Paint Finishes Decoded
From the well-known flats and semi-glosses to mysterious lustres and pearls, there’s no doubt that there are a ton of options when it comes to choosing a paint finish. You may have a general idea of what’s what (i.e. eggshell is typical for walls and trim usually takes a shinier finish), but if you’re still a little hesitant about picking a paint sheen on your own, this quick list will be sure to help! Listed from least to most reflective:
- Flat paints are non-reflective, easy to clean, and can help cover up minor dents and dings. They’re best suited for low-traffic, kid-free areas, and are almost always used on ceilings (the lowest traffic area of all!).
- Matte is a step up from flat; it’s slightly more reflective, but still good for low- to moderate-traffic areas. Adult bedrooms, formal living rooms, and dining rooms are best suited for matte paint. Like flat, matte paint is easy to clean and covers up minor imperfections.
- Eggshell is a great, go-to finish for any room in the house. It’s just reflective enough to bring depth to walls without being so shiny that it overwhelms. Eggshell is also easy to clean, and holds up better to repetitive cleaning than flat or matte.
- Satin is best for high-traffic areas, like family rooms, hallways, and kid’s rooms. It’s also recommended for areas with a fair amount of moisture, like kitchens or baths.
- Semi-gloss is lustrous, durable, and a great choice for trim and cabinetry. It holds up well against wear, water, and frequent cleaning, and adds a nice contrast when paired with a less reflective wall finish.
- High gloss or glossy paint is the most reflective and most durable option. It can also be used on trim and cabinetry, as well as doors. Because of its highly reflective properties, however, it doesn’t do a great job at hiding blemishes. That being said, it usually takes a highly trained, highly patient professional to get a glossy paint job done right.
All in all, your best bet when choosing a paint finish is to determine how trafficked the area will be. Less lustrous sheens are perfect for less populous areas, while higher gloss finishes are your best bet for spaces that are frequented by guests, kids, and pets (oh my!). The good news is: if you aren’t happy with the finishes you’ve chosen, there’s always the chance to try again. Now, get painting!
If you need some help choosing the perfect paint color, check our our tried and true paint color guide by clicking here.