How to Choose an Interior Paint Finish

How to Choose an Interior Paint Finish

I often get asked, “Should I use the same paint finish in different rooms?” My answer is “It depends!”

Choosing a paint finish can be a daunting task for the average person but a design professional will give you the guidance necessary to choose with confidence. While you may not be the one picking the finish, it is nice for homeowners to at least understand the why and how of each specific finish. Paint typically goes from flat or matte with a very low sheen to a high gloss with a very shiny glass like finish. Eggshell, satin, and pearl are somewhere in between with a medium sheen quality. Basically, the more shine a paint has, the easier it is to clean. With this said, shine also causes reflection and emphasizes flaws. I’m going to touch on only the most common finishes for now and leave the rest to the pros. We talked about the power of paint color in the previous blog post but now it’s time to walk through the different finishes.


Flat paint is ideal for ceilings due to it’s low sheen. Most ceilings are textured so it camouflages that texture and any flaws. It is also great because it does not reflect lighting the way shiny surfaces do. High quality flat paint is slightly washable so it can be used in living rooms and bedrooms as well.



If you need wipeable surfaces or have kids and animals then eggshell or satin can be considered. The downside to eggshell or satin is the sheen which exposes flaws and amplifies texture on walls. Satin is ideal for kitchen cabinets.



Semi-gloss has the most sheen and will reflect light. It is a popular finish for trims and doors due to it’s durability. Semi gloss has a slick finish that can handle more intensive cleaning than satin or eggshell.



High gloss is the shiniest of the spectrum of finishes. It will give off a glass like finish that is easily cleaned. The major drawback of this finish is that it will show every flaw on it’s surface. This is not recommended for textured walls. Try it on the front door for a bold statement.


MATTE – Aura® Bath & Spa By Benjamin Moore

For bathrooms, I prefer to use specially formulated spa paint that has a matte finish. Glossier finishes were recommended in the past for high moisture areas but recent paint technology allows a clean modern look with all the durability of a glossier finish.

I hope that this answers some of your paint questions and helps you as you start your projects. Good luck! New paint is always worth it!



*Featured image via Yoko Oda Interior Design, LLC

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