Types of Paint Finishes for Your Home: Pros and Cons for Each

Choosing the Perfect Paint Finish: Exploring Options, Advantages, and Considerations

Painting a room is a transformative endeavor, capable of rejuvenating a space and setting the tone for its ambiance. Yet, choosing the right paint finish is a decision that goes beyond just selecting a color. The finish you choose can significantly impact not only the aesthetic appeal of your walls but also their durability, ease of maintenance, and ability to hide imperfections. In this article, we will embark on a journey through the world of paint finishes, providing you with an insightful overview of the different types available. 

More importantly, we will delve into the pros and cons of each finish type, equipping you with the knowledge you need to make informed decisions for your next painting project. Whether you’re aiming for a sleek, glossy look or a subdued matte finish, understanding the characteristics of various paint finishes is essential in achieving your desired results. 

So, let’s dive in and explore the fascinating world of paint finishes and discover which one suits your needs best.

House Paint Sheens & Finishes

  • Flat
  • Eggshell
  • Satin
  • Semi-Gloss
  • Gloss
eggshell paint sheen

Flat Finish

A Versatile Choice for Certain Spaces

Flat finishes, also known as matte finishes, bring a subtle elegance to interior walls. Ideal for rooms where you want a relaxed and cozy ambiance, they excel in concealing imperfections. Consider flat finishes for bedrooms, living rooms, and dining areas, where diffused light and a touch of sophistication are desired.

Definition and Characteristics of a Flat Finish

A flat finish, often referred to as matte finish, is characterized by its low level of sheen or gloss. This type of paint finish is known for its velvety, non-reflective appearance, making it an excellent choice for those seeking a subtle and understated look on their walls. The key defining characteristic of a flat finish is its ability to absorb and disperse light, resulting in a smooth, uniform surface without any shine or reflection.


Pros of Using a Flat Finish

Conceals Imperfections

  • One of the primary advantages of using a flat finish is its exceptional ability to hide surface imperfections. It effectively camouflages minor cracks, bumps, and drywall seams, creating a clean and flawless appearance. This makes it an ideal choice for older homes or walls with less-than-perfect conditions.

Diffuses Light

  • Flat finishes are excellent at diffusing light. Instead of reflecting it, they scatter light in all directions, reducing glare and creating a soft, inviting atmosphere in a room. This quality can help create a cozy and relaxed ambiance in bedrooms, living rooms, and other areas where comfort is paramount.

Easy Touch-Up

  • Should your walls require touch-ups or repainting in the future, flat finishes are forgiving in this regard. The absence of gloss means that touch-ups are less likely to stand out, and you can seamlessly blend new paint with the existing surface without noticeable variations in sheen.


Cons of Using a Flat Finish

Limited Durability: 

  • While flat finishes excel in concealing imperfections, they are not the most durable option. They are more prone to scuffing, chipping, and staining compared to higher gloss finishes. This makes them less suitable for areas that experience heavy wear and tear.

Difficult to Clean: 

  • Flat finishes are notoriously difficult to clean. Due to their porous nature, dirt and stains tend to adhere to the surface, making them challenging to remove without damaging the paint. Cleaning flat-painted walls often requires gentle techniques to prevent paint degradation.

Not Ideal for High-Traffic Areas: 

  • Because of their limited durability and difficulty in cleaning, flat finishes are not recommended for high-traffic areas like hallways, kitchens, or bathrooms. In these spaces, where frequent cleaning and resistance to wear and tear are essential, other paint finishes like semi-gloss or satin may be more suitable.


Understanding the characteristics and trade-offs of a flat finish is crucial when deciding whether it’s the right choice for your specific painting project. While it offers distinct advantages in terms of concealing imperfections and creating a soft, diffused light, its limitations in terms of durability and ease of cleaning should also be carefully considered.

