Choosing a paint color is only half the task. You must also decide on a finish. Learn which types work best in which rooms with this handy guide to interior paint finishes.
Flat/Matte Paint Finishes
These types of finishes absorb more light than they reflect. This makes them an excellent option for imperfect walls and ceilings. If the taping job on your drywall isn’t the best, go with a flat/matte paint. It will leave behind a smooth finish.
One downside of flat/matte finishes is that they absorb dirt, making them difficult to keep clean unless you purchase a scrubbable paint. Most homeowners opt to touch up instead of spot clean, though.
Best uses: Walls and ceilings in low-traffic areas such as hallways, dining room, living room and bedrooms, with the exception of a child’s room.
Eggshell Paint Finish
Best uses: Walls in dining room, living room, bedrooms, foyer and on trim. It also proves preferable to flat/matte in the kitchen but does not work as well as other finishes.
Satin Paint Finish
One downside of a satin finish becomes evident if touchups are required. The difference in sheen will be noticeable.
Best uses: Walls in dining room, living room, adult and children’s bedrooms, laundry room, kitchen, bathrooms and on windows, doors and trim.
Semi-Gloss Paint Finish
This higher-sheen finish reflects even more light, creating brightness and shine. It offers durability as well as resistance to moisture. Because semi-gloss resists water and humidity and is scrubbable, they are a top choice for the kitchen and bathrooms.
The downside of semi-gloss is that it shows imperfections so therefore requires more prep work to ensure best results and are also difficult to touch up because of the difference in sheen.
Best uses: Walls in kitchen, bathrooms and hallways and on cabinets, doors, trim and molding.
Glossy Paint Finish
Because it reflects the most light, this finish offers the most shine-looking almost like enamel or plastic. It offers even more durability than a semi-gloss as well as higher resistance to moisture. A glossy finish can be scrubbed without fear of removing the paint.
Because of the high reflection factor, though, this type of finish reveals the most imperfections, therefore requiring the most prep work. And just as with semi-gloss, touchups are an issue.
Best uses: Walls in kitchen and bathrooms and on cabinets, doors, trim, molding and other woodwork.
- When choosing a paint color, ask for a sample in a specific finish. Higher-sheen paints darken the color and make it more intense. You will want to see the color as it will actually be, before making a final decision.
- As with any paint choice, live with the color for a week or so on a wall. Apply in an area that sees the full range of light during the day and night to see how it looks in both sunlight and artificial light.
- The pros and cons listed above apply to the painting of furniture as well. For example, a scrubbable finish would best suit a much-used play table in a child’s room or a stand-alone cabinet in the kitchen.
- Take this guide with you to the paint store, or ask your professional painter to help with your final choices of color and finish.