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Denver Interior Design & Home Decor | Linnore Gonzales

The Complete Guide to Paint Finishes

February 14, 2018

The Complete Guide To Paint Finishes

Changing the paint color of a room can be a really rewarding experience. But let’s be honest, if your working with a designer or paint contractor hearing the question: “Did you decide on a color?” can give you a minor panic attack. Once the color has been decided and you think you’re all done, you usually get the follow-up question “and what finish did you want?”

Finish? Who thinks about paint finishes? Well, we do! If you’ve ever had to nod your head and act like you knew what an eggshell finish really meant, we’re going to give you a quick education that will allow you to talk shop with any painter or designer! We’ve broken them all down into the 6 main paint finishes.  


Flat is definitely a favorite for those who are not concerned so much about the washability of the walls but more about the representation of color. Because flat has virtually no sheen light does not bounce off the walls. Giving flat paint a softer feel. This also helps hide imperfections like drywall seams. This is why most ceilings are painted with flat paint. The downside is that most flat paints are more vulnerable to scuffs and fingerprints, not likely to occur on your ceiling. Lol If your an empty-nester with no little ones running their hands on the wall at any opportunity Flat could be a great choice in your home.


A matte finish is very much like flat paint but has a light sheen which allows paint makers to claim it is a “washable” flat paint.


Eggshell is probably the most versatile of all sheens it is aptly named for the fact that it is a bit dull and hardly shiny, much like a real eggshell. Generally when facing a wall painted with an eggshell finish the sheen is not noticeable. It’s not until you view the wall at an angle do you notice there is a bit of shine to the finish. This is a great paint for most areas of the home.


Satin is the tweener of eggshell and semi-gloss. If your walls see constant spills or splashes like in kitchens or bathrooms satin is a great choice. Be mindful that as the walls become shinier they also have a “harder” look to them, reflecting lots of light. Be aware that while cleaning your satin walls it is suggested that you use a soft sponge. Rubbing to vigorously with can noticeably dull spots in the finish of your walls.


Semi-gloss is very shiny and not surprisingly very durable making it resistant to scuffs and fingerprints. Doors and trim both indoors and outdoors are great places to use semi-gloss. Many commercial spaces will use semi-gloss in restrooms and kitchen areas because of its high durability and easy cleanup but most homeowners find the sheen unattractive and uninviting.


Gloss and High gloss paints simply put shinier and more durable versions of semi-gloss. The applications are similar doors and trim.  

Our overall recommendations for applications are as follows:

  • Flat finishes Ceilings and walls if your home has minimal traffic.
  • Matte Finishes Rooms where only light activity is expected.
  • Eggshell -Recommended for walls in most situations excluding kitchens and bathrooms the require excessive cleaning.
  • Satin Kitchens and bathrooms.
  • Semi-Gloss Walls and trim
  • Gloss Walls and trim
We hope that this will really give a sense of best applications for different paint finishes available to you. Be sure to check with your paint contractor or store manager to be sure of sheen levels. Each paint manufacturer has levels of sheen that define their finishes. Happy painting!  



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