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How to Choose Paint Finish

How to Choose Paint Finish

If you’ve ever been to a paint store then you know there is an overwhelming number of options – hundreds of colors and also several paint finishes to choose from. But what is paint finish and which one is right for your project? This guide will explain more about paint finish including how to choose paint finish for your home.

What Is Paint Finish?

Paint finish is also known as paint sheen. It refers to the luster and ranges from flat (no shine) to high gloss (very shiny). In practice, the paint finish also denotes the durability and washability of the paint, with glossier finishes being more durable and washable over time. Common paint finishes in order of sheen are: flat/matte, eggshell, satin, semi-gloss, and high-gloss.

How to Choose Paint Finish

Now that you have a general understanding of the concept, let’s run through the steps of how to choose interior paint finish.

1. What room are you painting?

Knowing what room you are painting will give you a baseline estimate for what type of paint finish you should choose. The most popular paint finishes for each room or application are:

  • Trim – High-gloss
  • Kitchen – Semi-gloss
  • Bathroom – Semi-gloss
  • Living Room – Satin or Eggshell
  • Bedrooms – Satin or Eggshell
  • Home Office & Low Traffic Rooms – Flat
  • Ceilings – Flat

As we mentioned, knowing the room gives you a baseline, but you should walk through the rest of the steps to adjust this baseline accordingly. These next steps of how to choose paint finish will be specific to your unique situation.

2. How messy does the room get?

When people wonder what paint finish for kitchen painting, the answer is typically semi-gloss because we all know that kitchens get dirty and therefore need a paint that can be easily wiped up. However, other rooms are so straightforward.

Take the bedroom for example. An adult’s bedroom may not get that messy, so while you could go with the traditional satin or eggshell, you may also go down a notch in luster by choosing flat. However, if you’re painting a kid’s bedroom (for example, a toddler who likes to put their hands on everything), you would be wiser to move up a notch and use semi-gloss paint that is easier to clean.

3. How much traffic does the room get?

In considering what paint finish to use, you also should consider how much traffic the room gets. High traffic areas get messier no matter who the occupants are, so if you have a busy mudroom or an active living room, for example, then you should consider a higher sheen.

4. Who are the room & house occupants?

Another consideration when choosing paint finish are the occupants. Picture a family room that is occupied by young kids, then picture another family room occupied by adults and young adults – the child-occupied room is a likely candidate for a higher sheen as a precautionary measure against potential messes. Now picture two kitchens – one is owned by a budding chef who loves to experiment with recipes and the other is owned by a bachelor who orders out 7 days a week. The bachelor may consider skipping the semi-gloss and choosing satin instead. Finally, families with particularly active young children may consider painting all rooms in semi-gloss and satin, avoiding the lower sheens altogether.

5. What is your budget?

A final consideration is budget. As you go up in sheen, costs also rise, meaning that a high-gloss paint is more expensive than a flat or matte paint. When working within your budget, try to get the highest appropriate sheen for that room, while remembering that if you go too low you may need to repaint more frequently, which is also a cost.

The steps for how to choose paint finish go on the principle that you should start with a baseline and then adjust according to your unique circumstances so that the room, occupants and traffic are all factored in. Choosing the right paint finish will make upkeep easier and prolong the life of your paint.

Want more painting ideas and inspiration? Call us at (510) 655-7000 to discuss your next painting project and then check out MB Jessee’s Painting Ideas Pinterest board!

Follow MB Jessee's board Painting Tips on Pinterest.

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