Paint comes in several finishes, also known as sheens. But when you're deciding what to use in your house, how do you know which finish is right? You can always talk to the experts, but here is a quick guide to paint finishes that will help you understand what questions to ask.
Flat paint is best for low-traffic areas. This might include adult bedrooms or formal living rooms. Flat finishes don't reflect light, so they mask imperfections well. But it's not easy to clean a flat finish and they should be avoided in high-touch spaces such as kitchens or children's rooms.
If you see the word "matte" on a paint can, you can treat it like flat paint. All the information is the same, and the finish will be flat — without a sheen. The terms are considered interchangeable, and different paint manufacturers will use them for comparable products.
Also called a "low luster" finish, eggshell finish has been a common choice for household paint for decades. Eggshell paint does reflect some light off the walls, but it's also easier to clean. Eggshell is suitable for higher-traffic areas where you don't want a noticeable shine, such as hallways or family rooms.
Some paint companies consider eggshell and satin to be the same, while others use the terms differently. Satin is also a slightly lustrous paint, but usually with a little more sheen than eggshell. Some versions may be more reflective than others, depending on the brand.
Some spaces look their best when painted in semi-gloss. This lustrous finish reflects plenty of light, but that means mistakes in application are very noticeable. On the plus side, however, it's a hard-wearing finish that is easy to clean, making it the perfect fit for areas where cleaning will happen regularly, such as bathrooms and kitchens. It's also suitable for trim or handrails.
Gloss and high-gloss
Not every hardware store will carry gloss or high-gloss wall paint, because it's often considered too dramatic for a home interior. Besides, it's not forgiving for amateur painters, which is all the more galling because it's normally the most expensive option. However, when applied by a skilled professional, it can be a striking choice for accents.