I just built a half wall at the top of my stairs, and I need to blend it in with the existing wall.

The wall I'm blending in to is a wall in a stair well, so it's really tall and difficult for a typical homeowner to paint. Because of this, I'm guessing it has never been repainted.

It's white so matching color shouldn't be difficult, but I'm just not sure of the sheen. I don't have the time to paint the whole wall right now, so I'm just going to blend in as best I can.

since I don't think it's ever been repainted, if I knew what builders typically used it would be helpful. So what is the most common paint sheen used by builders?

This is in the northeastern United States.

  • Is the wall textured? Many walls have an "orange-peel" texture. Also, can you take a sample of the existing paint into the paint store? I once took a sample of my concrete foundation in, and got a plausible match for color and sheen.
    – Jasper
    Commented Nov 29, 2014 at 5:34
  • You will be surprised how many versions of white there is for paint. And they can be very different when sitting next to each other in sunlight. Personally I would just repaint the entire area in a color/sheen you like.
    – diceless
    Commented Dec 1, 2014 at 19:08

2 Answers 2


I don't know your location, but in most residential jobs I've worked on the US east coast the wall finish is flat latex for walls, semi-gloss latex for doors, trims, baseboards, etc.


I've found it often depends on the quality of the dwelling. Most apartments I've lived in have flat paint through and through, since it's generally the cheapest and covers up poor mudding jobs because it doesn't reflect light. When I upgraded to a house, most of the living areas were still flat paint, but the bathrooms were finished in eggshell. The rule of thumb is the more reflective the sheen, higher the relative expensive of the paint (usually only by a few dollars a gallon, but it ads up for a builder). So if the builder doesn't have a reason to use a higher sheen, then they most likely won't.

My guess is that it's most likely flat, since it's not in a wet area. However, sometimes high traffic areas are finished in eggshell for durability. The difference between flat and eggshell is usually much easier to tell than eggshell and satin or higher. Does it feel rough at all when you run your hand across it? Then it's flat. If it's somewhat smooth, it's most likely eggshell.

Also, are you sure it's white-white, and not one of the million variants of almost-white that paint manufacturers like to cook up? The best bet is to chip off a small portion and get it color matched. The paint store may even be able to tell you the sheen as well. You're painting next to it anyway, so a small mud patch shouldn't be too much trouble.

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