August 10th, 2016

How to Choose the Right Paint Finish


When you think about picking up a paint brush to start a paint project the first thought that goes through your mind probably isn’t what paint finish to use. You do your research, tape paint swatches to the walls and edit until you find just the right color. With your color chosen, you head to the paint store to buy it, all excited to get the paint home, pop off the lid and let the transformation begin.


Glidden Complete stain blocking paint and primer


As you tell the person behind the paint counter what color you would like, they respond…“What finish would you like that in?”

Say what…

You spent the time figuring out the perfect color, but now you have to make another big decision, one that is just as important as the color choice. If you choose the wrong paint finish for your project, you may not get the results you envisioned. When buying paint, you need to choose the color as well as the finish you want. The two go hand in hand. All paint has a finish (or sometimes called a paint sheen). Finishes include flat, eggshell, satin, semi-gloss and gloss.


How to Choose the Right Paint Finish


How To Choose The Right Paint Finish

Flat (or Matte)

Has no reflective quality and can look powdery. It adheres readily to rough surfaces and hides imperfections extremely well. It’s porous nature makes it less stain resistant. Of all the paint sheens/finishes, flat is the easiest to touch up as a new coat will blend right in.

Where to Use: Low Traffic Areas

Best used on walls and ceilings. Good to use on any wall where there are a lot of imperfections, bumps and cracks. Not good in children’s rooms since it marks easily.



Has a low sheen, just like the shell of an egg, that provides a longer lasting finish and resists stains better than a flat finish, but still hides imperfections. It also stands up to washing. It is perfect for most walls.

Where to Use: Moderate Traffic Areas

Ideal for general use on walls in living rooms, bedrooms, hallways, as well as spaces where you want to create a warm atmosphere.



It has a soft, velvety appearance. Is good for areas with exposure to moisture. The soft sheen makes it easy to clean, but difficult to touch up because of its shine.

Where to Use: Moderate to High Traffic Areas

Looks great on woodwork as well as on the walls in family rooms, kid’s rooms, and dining rooms.



Has a lustrous look that is highly reflective which adds a nice contrast in a room. Easy to clean, but harder to touch up because of its shine.

Imperfections on the surface will show up. It is extremely durable and provides the highest level of scrubbability.

Where to Use: High Traffic Areas

Good on walls in kitchens and bathrooms, best used on trim, molding, woodwork, cabinets and doors. Also great for highlighting architectural details and focal points.



Hard and shiny, this finish is the most durable and shiniest of all paint finishes. Holds up to frequent cleaning and is easy to use since it rarely shows brush strokes, but it does highlight all imperfections.

Where to Use: High Traffic Areas

Reserve for use on doors, trim, cabinetry and statement pieces of furniture.

This post is sponsored by
 Glidden® paint, a PPG brand. All thoughts, opinions and paintbrushes are my own.