How to Choose the Perfect Paint Finish

A few years ago, a friend of mine put up a restaurant. He painted all the lavatories a vibrant shade of orange to liven up the space. The color stood out but after some time, he knew it was a mistake. The walls were done in matte. For the first few months, it was fine because it made the walls look great but sadly, he had to repaint over it because it was difficult to maintain.

Most of us think that picking the right color is the only decision we need to make for paint… but it doesn’t stop there. Walls often get dolled up in semi-gloss or flat finishes but there are other options we rarely experiment with like satin or eggshell. What are they exactly? When should we use high-gloss? What rooms are best for eggshell? Can we use a satin finish for the nursery? Is picking the right finish that important? Going back to the previous story, yes! If my friend started with the proper finish, he wouldn’t have had to spend more money and time rectifying the situation.

In picking the right finish for the walls, consider the purpose of the space and the level of activity that will occur in that area

Here are some pros and cons as well as additional tips about each finish so we can make the smart decision for our spaces.

Types of Finishes:



To hide imperfections, matte finish is best. Take note that it should be used in low traffic areas

PROS: The finish hides imperfections like bumps and cracks on walls and ceilings. It has a non-reflective appearance and provides a smooth and elegant finish.

CONS: This is considered high maintenance because it is difficult to clean and absorbs dirt. Removing fingerprints and drawings from the surface will be a challenge so avoid this if you know children will often use the space.  

RECOMMENDED: Low-traffic areas: ceilings, hallways.

NOT RECOMMENDED: Children’s bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchens.

TIP: Reserve some extra paint in case the walls need touchups in the future.



The satin or eggshell finish is good for exteriors because of its low-reflective finish, making it great for hiding
surface imperfections

PROS: This is good for decorative finishes because of its low sheen. It offers more depth and warmth. This is easier to wash and maintain than the matte finish because it resists stains and scuffs more.

CONS: While it needs less maintenance than the matte finish, it is still difficult to clean.

RECOMMENDED: Low to moderate traffic areas: living rooms, dining rooms, bedrooms, foyers, family rooms, interior paneling.

NOT RECOMMENDED: Kitchens, bathrooms.



PROS: The satin finish is easier to take care of than eggshell. It is a finish to consider because of its ability to produce a smooth and velvet look. It also withstands moisture and resists mildew, dirt and stains.

CONS: The walls are hard to scrub.

RECOMMENDED: Moderate to high traffic areas: family rooms, playrooms, laundry rooms, bedrooms, dining rooms, woodwork, walls, doors, hallways, bathrooms, guest bathrooms, children’s bedrooms, trims, shutters, kitchens, windows, ceilings.



Semi-gloss paint is recommended for doors and trims

PROS: The end result brings about a sleek shine. Walls can also be easily scrubbed. The finish is considered low-maintenance and may be utilized indoors and outdoors. It has a high resistance to moisture. 

CONS: It can be a little distracting. Imperfections stand out.

RECOMMENDED: High traffic and high-moisture areas: doors, trim, cabinets, windows, kitchen, bathrooms, moldings, hallways.

NOT RECOMMENDED: Poorly prepared walls or surfaces.

TIP: Instead of one thick coat, apply several thin coats for a smooth result.



For high-gloss paint, proper sanding and preparation is crucial before painting

PROS: This is stain resistant. The walls can be scrubbed and remain shiny and polished. Among the group of finishes, this is the most reflective. It creates a dramatic look when applied on cabinets, trims and furniture. The finish is low maintenance. They help brighten up a room.

CONS: It magnifies imperfections.

RECOMMENDED: Highest traffic areas and high-use surfaces: kitchens, bathrooms, cabinets, doors, molding, woodwork, trim.

TIP: Proper sanding and preparation is crucial before painting. Spraying rather than brushing on the paint will create a sleeker look.


Hope this helps while you are sourcing for the ideal paint finish for a specific area. If the sheen you prefer falls between two categories, feel free to combine them to create a customized look.


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