Just when you think you have the difference between white, off-white, and cloud colours figured out, there's still the gloss levels to consider.
Gloss levels are affected by the quantity of the paint colour, other colours in the space, lighting and whether it is natural or artificial, and the gloss or sheen level of the paint. The higher the gloss level, the more light will bounce off a painted surface.
Generally speaking, you should avoid using glossy paints on walls and ceilings because they will highlight surface imperfections. Low sheen or flat paints will help to disguise dings and knicks.
This means that higher gloss paints are usually used in bathrooms, kitchens and laundries, as they complement the reflective surfaces and floors in these areas. Flat paints are popular in living and bedroom areas to match softer furnishings and decor.
There are five types of paint that give different levels of gloss.
Gloss paints are highly reflective, and their smoothness makes them much easier to clean than other paints.
Semi-gloss paints are exactly as they sound. Not as glossy as a full gloss, but more so than a flat paint.
Satin paints are in between glossy and flat. They are more stain resistant than flat paints are, but not quite as good at resisting stains as a fully gloss finish. They are becoming more popular as a roof paint option for this reason.
Low sheen paints are popular in living rooms, hallways, bedrooms and playrooms where some sheen is desired but there's still the need to be able to easily clean the area.
Flat paints conceal surface imperfections and diffuse light, making them great for walls and ceilings that are dented or rough. However, it is generally recommended that flat paints be used only in areas that are unlikely to get marked easily.
A gloss levels fandeck is available free for specifiers and professional decorators to show popular colours in gloss, and how that sheen can affect a colour.