On the surface it may seem simple, but interior painting can actually get quite complicated. Here we will discuss, in detail, one of the most important decisions when selecting your paint.
What sheen/finish should I use? Satin, eggshell and flat/matte are typically best for interior painting of walls. Gloss and semi-gloss paint are best for doors, baseboards, trim, cabinets, and woodwork. With that being said, your specific lifestyle, family composition, traffic patterns, and room use should actually dictate what sheen should be used for the interior painting of your home.
A good rule of thumb to follow is: the higher the shine/gloss/sheen in a paint, the more durable and washable it will be.
High Gloss and Gloss have the highest sheen, with Semi-Gloss running a close second. Great areas to use the gloss or semi-gloss for interior painting are on very high traffic areas such as doors, baseboards, trim, chair rails, cabinets, and woodwork. These are the areas that take the most abuse and require the most scrubbing. The gloss finishes are also a choice of many for areas where grease, moisture, or dripping may occur. However, the gloss and semi-gloss sheens will highlight all wall imperfections due to their reflective value, and are therefore not usually recommended for the interior painting of walls. It is not recommended for a non-professional to paint walls with any of the gloss finishes. It is imperative that a gloss finish be applied in an even and consistent application that will all dry together. The gloss finishes are more difficult to work with and do not “touch-up” the same as the other sheens. If a spot on a gloss finished area needs to be touched up due to a furniture ding or light spot, that touched-up area will always stand out. All other finishes will blend in.
Satin finish is a popular sheen for interior painting; it has more luster than eggshell and for many paint brands, cleans better too. It is a good choice for homes with children or pets, or in an area where you may need to scrub messes from walls often. Satin may be used on the walls and trim if you prefer a more monochromatic sheen, and is great for hallways, bedrooms, bathrooms, and kitchens.
Eggshell sheen proves to be a good choice for medium to low traffic areas. An extra coat of eggshell can more easily disguise a wall with imperfections than satin or gloss finishes. Eggshell is the most commonly used sheen for interior walls. It is a good middle ground, having enough sheen so that it is easily washable, but not too much to where any wall imperfection will stand out. The look of the eggshell finish is quite attractive for interior painting projects and oftentimes wins the battle between aesthetics and longevity. Eggshell is a good choice for most of your homes walls including bedrooms, dining rooms, and living rooms.
Flat or matte finishes are a great choice for ceilings or smooth walls that have blemishes. The flat/matte finishes reflect the least amount of light, therefore help to hide the imperfections. These finishes are best used in areas that won’t take a lot of abuse or need scrubbing. Using a flat paint on the ceiling is recommended because small inconsistencies on ceilings tend to be more noticeable than other painted areas. The flat finishes will help give a uniform look, and tends to be most pleasing to the eye for many people. Traditionally flat or matte finishes do not clean up as well. However, some manufacturers claim their newer low sheen paint formulas do perform as well as their higher sheen counterparts.