Home Improvement

Choosing the Right Paint Finish – All You Need to Know

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Have you ever tried redecorating a room, only for the little details to halt the process? There are tonnes of things that can make for an impossible decision, from colours and patterns to application methods.

Take paint, for example. We all know picking colours can quickly turn into a rabbit hole, but what about choosing a paint finish? How do you know which one to get for the bedroom? What’s the difference between them all anyway?

Worry not! In this post, we’ll go over the different types of paint finishes and their specifics to help you make the right choice!

Table of Contents:

What are the different types of paint finishes?

Paint is one of the most common types of wall coverings due to how easy it is to apply and the variety it offers. Having that many options is a double-edged sword, though. You can get stuck trying to choose the best paint colours easily enough, but when you add paint finishes to the mix, it’s enough to make you spiral!

First things first – to make the right choice, you need to know what types of paint finishes are out there and the benefits and drawbacks of each kind. So, let’s get right to it!

When referring to a flat paint finish, “flat” and “matte” are often used interchangeably, but they’re not the same. Matte paint, also called flat enamel, is the more durable (and more expensive) version of basic flat finishes.

  • Flat/Matte
    Flat paint is among the most popular finishes out there. It’s especially beloved by avid DIY-ers, as it’s the easiest type to apply and makes for a clean, smooth wall. It also has the best coverage and is the most pigmented type. A flat finish has no sheen at all, as it does not reflect light. While this makes it a versatile option based on appearance, its durability is not outstanding. Flat paint is notoriously difficult to clean, so using it in high-traffic areas is not recommended. On the bright side, it’s perfect for hiding wall imperfections, so if you don’t want to spend lots of time on prep, flat paint is for you.
  • Eggshell
    Think about the slight sheen you see on an eggshell. If you can imagine that, you can imagine what eggshell paint looks like (a bit obvious, we know). This finish has a minimal amount of sheen that can’t really be referred to as a “shine”. It has medium durability, making it stronger than flat paint, but still not the best choice for rooms with heavy traffic. While it can’t withstand heavy scrubbing, light cleaning is completely fine. Eggshell paint won’t put any wall imperfections on display, either.
  • Satin
    Satin paint is also a prevalent type of paint finish. Sheen-wise, it’s right in the middle between flat and gloss, so if you’re looking for a highly durable finish with a medium amount of shine, satin is the way to go. Due to the sheen, cleaning satin walls is far easier than flat ones, and they can take a bit more scrubbing than eggshell. This makes it a great option for high-traffic areas without looking too tacky. However, the shine also means it will show off most imperfections on a wall (brush strokes and the like).
  • Semi-gloss
    Even higher on the sheen scale is semi-gloss paint. This type of paint finish is highly durable and very shiny, meaning it’s super easy to clean. And, therefore, a good choice for rooms with lots of traffic and moisture. It also looks great on woodwork, like wall trims, doors, and window frames. You’ll have to do some extra prep work, though, as semi-gloss paint is fantastic at enhancing wall defects.
  • Gloss/High gloss
    If you’re looking to make a statement, look no further than high gloss paint! It’s exceptionally durable and has a mirror-like shine, making it pretty much stain-resistant and the easiest paint finish to clean. However, you’ll rarely see it used on walls. It’s more common on woodwork – trim, doors, etc. – as it can make them pop and bring more depth to a room. If you do decide to use it on your walls, keep in mind that heavy prep is needed, as gloss paint will show off every little bump, scratch, or other imperfection.

When used right, eggshell and satin paint finishes can make a small room look bigger. So, if you’re painting a tiny space, consider them!

So, to quickly summarise – the higher the gloss, the more durable and washable the paint is, but it will also make imperfections more noticeable the shinier it gets.

How to choose a paint finish

Now that we’ve covered the different types of finishes, it’s time to talk about choosing the right paint finish. Starting with…

What you need to consider

When choosing a paint finish, there are a few things you need to keep in mind if you want to make the right decision.

