A Guide to Paint Finishes and Where They Work Best

When you have decided to tackle the project of repainting in your home you can be sure to anticipate many decisions. In addition to hundreds of colors to choose from, you also have a handful of paint finishes to choose. Not every finish is right for every room or material you will be painting. The below descriptions should help give you a good understanding of each paint finish and where it works the best.

Flat Finish

Flat or matte finish paints are commonly seen on ceilings and walls. While it is a good paint for minimizing the appearance of flaws, it is not easily washable or durable. You should save this type of paint for rooms with little activity or chance for messes and marks. Flat finish paint can also be used outside for areas like siding. This is a very forgiving paint in terms of touch-ups and brush strokes.

Home Selling Tip: If prepping your home for selling, a flat paint finish is good for walls that are older and have imperfections you want to camouflage.

Related: Prepare Your Child’s Room for Showings – Getting it Organized

Egg Shell

Egg Shell, is a good blend of luster and durability. It has a bit of a sheen, is relatively hard-wearing, and easier to clean than a flat finish. Kitchen’s, laundry rooms and bathrooms work well with this type of finish. This along with the satin finish is fairly easy to maintain.


The satin finish has a little more sheen than eggshell but is washable and fairs well in areas of higher traffic. Areas like children’s bedrooms which are prone to messes, bumps and scratches do best with this finish. Satin and eggshell are a good middle ground between flat and glossy finishes. For exterior use, siding is the best place to use this type of paint.


Semi-gloss is a long-wearing finish with a beautiful moderate shine. It works well in bathrooms and kitchens because of the potential for higher humidity. It washes and cleans well. One thing to keep in mind is that the satin and gloss finishes are harder to touch up because of their sheen. If you are repainting the outside of your home, try this type of paint for the window woodwork and trim.


High-gloss is the finish with the most shine and will be the easiest to clean, on the contrary you will see every blemish and flaw underneath. Keep this paint for very smooth surfaces like cabinets, trim or doors. High-gloss is also good for highlighting specialty trim and woodwork. Try freshening up your window shutters or doors with this paint!

Home Selling Tip: If you are selling your home and want to show off your beautiful crown molding or ornate woodwork, this paint finish might be a good option.


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