Flat, Gloss or Satin Paint: How Do You Choose? - Home Decorating & Painting Advice

Flat, Gloss or Satin Paint: How Do You Choose?

Confused about how to choose the right paint finish for your project?


Flat, eggshell and satin paint are best for interior walls, whereas semi-gloss and gloss paint are best for trim and woodwork. Let’s go into a little more detail about each finish though, so you’ll be able to choose the one that will give you the look you’re after.
 

Wall Paint Sheen Options

  • FLAT: Flat paint is my favorite paint sheen, and it’s almost always the one I choose. It has a velvety, matte look and is the best choice to hide any wall imperfections. However, it’s the least durable choice and doesn’t usually stand up well to scrubbing. The good news is, many paint formulas clean up easily with soap and water, but people still tend to shy away from flat paint in favor of other sheens that are easier to care for.
  • SATIN: Satin paint has some sheen to it, and is an excellent choice for hardworking rooms like kitchens and bathrooms. It stands up exceptionally well to scrubbing and regular cleaning, but its glossiness highlights wall imperfections like cracks, divots or poorly patched areas.
  • EGGSHELL: An eggshell finish has a subtler shine to it, so it’s a great choice if you’re not ready for satin. As such, it offers what you may expect: it’s shinier than flat (but not as glossy as satin), and it’s easier to clean than flat (but not as easy to clean as satin). Eggshell paint is a good choice for living rooms, hallways and bedrooms.

My personal preference may fall to flat paint because I like the look, but most people are quite happy with eggshell paint, which has a soft glow to it where the light hits.
 

Trim and Woodwork Paint Sheen Options

  • GLOSS: The more gloss present in the paint, the more durable it is. Gloss paint is indeed going to be the toughest, but bear in mind that it will also show the most imperfections. Unless you’re truly looking for the shiniest finish you can find, you may be happier with semi-gloss.
  • SEMI-GLOSS: Semi-gloss paint is what I use for all trim and woodwork. The shine sets it apart from the walls, which is important if you’re not distinguishing it by color (white walls with white trim, for example). It also adds a luster that can make anything look richer in an instant. Plus, it’s easy to care for with soap and water or a soft cloth for removing dust.

 
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