How to Choose
Interior Paint Finishes

No matter how much time you spend picking paint colors - if you choose wrong interior paint finishes for your interior home painting project, you can ruin the whole look.

Truth be told, there are so many names that paint manufacturers use to describe the sheen level of their products, that they can make anybody's head spin: flat, matte, eggshell, silk, satin, low-luster, semi-gloss, gloss, high gloss finish and so on!

Interior paint finishes you choose will affect the end result

These paint finish names differ not only between manufacturers, but even between different product lines from the same manufacturer.

And to add to the confusion, the paint sheen level can also be unpredictable - for example, you can buy 2 cans of satin paint from different lines or different paint makers, and they will look differently - one will be shinier than the other.

But in essence, things are much simpler than they seem.
Choosing the best paint finish for your interior home painting project will be easy when you understand this:

Most manufacturers offer 4 types of interior paint finishes - ranging from dull to shiny. The first 2 are usually used for the walls, while the last 2 are recommended for the trim, doors and windows.

Understanding Interior Paint Finishes

Flat interior paint finishes

1. All paint manufacturers have flat, or matte paint.

Flat interior paint produces a dull, even velvety type of finish that looks great on most interior walls. It is easy to touch up, it adds richness to the paint color and hides many surface imperfections. Besides, only flat paint should ever be used for painting ceilings.

The only drawback to this paint finish is that its porous surface absorbs all household stains like a sponge and can't be washed. The solution? Washable matte paint!

Eggshell/satin interior paint finishes

2. The next level of sheen that interior paint comes in is eggshell, that you can also see called satin, silk or low-luster.

Many homeowners choose this paint finish for kitchens and bathrooms, because it is less porous than flat paint and doesn't get soiled as fast. This finish is pretty low maintenance, but can highlight some surface flaws and even show roller marks if used for painting large walls, such as foyer walls.

The last 2 interior paint types are often called enamels - paints that produce a harder finish with a noticeable gloss.

Semi-gloss interior paint finishes

3. Semi-gloss paints are very durable and easy to clean.

This fact seems so irresistible to some homeowners, that they decide to paint their kitchen, bathroom, hallway and even living room and bedroom walls in a semi-gloss finish - a very bad idea!

First of all, when was the last time you actually washed your walls? Second, even if you really do wash your walls from time to time, by all means, use a washable matte paint!

No matter what color, semi-glossy walls look poor and cheap. Plus, they showcase every little surface flaw and brush and roller marks on the walls. So please, use this type of paint finish only for what it's meant - painting doors, windows and trim.

Glossy interior paint finishes

4. The last type of interior paint finishes is gloss, or high gloss.

Glossy paint is very popular for doors, windows and trim, because of its smooth, non-porous finish - dust and dirt don't seem to stick to it and glide right off, making house cleaning a breeze.

This paint finish is very shiny and just like semi-glossy paint, it should never be used for painting walls or ceilings - if a tasteful, beautiful home is what you want.

Paint Color Cheat Sheets
Paint Color Cheat Sheets

Leave a Comment:

Free Home Painting Estimates:

Get a FREE Painting Estimate

See also:

Join our Affiliate Program
Creative painting ideas

Now Hiring: