Choosing the Right Finish for Your Interior Painting Project

Interior painting is one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to change up the decor in your home. Once you’ve decided on the perfect color, you’ll want to consider what type of finish would work best in the space you’re painting. Interior paints are available in several different finishes, which are distinguished by their degree of reflectivity and sheen. Paint finishes range from very matte to very glossy. The finish of the paint will affect what it’s going to look like on your walls. A paint that’s too matte could end up looking dull and flat, and too much sheen could end up looking harsh.

The Types of Paint Finishes

Paints that are designed for interior painting are available in several different finishes. The color you choose, as well as your overall design aesthetic, will affect which type of finish will look the best on your walls.

  • Matte finish. Matte paints are not very reflective at all, and tend to look rather “flat.” Because matte finishes don’t reflect light, they’re often a good choice for walls that have cracks or imperfections that need to be covered. A glossier finish is more likely to draw attention to problem areas on your wall.
  • Eggshell finish has a very subtle sheen. The name should give you an idea of what to expect from this type of finish: it’s about as shiny as a typical eggshell. An eggshell finish has just a tiny hint of gloss, which can add some depth and dimensionality to the color without being overwhelming.
  • Satin finish has a soft, velvety sheen that’s more reflective than an eggshell finish. This type of finish is sometimes used on walls, although it’s even more commonly used on trim elements like door frames and baseboards.
  • Semi-gloss paint is shinier than a satin finish, with a sleeker, less soft or “velvety” appearance.
  • Glossy finishes are the most reflective and shiny, which can make them difficult to use effectively. If used on an entire wall, a glossy finish can easily be overwhelmingly shiny and harsh on the eyes. It’s best used on elements like ceiling trim as a dramatic accent.

Very matte finishes can often look drab and dull, whereas glossy finishes can be overwhelming. Many homeowners favor eggshell or satin finishes for interior painting, with semi-gloss or glossy finishes for trim elements. A little bit of sheen will add a subtle element of depth to the color, which is often more visually appealing than either a matte finish or a glossy finish.

The visual look of your paint is a primary concern when you’re deciding on a finish for your interior painting project. Although this is usually what will determine your choice, you may also want to consider the fact that different finishes can vary in how easy they are to clean. Glossier paints are actually easier to clean and wash than paints with a matte finish. If you have young children or otherwise find yourself cleaning your walls frequently, then this is a factor that might play into your decision.

If you’re still unsure about which finish is best, you can always consult with a professional painter. Many homeowners do their own interior painting, but there are many worthwhile benefits to hiring a professional. Professional paint jobs almost always look smooth, clean, and free of the imperfections that often result from a novice attempt at painting. The process will also be cleaner, since professional painters know how to protect floors and other surfaces and minimize the mess that results from painting. Your painter will likely have the experience and expertise to be able to recommend the ideal paint finish.

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