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Matte (hide imperfections) or Satin (washability) on Stairwell Walls?

6 days ago

We have undertaken the massive job of drywalling over the old plaster walls in our enclosed stairway as they were in bad shape and with old lead paint underneath wallpaper we didn’t want to tear them out completely. Due to the age of the house, the imperfect underlying walls, and the tight difficult area to work it, the walls are just not perfect. There are places where there is bowing, where sanding was difficult, etc. I’m picking up paint today at Sherwin-Williams and am torn between doing a satin for washability, as this is a stairway wall and everyone loves to drag their hands down the wall when coming down (yes, there is a handrail) or a matte to the imperfections better.

Personally, I prefer a matte finish. It’s what I’ve used in all our bedrooms and I love how it looks, but the walls by my kids bed are dirty and I really can’t wash the dirt off. Full disclosure, I wasn’t doing it weekly, and maybe doing it regularly would make the difference. Also, I checked and these paints were the Cashmere line, so maybe Emerald or Duration would have been better.

I’ve chosen the SW Rainwashed color, which looks pretty dark in the stairway as there is almost no natural light coming in, but what does hits from the side. Which means I really am seeing the imperfections from the sheen in the test areas I painted. Perhaps dirt would also be less noticable than it is on the brighter colors in the kids' rooms.

Any thoughts or other considerations? What would you lean towards in this situation? Hiding (lots of) imperfections or washability? I’m trying to think if I’ve even painted with a satin before. I probably painted my kitchen walls in satin, SW First Star, and they came out nice, not sure they seem a ton more washable, I recently had to do a paint touch-up on the section next to the door as it noticeably dirtier and washing didn’t seem to so much. It’s a very light color though.

A picture of the bottom of the stairwell with a sample of the rainwashed.

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