Black has its place in the home, including in a theater room, master bedroom and on some ceilings, but sheen is as important as color. On the paint sheen and durability scale, satin sits midpoint -- above eggshell, low luster and matte, and below a few semi- and high-gloss finishes, with the latter group best suited for cabinets, trim and doors. Even though satin paint is only a few levels glossier than matte, the one you choose for particular projects greatly affects the results.
Not all walls are flawlessly finished but a couple coats of matte or flat paint that has high-hide properties makes flaws less visible. Such low-sheen paint is ideal for walls with poorly finished drywall, where joint-compound seams bulge or screws protrude, because it absorbs light rather than casting shadows. Reflective paint -- even mid-sheen satin paint -- bounces light from ripples, valleys or visible edges that weren't sanded properly, exaggerating each imperfection with shadows. Colorless black walls seem to recede. Use a black backdrop to showcase white or bright-colored furniture, accessories and trim; such stark contrast takes even more attention from poorly finished surroundings.
The More Washable Finish
Satin paint is easier to wipe clean than matte paint because of its smoother, less chalky finish. When you wash a surface painted with flat paint, a little paint color can come off along with the grime. Practical areas for washable satin-black paint include a family room feature wall, kids' bedrooms, a dramatic entryway or dining room. Satin paint is a good choice for the kitchen, while glossier paints are extremely easy to wipe clean and in black, suit doors and cabinets. Although pearl paint has a satin-like finish, it also has a sort of metallic quality, sometimes offering a glint of other colors from various angles. Pearl paint comes in custom tints or a clear finish, which you apply over standard paint.
The Durability Factor
The glossier the finish, the more durable the paint, meaning satin paint stands up to ordinary wear better than matte paint. Satin paint is favorable in kids' bedrooms where wear ranges from ordinary to "extraordinary"; however, flat black has a place in a child's bedroom in the form of chalkboard paint. Use flat-black paint in the master bedroom to control reflection for optimal restfulness, and on the dining-room ceiling, where it can highlight a standout chandelier.
A Good Drama
Decorating a theater room involves playing down the surroundings to optimize TV viewing. Black walls and a black ceiling form a dark setting, letting you focus on the screen. To avoid reflection on surrounding walls from the television's brightness, opt for a matte finish, but only if buttery little fingers won't venture from the popcorn to the surrounding surfaces. Low-sheen satin paint finds its place on trim, furniture or doors, adding slight definition, not distraction.
Sheen's Dark Side
The right sheen may be tricky to achieve, depending on factors including color saturation and how many units of gloss the manufacturer chooses to use. Dark paint colors such as black tend to appear glossier than light colors of the same sheen level because of the higher colorant content; higher colorant means higher sheen. So if you hope to achieve a black-satin finish such as on a feature wall, you may be more successful using paint with an eggshell finish.