varying sheens are combined, the resulting paint will have a finish somewhere between the sheens that were mixed. With proper mixing and testing, blending paints can allow you to easily and affordably customize the exact sheen you need.

Can You Mix Flat and Semi-Gloss Paint?

Yes, you can successfully mix flat and semi-gloss paint. The mixture will have a finish that falls somewhere between the two sheens, usually closer to a soft satin sheen.

There are a few tips to follow when mixing flat and semi-gloss paint:

  • Use paints from the same brand and both water-based or both oil-based. Mixing different bases is not recommended.
  • Mix the paints thoroughly using a drill mixer to incorporate them fully.
  • The ratio of flat to semi-gloss determines the final sheen. Equal parts creates a satin finish. More semi-gloss yields more sheen.
  • It’s hard to reproduce the exact sheen again, so mix all the paint needed for the full project upfront.
  • Test batches on cardboard or an inconspicuous area first to ensure the right sheen.

Adding semi-gloss to flat paint is an easy and affordable way to make flat paint slightly shinier and more washable without having to purchase an entirely different sheen. With sample testing, you can customize the perfect mid-level sheen.

What Happens When You Mix Flat and Gloss Paint?

Mixing flat and gloss paint is a bit more tricky but still possible. When combined, the paints will resist blending well, with the gloss paint tending to float to the top of the can.

To successfully mix flat and gloss paint:

  • Use a power drill mixer to stir the paints together vigorously. This helps properly incorporate them.
  • Mix small test batches first to get the right sheen. The gloss paint overpowers the flat, so start with small amounts of gloss paint.
  • More mixing and thinner coats are needed to overcome the separation issues.

Rather than mixing gloss paint directly with flat, it’s often easier to stir a gloss medium or clear acrylic varnish into the flat paint to increase its sheen. This blends better.

Can You Mix Different Sheens of Latex Paint?

Latex or water-based interior paints are commonly available in several sheens from flat up to semi-gloss. Within the latex paint category, it is possible to mix different sheens like flat, eggshell, satin, and semi-gloss.

Follow these tips when blending latex paint sheens:

  • Mix paints of the same brand and base for the best results.
  • Thoroughly stir or use a drill mixer to combine the paints into a uniform finish.
  • The sheen of the mixed paint will be somewhere between the two starting sheens. Mix test batches to match your desired sheen.
  • Mix all the paint needed for the full project beforehand to ensure color consistency.
  • Apply a couple coats of the blended paint for good coverage and an even sheen.

Mixing different sheens of latex paint allows endless possibilities to tweak the paint’s finish exactly how you want it. Satin, low luster soft sheens, and custom mid-range sheens are all achievable.

Is it Possible to Mix Oil-Based Paint Sheens?

Oil-based paints, also called alkyd enamels, are available in sheens ranging from flat to high gloss. As with latex paint, oil-based paints can be successfully mixed to create intermediate sheens.

Follow the same tips mentioned above when blending oil-based paints:

  • Mix only paints from the same brand and oil-based family.
  • Use an aggressive mixer or stir stick to incorporate the paints fully.
  • Test batches first to perfect the sheen level before painting larger areas.
  • Mix all the enamel paint needed for the full project to maintain color consistency.
  • Allow for longer dry times when using mixed oil-based paint.

Oil paints blend together better than mixing oil and latex paint. With thorough mixing and sample testing, combining paint sheens is a handy trick for achieving custom finishes.

Can You Mix Flat and Satin Paint?

Mixing together flat and satin paint will result in a finish that is lower in sheen than satin alone, generally closer to an eggshell finish. The ratio of flat to satin paint determines where the sheen will fall between flat and satin.

To blend flat and satin latex paints:

  • As always, use paints from the same brand and water-based formula.
  • Mix the paints thoroughly with a drill mixer to combine them seamlessly.
  • Start with small test batches to match the desired sheen before scaling up.
  • Mix enough blended paint for the entire project at once.

Painting over a surface with varying sheens can result in uneven patches as the paint sheens interact differently. Mixing the sheens beforehand creates a uniform eggshell-like finish that avoids this issue.

How Do You Make Flat Paint More Glossy?

There are a couple options for giving flat paint a boost in sheen:

Mix in a gloss paint or varnish – Add small amounts of gloss paint or medium to flat paint, starting with 1-2 tablespoons per gallon. Mix thoroughly and test on samples until the sheen is achieved.

Add extender or Floetrol – Extender and Floetrol help flatten paint, but adding small amounts to flat paint can make it shinier. Start with a half pint per gallon and mix and test well.

Apply a clear topcoat – Use a gloss or semi-gloss clear acrylic topcoat over fully cured flat paint. This seals the paint and adds sheen.

With the right products and some trial and error, it’s straightforward to modify flat paint for a deeper, more washable sheen.

Turning Flat Paint into Semi-Gloss

The easiest way to turn flat paint into a semi-gloss finish is by stirring a clear acrylic semi-gloss medium or varnish into the paint.

Follow this simple process:

  • Use a high-quality 100% acrylic medium for the best results.
  • Start by adding 1-2 tablespoons of medium per quart of flat paint.
  • Use a drill mixer to incorporate the medium thoroughly.
  • Test batches on cardboard until the desired sheen is achieved.
  • Mix enough semi-gloss medium into the paint for the full project upfront.

The medium blends seamlessly with the flat paint to create a uniform semi-gloss finish. Sample testing eliminates guesswork. This technique also allows customizing the exact sheen needed.

Can You Mix Eggshell and Semi-Gloss Paint?