Eggshell Finish

Elegant and Versatile Wall Paint: The Eggshell Sheen

Embracing the gentle glow reminiscent of an eggshell, this finish strikes the perfect balance between matte and satin. Ideal for spaces requiring sophistication and easy maintenance, it offers subtle sheen, making it a popular choice for interior walls in moderate-traffic areas.

Definition and Characteristics of an Eggshell Finish

An eggshell finish strikes a balance between matte and satin, offering a subtle hint of sheen that resembles the soft glow of an eggshell. It is a popular choice for interior walls and has distinct characteristics that set it apart.


Pros of Using an Eggshell Finish

Slight Sheen Adds Depth: 

  • Eggshell finishes provide walls with a slight sheen that adds depth and elegance to a room. The subtle shine helps to reflect light gently, creating a warm and inviting atmosphere without the high gloss of some other finishes.

More Washable Than Flat Finish: 

  • Compared to flat finishes, eggshell finishes are more washable. They can withstand light cleaning and are less likely to absorb dirt and stains, making them suitable for areas that may require occasional cleaning, such as living rooms and bedrooms.

Suitable for Moderate-Traffic Areas: 

  • Eggshell finishes strike a balance between durability and aesthetics, making them well-suited for moderate-traffic areas. They can withstand daily life’s wear and tear better than flat finishes, making them a versatile choice for various rooms.


Cons of Using an Eggshell Finish

Not as Durable as Semi-Gloss or Gloss Finishes: 

  • While more durable than flat finishes, eggshell finishes are still not as robust as semi-gloss or gloss finishes. They may not hold up as well in high-traffic or high-moisture environments, so careful consideration is needed when choosing the right finish for specific spaces.

May Not Hide Imperfections as Well as Flat Finish: 

  • Eggshell finishes, while having some ability to hide minor imperfections, may not do so as effectively as flat finishes. If your walls have substantial flaws or uneven surfaces, additional surface preparation may be necessary before applying an eggshell finish.

Understanding the characteristics of an eggshell finish can help you make an informed decision when choosing the right paint finish for your space. It strikes a balance between matte and satin, offering a subtle sheen that adds sophistication and is well-suited for rooms with moderate levels of activity and occasional cleaning needs. However, its durability and imperfection-hiding capabilities fall between those of flat and higher-gloss finishes.

Painting a room in Plano, Texas.

Satin Finish

Definition and Characteristics of a Satin Finish

A satin finish is renowned for its gentle, elegant luster, falling between matte and semi-gloss on the sheen spectrum. Its unique characteristics make it a versatile choice for various interior surfaces, offering a touch of sophistication.


Pros of Using a Satin Finish


Slight Gloss for Added Elegance: 

  • The subtle gloss of a satin finish adds a touch of sophistication to any room. It provides a soft, inviting sheen that enhances the visual appeal of walls and trim, making it suitable for both modern and classic aesthetics.

Durable and Washable: 

  • Satin finishes are known for their durability and ease of maintenance. They can withstand regular cleaning and are resistant to stains, making them ideal for high-traffic areas such as hallways, family rooms, and kitchens.

Suitable for Various Surfaces: 

  • Satin finishes are versatile and can be applied to a wide range of surfaces, including wood, metal, and drywall. This adaptability makes them an excellent choice for achieving a consistent look throughout a space.


Cons of Using a Satin Finish


May Highlight Surface Imperfections: 

  • While satin finishes can hide minor imperfections better than glossier finishes, they may still accentuate certain flaws, such as drywall seams or patches. Proper surface preparation is essential to achieve the desired smooth appearance.

Not as Glossy as Semi-Gloss or Gloss Finishes:

  • If you’re seeking a high-gloss, reflective look, a satin finish may not provide the level of shine you desire. While it offers elegance, it doesn’t match the extreme glossiness of semi-gloss or gloss finishes.


Understanding the characteristics of a satin finish allows you to make an informed decision when choosing the right paint finish for your space. It strikes a balance between elegance and practicality, offering a gentle sheen that is both durable and versatile, making it suitable for a wide range of applications. However, it’s important to note that it may not be the best choice for surfaces with significant imperfections or if you’re aiming for a high-gloss aesthetic.

