The Many Facets of Paint

ONE OF THE MOST frequently asked questions we receive by clients and contractors is, “What should the paint finish be?” It can be quite overwhelming when walking into the paint store and being presented with four or more finish options! Below we will go through the four basic paint finish options, and also review a few easy applications to make your paint journey easy and enjoyable.


Flat finish - or also called matte finish - is the least reflective paint and has no sheen or shine. Because of this, it is best for hiding any surface imperfections. While it is ideal for ceilings, us designers sometimes find that it is the most desirable finish on walls to achieve the best look for the color. Functionally, the downside is its ability to be cleaned is not always best for high traffic areas and little fingers. In recent years because of this, paint manufacturers have made advancements in technology to make the flat finishes more functional and wipe-able. Now with an upgraded paint, you can achieve a cleanable flat finish. These are offered by both Sherwin Williams and Benjamin Moore.


This finish is the most versatile and recommended finish for walls. Practical and easy to clean, this low luster finish is ideal for high traffic areas and kids rooms. The satin/eggshell finish is ideal for new construction – where walls are in pristine condition. You really can’t go wrong with this one, unless you have older construction or damaged walls. You may want to consider repairing your drywall prior to applying this finish.


This finish is the first with a visible sheen and is more resilient then satin/eggshell, making it very durable and cleanable. Semi-gloss finish is ideal for trim, doors and kitchen cabinets where cleanup is often needed. The downside to this finish, as with all finishes with any type of sheen, is its gloss and reflection of light shows more imperfections.


High Gloss paint is rarely specified in regards to walls, but can be applied where trims, etc. needs a sheen that can receive the worst wear. Because it is the most durable of the finishes and has the most shine, this makes it more of a paint design statement. Applying Gloss finishes as in regards to refinishing furniture can make a beautiful and impactful statement for a piece.


There are many ways to add punch to a room with paint. One way is with contrast. Painting the walls a deep, dark color and using a high contrasting trim, like the bright white trim pictured below, can add a lot of interest to your space. Keeping the furniture light and neutral in relation to the trim will also add to the highly contrasting statement.
If you want a luxe look, try painting cabinets in a dark gloss color. The more shine, the more saturated the color will be, giving you a big bold statement, as well.


One way to expand a space is to monopolize on light; bright and white! White walls, ceilings and trim with make a space appear larger. On the other hand, if you have a small space, try layers of a dark color. It will make the room cozy and welcoming without feeling confined, this can be ideal for a small study’s or reading room.


Have you ever had a HVAC closet door, attic door or return vent smack dab in the middle of your wall causing an immediate eyesore? Try painting it the same color and finish as the walls. This will immediately hide the item and make the wall continuous. Also, consider painting your light switch covers the wall color as well! Too many doors with no architectural purpose breaking up a large wall? Try painting them the same color as the wall, as shown below.


As you can see, with the right finish information and correct knowledge on what to paint and when, you can achieve painting bliss! Stick to the four basic finishes and general rules and you’ll impress your guests for years to come.



Blog written by Morgan Wilson | Residential Staff Designer