How to Choose a Paint Finish For Your Home

Apr 22, 2024By Tyler Bains
Tyler Bains

Choosing the right paint finish for your home is not just about the color that goes on your walls but also about the finish or sheen of the paint. Most paints are offered in many finishes, so which should you pick?

As an expert painting contractor with over a decade of experience, I can tell you that the finish of your paint can dramatically affect both the appearance and the longevity of your paint job. 

The Basics of Paint Finishes & Sheen

flat paint finishes

Flat Paint

Flat paint is characterized by its minimalistic, non-reflective finish that makes it perfect for hiding imperfections on your walls. Ideal for dining rooms or other low-traffic areas, flat paint offers a sophisticated, matte look. However, because it absorbs light rather than reflects it, flat paint is less durable and harder to clean, making it less suitable for spaces that see a lot of activity. It’s a great choice for ceilings and adult bedrooms, where the need for frequent touch-ups is lower.

eggshell paint finish

Eggshell Finish

Eggshell paint, with its slight hint of shine, offers a balance between matte and gloss finishes. It's more durable and easier to clean than flat paint, making it a popular choice for living rooms and family rooms—spaces that are frequented but not subjected to constant wear and tear. This finish has a soft glow that can help brighten up these areas subtly without overwhelming the senses, making it a smart choice for medium-traffic areas.

satin paint finish on green wall bedroom

Satin Finish

If you’re looking for something a bit more sheeny than eggshell, satin finish is your go-to. This type of paint has a smooth, velvety look that stands up well in high-traffic areas like hallways, kids’ rooms, and even kitchens.

Satin is commendable for its durability and ease of cleaning, resisting most common household stains, and requiring less frequent touch-ups. Its slightly glossy appearance also makes colors pop a bit more, enhancing the overall aesthetic of your space.

semi gloss behr paint


Semi-gloss paint is more reflective than satin, making it highly durable and easy to clean. This finish is especially well-suited for bathrooms, kitchens, and doors—areas that face moisture, spills, or frequent touching. The higher sheen level not only repels water and grease effectively but also allows for easier scrubbing, which helps maintain the paint’s original color and finish for longer periods.

high gloss paint finish

High Gloss Paint

High gloss paint is the most durable and reflective option available. It’s excellent for surfaces that endure a lot of handling or cleaning, such as trim, cabinets, and doors. Although it's not typically recommended for full interior walls due to its intense shine, it can be an effective accent choice, adding a dramatic flair and creating a statement in any space. Remember, high gloss paint will highlight any surface imperfections, so preparation is key to achieving a smooth, flawless finish.

Choosing the Right Paint Finish for Each Room

Living Rooms and Bedrooms

For areas where comfort and tranquility are key, such as living rooms and bedrooms, opt for finishes with little to no shine like flat or eggshell.

These finishes not only help hide wall imperfections but also provide a calm and inviting atmosphere. For children’s bedrooms, where walls might need frequent cleaning, consider using semi-gloss to make maintenance easier without sacrificing the comforting vibe of the space.

Kitchen and Bathrooms

Kitchens and bathrooms benefit from higher sheen finishes like semi-gloss or gloss because of their resistance to moisture and ease of cleaning.

These finishes help protect walls from steam and stains while making it easier to wipe down surfaces, thus maintaining hygiene and reducing the effort needed for upkeep. We would not recommend using any flat finishes as it starts to show within 3-6 months of painting, which nobody wants.

Hallways and Entryways

For hallways and entryways, which see a lot of foot traffic, satin finish is ideal. It provides a practical balance between the matte appearance and durability, resisting scuffs and minor chips from daily use while still looking fresh and welcoming.

Special Considerations in Paint Selection

When selecting paint, consider the impact of color and sheen on your space. Lighter colors and higher gloss levels tend to make rooms feel larger and more open, as they reflect more light. Conversely, darker colors and matte finishes can make a space feel cozier and more enclosed.

Always take into account the condition of your walls—finishes like flat or eggshell are beneficial for walls with imperfections as they help to conceal these flaws better than glossier finishes.

Room TypeRecommended FinishDurabilityAesthetic Appeal

Dining Room

Living RoomEggshellMediumHigh
Childrens RoomsSemi-GlossHighMedium
Doors and TrimHigh GlossVery HighMedium

Which Paint Finishes Should You Go With?

Selecting the perfect paint finish involves understanding the specific needs and traffic of each room in your house. While aesthetics are crucial, functionality and durability are equally important to ensure that your spaces not only look stunning but also stand up to the rigors of daily life.

Now we covered interior painting, exterior painting has fewer options which we will cover in a later post. 

By choosing the right finish, you can enhance the beauty of your home and create environments that are both welcoming and practical. Remember, a well-chosen paint finish can transform a house into a home, reflecting both your style and the lifestyle of your household.

Our personal remmondation is to reach out to a local painting company and request a free quote & color consulation to go over some options to see what would be the best fit for you. You can reach out to our team at BC Brushworks, where we provide free detailed quotes and color consultations.

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