Picking the Right Paint

by Judy Cooper 04/21/2019

Every wall in your home has a chance to change the entire look. No matter if you are prepping you’re home for sale or visualizing what each home you want to buy will look like, knowing the differences in your choices makes all the difference. The plethora of paint colors available can be overwhelming, but even once you pick the color or colors you want, you still must choose the finish. Each color will come in up to six different finishes from matte to high gloss. Each finish works with wall textures and light differently, and adding its texture and visual effect anywhere used.

 Paint finishes have two main features, their texture and light reflectivity. Texture moves from a dryer to slicker finish, and light reflectivity runs from dim to shiny. You can use these effects to change how reflected light works in your rooms. Generating more light makes rooms feel larger or warmer, less reflective walls to create a cozy feel.

The Six Finishes

  • Matte – Dry and not reflective: A matte finish is the most basic of paint types. Often just called "wall paint" or "flat finish" this chalky, non-reflective paint is excellent for covering up cracks, small holes, bumps, scratches, and other imperfections by preventing light from reflective off them. Matte finish paints are great for interior walls, and tend to be less expensive, but are also easier to mark up and don't work as well for increasing the spatial feel of the room. However, since the paint absorbs light instead of reflecting it, matte paints are perfect for offices or media rooms with large screens. It is also the best choice for projector walls and can save you the cost of a screen.
  • Flat Enamel – Slightly slick and not very reflective: Nearly the same as a matte finish paint, flat enamel paint finishes combine a flat paint with a more durable finish. In addition to adding just a touch of shine, flat enamel paint is resistant to marking and is more durable in general. That increased durability makes the paint easier to clean and gives rise to its other name: "Kids Room Paint."
  • Eggshell – somewhat slick and reflective: So named for its similarity to real egg shells, eggshell finish is a bit more durable than flat enamel and has just a bit of gloss added to it. This finish allows the paint to be more resistant to stains and stand up better under cleaning but also gives it just a bit of shine. Eggshell is the perfect choice for interior walls due to its deeper coloring and moderate light reflectivity. It creates pure, subtle colors and the benefit of light reflectivity when a glossier finish would be just too much for the space.
  • Satin – moderately slick and reflective: Satin finish paints hold up exceptionally well under cleaning and resist most stains. They are popular for door and window trim since they can stand up to regular exposure and use. A bit more reflective than eggshell, flat or matte paints, satin finishes are a good middle ground for ceilings needing more reflective finish but that have too many imperfections for a semi-gloss or glossy finish.
  • Semi-gloss – slick and reflective: Semi-gloss finish paints resist the majority of smudges, stains, and marks. When they do get dirty, semi-gloss paints are extremely durable and stand up well under proper cleaning. With some of the most accurate color tones, it is easy to default to this choice. You must be careful though. The fact that this paint reflects and refracts light can do much for your room, but also shows every imperfection in the painted surface. When using semi-gloss paints, be very careful when preparing the surface and ensure that all defects are smoothed and cleaned.
  • Glossy – highly slick and reflective: Glossy or "high gloss" finish paints work very similarly to fingernail polish. When applied correctly, they create a smooth finish especially good for furniture and cabinets. As the most durable of paint choices, these work well in kitchen and living areas that get a lot of use. Even more so than semi-gloss paints, glossy finishes are entirely unforgiving. If you don't adequately prepare the surface, or if it has any imperfections all glitches will be amplified by the extremely shiny nature of the paint. Always make sure you follow the usage and preparation instructions that come with the paint to the letter, or sadly, you could end up with a horrible mess.

If you're preparing your home for sale, talk to your real estate agent about the best colors and finishes for your property. You want to show the house at its best, and making the right finish choices makes all the difference.

About the Author

Judy Cooper

Hi, I'm Judy Cooper and I'd love to assist you. Whether you're in the research phase at the beginning of your real estate search or you know exactly what you're looking for, you'll benefit from having a real estate professional by your side. I'd be honored to put my real estate experience to work for you.