Finishes for Interior Painting, Explained

Professional painters spend years perfecting their craft. Learning which techniques and tools work best on different construction materials and in various settings helps them transform a client’s vision into reality.

Painters do more than paint. They share their knowledge with their clients because they know a well-informed client makes better decision. Helping customers understand how interior finishes affect the aesthetics and functionality is something that interior painters do every day.

Choosing the correct gloss for interior walls is all about balancing appearance with performance.

As you compare finish options, remember that paints with a high gloss (sheen) are more durable and easier to keep clean, but they also reveal surface imperfections.

Flat/Matte: The lowest gloss option available. It is best suited for low-traffic areas and ceilings where avoiding stains, scuff marks and moisture are not typically a concern. They offer the finest technical finish by minimizing the appearance of most types of surface imperfections. Colors may appear cloudy or less vibrant, and flat-painted broad wall areas tend to collect airborne dust and debris.

Low LusterAs an all-purpose wall covering, low luster finishes provide improved durability over flats while minimizing the effect of sheen. They often see use in bedrooms, hallways and other areas that get daily activity. Like flats, low lusters are suitable for ceilings and walls, but not trim items such as doors, windows and moldings.

Satin/Eggshell: A highly popular mid-level paint solution offering an optimal balance between appearance and durability. Satin finishes are suitable for almost any wall surface, in every room, and they provide a depth and warmth not available with flat and low lusters paints.

Semi-Gloss: A popular choice for many customers with high-durability needs. Semi-gloss paints are easier to keep clean and last longer. A great coating for trim items. They also make a great choice for rental properties, play rooms, bathrooms, and utility rooms, where broad wall imperfections are minor or not an objective concern.

High-Gloss: People who prefer clean, intense color often choose paint with high reflectivity. With greater than 80% gloss, this option highlights every dent, ding and imperfection. It is best used on textured wall surfaces which hide imperfections, and high wear surfaces such as doors, door frames and base moldings. Higher gloss levels mean the painted surface can stand up to heavy traffic, as well as regular scrubbing to remove grime, fingerprints and grease. Kitchens, bathrooms and playrooms often demand higher gloss levels.

Choosing an interior finish is challenging for many homeowners, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Professional painting contractors understand how to use gloss levels to control color and performance. If you’re thinking of updating your interior decor, and aren’t sure which paint type is best for each area in your home, invite a professional to provide an estimate and recommendations.