Selecting a Paint Finish

Design Tip: Consider the End Use When Selecting a Paint Finish

Back in the day, we were limited to a few paint finishes, depending on the use. Glossy paints were used in kitchens and bathrooms because they were easy to clean. We’ve all been in a bathroom where the walls shone like glass.

Nowadays, we have a plethora of durable paints that are suitable for a multitude of surfaces. Here is a simple guide to help you select the right paint finish for your job. The most important thing to remember is the lower the sheen, the more flaws the paint will hide AND the higher the sheen, the more imperfections will show up.

Here’s how to make sure you do the prep work to ensure you get an end result you’ll be happy with:

  • Flat is a low-sheen paint with a non-reflective finish that touches up well and hides minor surface imperfections. It is generally used on ceilings and is difficult to wash.
  • Matte has a low-lustre finish that is durable, easier to clean than a flat finish, touches up well, and also hides minor surface imperfections. It’s great for low-to-moderate traffic areas such as bedrooms.
  • Eggshell has a soft, velvety appearance and is a good choice for moderate traffic areas such as living rooms and bedrooms. Eggshell is durable, easy to clean and is a good choice for all the rooms in your home. Many paint manufacturers have developed mould- and mildew-resistant eggshell paints that are perfect for kitchens and bathrooms.
  • Satin has a soft pearl-like appearance, and is a great option for painting moderate- to high-traffic areas or areas that have some exposure to moisture. You can use this in a kitchen or bathroom, but there will be a bit of a sheen. Satin is also well-suited to interior doors and trim if you want a more modern look than the traditional semi or gloss paints provide.
  • Semi-gloss has a sleek, radiant appearance that is great for cabinets, doors and trim. This finish is very durable.
  • Hi-gloss creates a brilliant, shiny appearance with a glass-like finish. It’s traditionally used on doors and trim as it is very durable.

Note: As mentioned in Tip #24, colour will also change depending on the sheen it is in! Notice the difference in colour in this pic.

Paint Sheens


It can be nearly impossible to understand all the paint options out there; your best bet is to sit down with an interior design pro and discuss your goals. Book your colour consultation with me today.


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