How to Choose the Right Paint Finish

Last updated: December 10, 2012

Freshly painted living room

Choosing the perfect colour is just one step in choosing the right paint for a room. One other and often overlooked step is choosing the right finish for the room. We will discuss the different finish options below:

Flat/Matte Finish

This finish is normally used on interior wall surfaces and provides a finish that is completely matte with no shine whatsoever. Since the finish does not reflect light, it is a great paint to use if you want to hide small bumps and cracks in the wall as well as other minor wall imperfections. In the past, flat paints were not as desirable as they were not washable. Today however, there are many lines that offer washable flat paints. In addition, ceilings are normally painted with a flat paint.

Eggshell Finish

The best way to picture this finish is to think of the sheen on the shell of an egg. This finish offers a low shine finish and tends to be more durable than a matte finish. An eggshell finish is a great alternative to flat finish paint in higher traffic areas and in areas that tend to need more cleaning as it is more durable.

Satin Finish

This finish offers a smooth, velvety looking finish with more shine than an eggshell finish. It is mostly used on windows, doors and trim but can also be used on wall surfaces. When choosing a satin finish for wall surfaces, we suggest only using this finish in bathrooms and kitchens as this finish can hold up to cleaning and light scrubbing and is better for rooms prone to humidity.


This paint finish is most often used on doors, trim and cabinets in the kitchen or bathroom. This finish offers a subtle shine without looking too glossy. It should be noted that due to the shiner finish, this kind of paint tends to highlight wall imperfections by reflecting light off of them. When using this paint, you should ensure that the surface being painted has been prepared properly and is smooth prior to painting.


Paints with a glossy finish have an almost reflective quality and the finish is similar to an enamel or plastic finish. High gloss finishes are not often used on interior walls but can be used on trim, cabinets and furniture to create a dramatic look. This finish tends to highlight surface imperfections more than semi-gloss as a result of the high gloss finish. Therefore, you should ensure that all surfaces have been sanded and prepared properly prior to painting. This finish offers the best durability and will stand up to washing and cleaning.