  • Durability
    Think about which room you’re painting and how much traffic it gets. If the walls are prone to getting scuffs and scratches every other day, your best bet will be to get a more durable paint finish. And, as we mentioned earlier, the higher the gloss, the higher the durability.
  • Cleaning
    Are the walls in this room at a high risk of getting stained? A higher-gloss, washable paint is the right choice. Getting stains off a flat-finish wall is next to impossible, so keep this in mind when choosing a paint finish for rooms like the kitchen.
  • Natural light
    How much natural light does the room in question get throughout the day? If the room is well lit, go for a flat finish. If you cover your walls in shiny paint, they’ll reflect that natural light a lot. For darker rooms, such as a hallway with no windows, a glossier finish can help make use of what little light the room gets.
  • Moisture
    If you’re going to be painting your kitchen or bathroom, choosing a paint finish with a higher sheen is the way to go, as they’re often moisture resistant. There are flat, special moisture- and mould-proof paint options out there, but they can be pricey, so if you don’t mind a bit of shine, opt for semi-gloss or gloss paint.
  • Cost
    Another important aspect to consider is your budget. How much are you willing to spend on paint? Usually, the price goes up along with the sheen. If you don’t want to spend tonnes of money but still want some shine in the room, consider an accent wall.

Keep in mind that the type of paint finish you choose can affect how the colour looks. If you want to avoid disappointment, get a few samples to see how the paint will look on your walls. Testing the paint is an essential part of knowing how to paint a room like an expert!

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And now, the question we all want the answer to:

What is the best type of paint finish for each room?

Unfortunately, it’s impossible to give an exact answer, as there are many variables. Your taste and the requirements of your household all play a part in this decision. However, there are a few universal rules to follow when choosing the right paint finish.

So, with that in mind, here are the best types of finishes for different rooms (generally speaking, that is).

  • Bedroom
    An adult’s bedroom is not really a high-traffic place, so you don’t need to go out of your way to get extremely durable paint. A flat or matte finish will work just fine, and if you’d like to liven the colour up a little, you can opt for eggshell, too.
  • Living room
    For the family sitting room, eggshell paint is a common choice, as it allows for occasional cleaning. If you have children that tend to play in this room, you can go one step higher and choose a satin finish to make the paint more durable.
  • Dining room
    As with the living room, eggshell and satin paint are good options that can withstand light cleaning when necessary.
  • Kids’ room
    Children often use their bedrooms as a playground. So, a satin finish is your best bet, as you can apply a little bit more elbow grease when cleaning the walls, and the paint won’t chip as easily.
  • Hallway
    A hallway is not exactly a high-traffic area, but it can still take the occasional beating. If you tend to kick your shoes into the wall or your kids like to run around and play there, scuffs and scratches are bound to happen. Choosing a satin paint finish is a safe option.
  • Office
    If you have a home office, its walls probably won’t be at risk of getting stained or damaged. So, choosing a finish based on your taste alone is okay. Flat, matte, and eggshell finishes are a common choice.
  • Kitchen
    For kitchen walls, you’ll need a durable, washable, and stain-proof paint finish. Moisture-resistant is a bonus. Opt for semi-gloss or high gloss paint.
  • Bathroom
    Just like in the kitchen, high gloss or semi-gloss finishes are the best choice for your bathroom. They’re super easy to clean and can take more moisture.

Struggling to choose a paint finish?

If you’re feeling overwhelmed and unsure which type of paint finish is right for you, why not consult the professionals? The expert painters and decorators at Fantastic Services are ready to help you make the best choice.

And, if you’d rather avoid the mess and spend your time doing things you enjoy, they can paint any room you like. Rest assured, it will be left spotless and looking better than ever! Don’t hesitate, call a professional to help with your home redecoration today!

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  • There are five main types of paint finishes available, ranging from flat to high gloss.
  • Choosing the right paint finish will depend on which room you’re painting and how durable the paint is.
  • The higher the sheen, the more durable the paint is.
  • Higher-gloss paint finishes are more expensive.
  • For high-traffic areas that tend to get scratched or stained, choose a highly-durable paint finish.
  • Opt for flat or eggshell paint in rooms with little traffic or lots of natural light.

So, you’ve finally chosen the perfect paint finish! But have you thought about colour yet? Check out our useful guide and learn all you need to know about choosing paint colours!


We hope you found this post helpful. If you have any questions, or maybe a tip or two, don’t hesitate to share them in the comments!

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