Painting company Plano Texas

Semi-Gloss Finish

Definition and Characteristics of a Semi-Gloss Finish

A semi-gloss finish represents a step up on the sheen scale, offering a noticeable shine without reaching the extreme glossiness of a gloss finish. This type of finish has distinct characteristics that make it a popular choice for various applications.


Pros of Using a Semi-Gloss Finish


High Durability and Washability: 

  • Semi-gloss finishes are known for their exceptional durability and washability. They can withstand frequent cleaning and are resistant to scuffs, making them ideal for high-traffic areas like kitchens, bathrooms, and children’s rooms.

Reflects Light, Making Spaces Appear Brighter: 

  • The slight gloss of a semi-gloss finish helps reflect light, creating a brighter and more open feel in a room. This makes it an excellent choice for spaces that could benefit from enhanced illumination.

Resists Moisture and Stains: 

  • Semi-gloss finishes have a natural resistance to moisture and stains, making them suitable for areas prone to humidity and splashes, such as bathrooms and kitchens. Their ability to repel moisture also helps prevent the growth of mold and mildew.


Cons of Using a Semi-Gloss Finish


May Emphasize Surface Flaws: 

  • Semi-gloss finishes, due to their higher sheen, have the potential to accentuate surface imperfections and irregularities. Proper surface preparation, including smoothing and priming, is crucial when using semi-gloss to achieve a flawless appearance.

Not Suitable for Walls with Significant Imperfections: 

  • If your walls have noticeable flaws or uneven surfaces, a semi-gloss finish may not be the best choice. Imperfections can become more apparent under the increased light reflection, detracting from the overall aesthetic.


Semi-gloss finishes strike a balance between durability, aesthetics, and practicality. They offer high durability, easy maintenance, and the ability to brighten spaces with reflected light. However, they require careful surface preparation to avoid emphasizing imperfections and may not be suitable for walls with significant flaws. Understanding these characteristics can help you make an informed decision when selecting the right paint finish for your specific needs.

gloss trim paint

Gloss Finish

Definition and Characteristics of a Gloss Finish

A gloss finish, often referred to as high gloss, is the shiniest and most reflective of all paint finishes. It is characterized by its mirror-like surface and is known for its striking appearance.


Pros of Using a Gloss Finish


Maximum Durability and Washability: 

  • Gloss finishes are incredibly durable and resistant to wear and tear. They can withstand frequent cleaning, making them suitable for areas that require high levels of maintenance and hygiene, such as kitchens and bathrooms.

High Shine for a Polished Look: 

  • The hallmark of a gloss finish is its high shine, which imparts a luxurious and polished look to surfaces. This glossy sheen can make a space feel modern, sophisticated, and visually appealing.

Resistant to Moisture and Stains: 

  • Gloss finishes are highly resistant to moisture, stains, and even mold or mildew. This makes them an ideal choice for areas prone to humidity and splashes, such as kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry rooms.


Cons of Using a Gloss Finish


Highlights Surface Imperfections: 

  • Gloss finishes are unforgiving when it comes to surface imperfections. They can make even minor flaws, like uneven drywall seams or bumps, stand out prominently. Extensive surface preparation, including smoothing and priming, is necessary to achieve a flawless result.

May Require Extensive Surface Preparation: 

  • Achieving a smooth and flawless glossy surface often necessitates thorough surface preparation, including filling cracks, sanding, and applying multiple coats. This can be time-consuming and labor-intensive.

May Be Too Shiny for Some Aesthetics: 

  • The extreme shine of a gloss finish may not be suitable for all aesthetics or design preferences. Some individuals may find it too flashy or reflective, especially in well-lit spaces.


