Beyond Color – Tips for Selecting the Right Paint Finish for Your Walls

Great work! You’ve got the perfect color picked out – the hard part is behind you. Choosing the right finish for your walls is the last piece in the puzzle. My quick guide will help make sure you select the right sheen.

There’s quite a bit to consider – so let’s start with a cheat sheet. For 90% of applications, these rules apply. For those that want to dive deeper, and to ensure you’re selecting the right finish for your application, I share more info below.

While you are considering paint finish, recognize that sheen level is on a continuum, with flat/matte on one side, and becoming more and more shiny as it works toward a gloss finish.

Chart showing which paint finish to use in which rooms

Special Considerations

For smaller rooms, experts suggest using a shinier, more light-reflective finish, which can make the space feel larger in size.

If the room does not receive much natural light, selecting a glossier, more light-reflective paint can help brighten the room.

For spaces which receive high traffic, for kitchens or other areas where splatters occur, or locations frequented by kids, satin, semi-gloss and gloss finishes are easier to wipe down than flat/matte or eggshell. The same holds true for baseboards, cabinetry and doors. As a rule, the glossier the paint finish, the more durable it tends to be.

According to Bob Villa, for walls with texture, choose a satin or semi-gloss sheen, as opposed to flat or matte finish. The light reflectivity in those finishes will highlight the wall texture.

To help with imperfections, choose a paint with less sheen, which doesn’t show nail pops, cracks or patches as much.

Paint sheen can play a role in how we perceive a paint color. Higher sheen finishes tend to amp up the paint color intensity and saturation.

Zest Kitchen + Home Ida Floral Quilt Set

As far as application, flat and matte finishes tend to provide more coverage, and therefore require fewer coats. These finishes are also easy to touch up. Satin, semi-gloss and gloss finishes may very likely require the repainting of the entire wall as repaints are difficult to uniformly blend in.

And finally, in general terms, the glossier the paint finish, the higher the price tag.

5 1 vote
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments