Choosing The Right Paint Finish (And Why It Actually Matters)

assorted-color paints
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The moment you walk into the paint aisle, the options tower over you. If you don’t know exactly what you’ve come for, a whole day could be spent just looking. Once you’ve narrowed down the choices to a color, the final and debatably most important part is choosing the right paint finish for your project.

The right paint finish, commonly referred to as the sheen, will affect the paint’s durability and final appearance. A coat with a high sheen will stand up to high traffic levels much better than that with a low level. The shinier it is, the more likely it is to stick around.

To truly find out what the right finish is for your paint job, we’ll dive straight into each available option.

High Gloss

High gloss paint finish will be your go-to pick if you’re looking for something that is incredibly easy to clean and meant to last. It will come with a shine but will help you keep your walls looking good even when you have a mess coming at it. 

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High gloss is a great choice for any high traffic areas where dirty hands or food splatter may find its way onto the walls often. It is easy to clean up without ruining the paint over time so you’ll find this to be perfect in kitchens. 

This is also a great choice for spaces that you touch a lot. If you want to paint your cabinets or drawers, a high gloss finish will keep them in good shape. You don’t really want to put a high gloss finish on interior walls, as it reveals every minor bump in the walls and brings flaws to the front. 


The next level down is a semi-gloss finish that is a good choice for any areas that get high traffic, especially where you find a lot of moisture or grease stains. It’s a good paint for the spaces that you get clean, which can lead to your walls getting dirty.

white ceramic pedestal sink
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Bathrooms gather a high level of humidity and can really benefit from a semi-gloss finish. It will also be perfect in a kitchen where you have more wall to cover than backsplash. It has less of a shine to it than high gloss, so you will see fewer flaws in the wall. 


Satin finishes are the choice when you want something that is easier to clean but doesn’t reflect light like a mirror. It has a high level of durability, so if you have any kids, this will stand up to their dirty paws and high levels of activity. 

brown and multicolored train toy set
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Satin tends to reveal brush strokes very easily, meaning you need to be careful with the application, and touching it up can be more difficult. That being said, this paint finish brings a warm and smooth feel to your living room or playroom. 


Looking for a finish that doesn’t show off any flaws, but needs to be treated delicately? An eggshell finish is exactly that. The name is fitting due to its lack of sheen as well as more delicate nature.

square framed mirror over gray sofa
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If you are wanting to bring color into a room that won’t be used very often and the walls are safe from a rambunxious group of kids, eggshell is it. Dining rooms and living rooms will benefit from the eggshell finish and hold its quality well. 

Flat or Matte

Flat and matte paint finishes are the best at covering anything up that a wall may not want to show off. They spread pigment out effectively and give you the best coverage. Flat and matte finishes soak up light so you get no shine and more color. 

gray table lamp beside white bed pillow
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This has a much lower durability rating than any of the other finish options you have. If you are wanting to paint a bedroom where kids won’t often come play, and you can be sure the walls stay clean, this will give you the best results. Once you start scrubbing these walls, the paint is likely to start coming off as well, so be careful. 


When you’re heading into a big paint job, the decision can be a tough one to make. You need to ask yourself a few simple questions:

2 person wearing blue denim jeans
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How much will this wall have to put up with?

A lot – The more sheen, the more durable

A little – A flat or matte finish stands covers a lot but isn’t very durable

How much light do you want your wall to reflect?

A lot – High sheen means higher shine

A little – Low sheen means less light reflecting

How often do you see yourself cleaning the wall?

A lot – A high gloss coating cleans easily

A little – Flat or matte finishes tend to come up when cleaned

How much do you want to spend?

A lot – The more gloss or sheen a paint has, the more you’ll end up spending

A little – Flat or matte finishes have the overall lowest price to coverage ratio

Take some time and pay attention to what you’re painting. Getting to the right paint finish is easy, and you’ll have the room transformed in no time at all.