Yes, eggshell and semi-gloss paints can be mixed successfully. The process is the same as blending other latex paint sheens:

  • Use latex paints from the same brand.
  • Stir or mix the paints vigorously to unify them.
  • The sheen of the mixture will fall between eggshell and semi-gloss.
  • Test batches first to match your ideal sheen.
  • Mix enough blended paint for the full project before starting.
  • Apply two coats for full coverage and an even sheen.

The resulting sheen is usually around a satin finish, with small tweaks possible through the mixing ratio. With thorough blending and sampling, eggshell and semi-gloss paint mix well.

Can I Paint Flat Over Semi-Gloss Without Sanding?

Painting flat paint over semi-gloss walls or trim is possible without sanding by using a specialty primer:

  • Use an adhesion primer like Zinsser Cover Stain or Bulls Eye 123 to prime existing semi-gloss surfaces. This helps flat paint adhere.
  • Apply the primer according to manufacturer directions to completely seal the semi-gloss layer.
  • Once primed, apply at least two coats of flat paint.
  • For best results, scuff sand semi-gloss surfaces before priming to degloss and create a key for the paint.

While priming alone can work, lightly sanding provides superior smoothness and adhesion. An adhesion primer formulated for slick surfaces is vital for skipping sanding. Proper prep is key to avoid flat paint failing over semi-gloss.

Mixing Different Color Paints

In addition to varying the sheen, can you mix interior paint colors to create custom hues?

The answer is yes, though following some guidelines will ensure the best results when mixing paint colors:

  • Only mix paints of the same brand, sheen, and base (latex or oil-based).
  • Stir thoroughly using a drill mixer to incorporate the colors fully.
  • Start by mixing colors in small test batches to achieve the desired hue before scaling up.
  • Mixing more of one color than the other will subdue or strengthen the tones.
  • Add a few ounces of white, black, or gray paint to lighten, darken, or neutralize mixed colors.
  • Only make enough paint for the current project so all walls and trim match.

With proper mixing ratios and testing, you can tweak existing paint colors into endless custom shades. This allows color matching flexibility.

Touching Up Paint with Different Sheens

When needing to spot paint a wall that has faded or touch-up existing trim, matching the original paint sheen is ideal. However, you may find the old paint cans are long gone or the paint color is discontinued.

In these situations, here are some tips for touching up existing paint finishes as seamlessly as possible:

  • For small nicks and scratches, use painter’s putty or drywall compound to patch holes, sand smooth, then spot paint. The texture helps hide sheen differences.
  • When touching up large areas, apply a thin coat of primer similar in sheen to create a uniform surface to paint.
  • Feather out the new paint along the edges to help blend sheens.
  • Change the lighting or paint the entire wall or trim piece to disguise variations in sheen.

With careful prep and application, it is possible to get touch-ups to match the original paint fairly well. But larger repairs may require repainting entire surfaces for a perfect sheen match.

Can You Tint Different Sheens the Same Color?

While paint sheens can be mixed, what about tinting different sheens to the same exact color? This is dependent on the tint compatibility:

  • Most latex paint can be tinted to match a color regardless of sheen. So flat, eggshell, and semi-gloss all can be tinted to the same custom hue.
  • Oil-based paints usually need to be color-matched within the same sheen. So gloss enamels cannot be tinted to match flat colors.
  • Ask at the paint counter about brand-specific tinting capabilities across sheens. Some have wider compatibility than others.

Tinting matching flat and glossy paint colors is not reliable due to how the sheens reflect light. But all latex sheens can usually be matched, providing color consistency throughout a home’s different paint finishes.

Paint Sheen Recommendations by Room

Choosing the right sheen for each room in your home is important for aesthetics and durability. Here are some general sheen guidelines by room:

  • Living Rooms & Bedrooms – Flat or eggshell on walls for an attractive subtle sheen. Satin or semi-gloss for trim.
  • Kitchens & Bathrooms – Eggshell or satin on walls for moisture resistance. Semi-gloss trim for easy cleaning.
  • Kid’s Rooms – Eggshell or satin walls that are scrubbable. Semi-gloss trim for durability.
  • Entryways & High Traffic Areas – Satin or semi-gloss paints for washability. Gloss on railings and banisters.

Consider the room’s use, lighting, and your aesthetic preferences when choosing sheens. The great news is you can customize any sheen with mixed paints.

FAQs About Mixing Interior Paint Sheens

Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about successfully mixing interior latex and oil-based paint sheens:

What happens if you don’t mix paint thoroughly?

Inadequate mixing leads to uneven finishes with splotchy patches of different sheens. Always mix well with a drill mixer.

Should I add an extender when mixing sheens?

No. Extender is used to flatten paint rather than blend sheens. For best results, do not add any additives besides gloss medium.

Do I have to prime before painting with blended sheens?

Priming is not mandatory, but it helps achieve an even finish. An adhesion primer is recommended for slick or glossy surfaces.

How do I get rid of lap marks when using mixed sheens?

Avoiding lap marks requires maintaining a wet edge and painting the full wall or trim piece in one session. Using a high-quality mini roller helps too.

Can I reuse my custom mixed sheen paint for touch-ups later?

Save some of the blended paint for touch-ups. But be aware the sheen may be hard to recreate exactly if more paint is needed.

With the proper techniques, almost any latex or oil-based paint sheen can be mixed to create custom finishes. Take the time to test batches and find your perfect ratio.

Achieving the Ideal Paint Sheen for Any Project

The ability to mix interior paint sheens makes it possible to easily and affordably achieve the perfect paint finish for any room or surface. By blending flat, eggshell, satin, semi-gloss, and gloss paints, you can tweak sheens to your desired level of shine and washability.

Follow the tips outlined here for mixing sheens successfully. With some upfront planning and test batches, you’ll be able to customize any paint sheen your projects call for. The possibilities are endless!

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