Gloss finishes are the epitome of durability, shine, and resistance to moisture and stains. They are an excellent choice for areas requiring frequent cleaning and a polished appearance. However, they demand meticulous surface preparation to avoid highlighting imperfections and may not align with every aesthetic vision. Understanding the characteristics of a gloss finish is crucial when deciding whether it’s the right choice for your specific painting project.

kitchen wall painting color ideas
kitchen paint color ideas

What type of paint should I use for my home's interior and exterior?

When it comes to choosing the best paint for your home’s interior and exterior, you have plenty of options. Each manufacturer has its own line of paints that can accommodate different budgets, surfaces, and styles.

Of the four big players: Sherwin-Williams, Benjamin Moore, Behr and Valspar all offer quality products with differing benefits. 


  • Sherwin-Williams

    is known for their wide variety of colors and finishes as well as their low odor paints meant to be used indoors. They also offer a line of products called Emerald that offers excellent coverage in one coat. 


  • Benjamin Moore

    has been around for over 130 years so they certainly know what they’re doing. Their Aura line is great for interiors because it provides good coverage while still being environmentally friendly. 


  • Behr

    offers both interior and exterior paints with varying levels of glossiness and opacity meaning you can customize your look depending on the aesthetic you are going for. They also specialize in mold resistant paints which may be especially useful if you live in an area with high humidity levels or moist climates. 


  • Valspar

    specializes in creating durable coating systems that can withstand extreme temperatures while providing a smooth finish to walls both inside and outside the house—ideal if you’re looking to protect your investment from nature’s elements like wind or rain!


At Paint Ovations we mostly use Sherwin-Williams or Benjamin Moore Paints for the high quality and customer service from our painting reps. We stand behind these products and so do our vendors.

Can a painting contractor help me choose sheen or finish for my home?

Yes, a painting contractor can help you select the right colors and finishes for your home’s walls, ceiling, doors and trim. Usually they will discuss with you what type of look and feel you want to achieve with the paint job before making any recommendations. They have an extensive knowledge of different paint products and finishes that can make even the most mundane room appear warm and inviting.

The painter may also suggest shades of color that would be complementary to existing furniture or rugs as well as provide ideas on how different lighting will affect your choice in paint finish selection.

Ultimately, it is up to you to decide what colors to choose based on their advice but often this extra step proves invaluable in helping make sure the finished project looks its absolute best!

FAQs About Paint Sheen

For high-traffic areas like hallways, kitchens, and family rooms, it’s best to choose a durable finish like semi-gloss or satin. These finishes can withstand wear and tear and are easier to clean.

If your walls have texture or imperfections, a flat or eggshell finish is a good choice as it tends to hide flaws better than glossier finishes. However, be prepared to invest in proper surface preparation for the best results.

While you can use the same paint finish throughout your home for consistency, it’s essential to consider the specific needs of each room. For example, use flat finishes in bedrooms for a cozy feel, semi-gloss in kitchens and bathrooms for easy cleaning, and satin or eggshell finishes in living areas for a touch of elegance.

Primer is essential, especially when painting over new or repaired surfaces, or when making a significant color change. It helps with adhesion, coverage, and achieving a smooth, even finish. Always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for primer and paint compatibility.


In the world of paint finishes, each type offers its own set of advantages and drawbacks. Flat finishes excel in concealing imperfections but may lack the durability required in high-traffic areas. Eggshell finishes strike a balance between elegance and practicality. Satin finishes introduce a subtle shine, while semi-gloss finishes offer enhanced durability and brightness. Gloss finishes, with their high shine, cater to those seeking maximum durability and a luxurious look.

Ultimately, the choice of paint finish should align with the specific needs of your space and your personal preferences. Consider the room’s purpose, its level of activity, and your desired aesthetic. When choosing a paint finish, it’s essential to balance aesthetics with functionality, ensuring that the finish not only looks good but also performs well in its intended environment.

In closing, making an informed decision about your paint finish is key to achieving the desired look and performance for your painting projects. Take the time to assess your space, explore the pros and cons of each finish type, and choose the one that best suits your needs. By doing so, you’ll be well-equipped to transform your space with the perfect paint finish.