Expert Advice on Choosing the Right Paint Finish

There are five types of paint finishes. Here's how to choose the right one for your room.

After looking at hundreds of swatches, you've finally picked out the perfect neutral paint color. There's still something important to consider: the finish. That gorgeous color you selected will look different if you select a matte finish versus a high-gloss finish. In addition, certain paint finishes are easier to clean and better for areas like the kitchen where they're more likely to get soiled. Confused? Don't be. We're here to help! We spoke to the experts to learn how to choose the right type of paint finish for your room.

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Types of Paint Finishes


How Flat and Matte Paint Looks

Flat and matte finishes absorb light for a smooth, elegant, look.

How Flat and Matte Paint Performs

According to Matt Kunz, president of Five Star Painting, a Neighborly brand, flat and matte finishes are frequently used at construction sites because this finish is forgiving and perfect for hiding imperfections. If you want to cover up scrapes and wall damage, this is a solid choice. However, he also says that flat paint finishes are known to absorb dirt, so it's generally not a great option for kitchens, kid's rooms, or high traffic areas.


How Eggshell Paint looks

Unsurprisingly, eggshell finishes resemble eggshells. They are notable possessing a natural depth and warmth, with a lingering velvety aftereffect.

How Eggshell Paint Performs

Bob Skibinski, CEO of B Homes Design & Development, says eggshell finishes are in high demand these days. They are easy to take care of, especially in active households with children and pets. Eggshell finishes resist stains and scuffs and are a low maintenance choice for high traffic areas.


How Satin Paint Looks

Satin is the Goldilocks of paint finishes. It has a bit more sheen than eggshell or matte/flat finishes, but it isn't as shiny as semi-gloss or high gloss finishes. The end result is a soft, romantic shine.

How Satin Paint Performs

This is a versatile finish. Satin finishes are resistant to dirt and mildew. They're also easy to keep clean which makes them a great fit for kitchens, bathrooms, high traffic areas, and trim.


How Semi-Gloss Paint Looks

Semi-gloss finishes reflect light. They are shinier than satin finishes, but not as radiant as high-gloss finishes. The end result is clean and sharp.

How Semi-Gloss Paint Performs

Semi-gloss finishes are extremely durable. They're also resistant to stains and moisture. According to Kunz, they're a great fit for the kitchen since you can easily scrub grease out of a semi-gloss finish. The downside is that since this finish reflects light, it makes it easier to spot imperfections on your walls. Scratches, dents, and bumps will be more visible if you choose a semi-gloss finish.


How High-Gloss Paint Looks

High-gloss finishes give off the maximum amount of shine for a dazzling, glamorous effect.

How High-Gloss Paint Performs

High-gloss finishes are extremely low-maintenance. They are resistant to stains and moisture and easy to keep clean. However, just like semi-gloss finishes, all that shine means that the imperfections on your wall are likely to telegraph to the rest of your room. Both Kunz and Skibinski add that high-gloss finishes require the most prep work since you'll want to make sure your wall is as smooth as possible before you paint. Since it's so easy to clean, high-gloss finishes are a great fit for interior doors and cabinets that tend to get covered with grungy fingerprints.

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