How to pick your paint: High Gloss, Semi Gloss, Satin, Eggshell, and Flat/Matte

Painting is a cost-effective way to spruce up your home, but choosing the wrong paint finish could mean pricey do-overs later. So how to pick your paint is an important question. There are 5 main types of finishes to consider: High Gloss, Semi-Gloss, Satin, Eggshell, and Flat/Matte. Due to their durability, each finish has its own practical location based on the intensity a space is used.

High Gloss:

High Gloss has both pros and cons. Out of all the options, it is the shiniest, most reflective, easiest to clean, and most durable. It’s easiest to think of this as appliance-paint-tough. Due to these factors, it contains too much shine for interior walls and requires the most amount of prep work since it will show every flaw. This finish will require multiple coats to get the smoothest turnout. Practical locations for High Gloss would be on high-use areas such as cabinetry, doors, and trim work.

Waverly Clubroom


Also in the shiny category is the Semi Gloss. While this finish can provide a sleek look to spaces, it can also withstand a lot of wear and tear and is very easy to clean. Semi Gloss will also require multiple coats to achieve the best look. Practical locations would include kitchens, bathrooms, trim work, and chair rails that would be high-traffic and/or high-moisture areas.

Goose Creek bathroom


The Satin finish name is deceiving. While still offering a luxurious feel, this finish is more often described as velvety or pearl-like. It is an easy-to-clean finish that is also good in frequently used areas. The biggest downside with this paint finish is that application flaws are easily revealed and touch-ups are difficult. The most practical places to use the Satin finish are in family rooms, foyers, hallways, and kids rooms.


Eggshell bridges the gap between durability and sheen. Just like its namesake, a chicken egg, there is almost no shine to this finish, but that says nothing about its durability. This finish can cover wall imperfections and does great in spaces that are not as frequently scuffed up such as dining rooms and living rooms.


Sometimes the Flat and Matte finishes are split up, but they are very similar. They have low light reflectivity, meaning that they are friends to walls with imperfections. These are much harder to clean without taking the paint off with the grime, but touch ups blend easily. The best applications for these would be in low traffic areas such as bedrooms, ceilings, and other interior walls that won’t be roughed up.

Rule of Thumb

The best rule of thumb to remember with picking out paint finish is: the higher the shine, the more durable it will be. Knowing how you use your spaces and how much they are used will help with the paint finish decision making process.

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