Monday, 15 February 2010

What everybody should know about paint finishes

Have you been in a situation where you decided to paint your rooms and you've finally come to a decision on the colour but then you find yourself in the DIY shop in front of lots of different finishes not knowing which one to go for?
Well, here is a short overview about the five basic finishes, which are flat, eggshell, satin, semi-gloss and high-gloss. They differ from each other regarding sheen, resistance to stains, water-resistance, durability, texture and maintenance. The basic rule is: The shinier and glossier the paint, the better it will resist stains and the easier it will be to clean but it will also highlight imperfections in the walls.

Flat Paint:
Flat paint is totally shine free and non-reflective. Therefore, it hides imperfections on walls best and looks very elegant. On the downside the porous texture tends to collect dirt but the paint is nearly impossible to clean. Flat paint is therefore best used in low traffic areas that don't get soiled, e.g. ceilings.

Eggshell Paint:
Eggshell paint is non-shiny as well but gives more warmth and depth to the surface than flat paints. It resists dirt better then flat paints and although it's not as stain resistant as the glossier paints, it can be washed and scrubbed without showing any damage. It's very durable and therefore suitabale for high traffic areas, e.g. hallways.

Satin Paint:
Satin paint has a medium gloss, which makes it more reflective and less able to hide imperfections. The advantage is that it's more stain resitant and easy to clean although it does not withstand a proper scrubbing as well as eggshell paint does, but due to its stain resistance this should not be necessary anyway. It's therefore suitable for locations that get dirty easily, like children's bedrooms or kitchens.

Semi-gloss Paint:
Semi-gloss paint is glossier than satin paint, resists dirt very well and is very easy to clean. It's very durable and therefore perfect for children's bedrooms, bathrooms and kitchens but also woodwork.

High-gloss Paint:
High-gloss paint is very shiny and therefore highly reflective, highlighting all imperfections in your walls. It's the toughest, most durable and most stain resistant finish and therefore suitable for the sink and stove area in the kitchen. It's often used for cabinets, banisters, doors and windows and it's also ideal for chairs, tables and dressers.
This should give you a basic understanding of the main paint finishes and help you to make an executive decision. ;-)


  1. Yes Nadine!!Of course!!!!in the shop with the colour carpet, and a lot of people behind me!!!;-)

  2. Thanks Nadine for this list. It's very clear and instructive.
    And I hate making other people wait and I hate even more buying the wrong stuff so this list is excellent to bear in mind before going to the shops!
    Have a lovely day!

  3. Little things that are important to know !
    Thanks for sharing!

  4. My husband used to develop paint formulas
    many moons ago.
    A thoughtful post!