Tue. Jun 25th, 2024
When To Use Different Paint Finishes

Whether you’re redecorating or painting a room for the very first time, choosing the right paint is more than just picking a colour that you like. Paint finishes can have a dramatic effect on the overall look of a paint, even between the same colours.

So, why and when should you be using the different finishes?


This paint gives a smooth, low sheen finish which is great for walls, ceilings and uneven surfaces. Matt paint is suitable for most surfaces, but the finish won’t do any heavy lifting beyond covering imperfections, so you will be more reliant on finding a colour that suits your space well.

Keep in mind though, that due to it’s low sheen and smooth finish, matt paint is more susceptible to general wear and tear from scuff marks than some other finishes. This might be something to consider if you’re painting an area that gets a lot of footfall or where brushing against the painted surface frequently happens.


Similar to matt, eggshell paint gives a smooth finish, but with a slight sheen like that of an eggshell – hence the name. Eggshell is the lowest lustre paint after matt, so is the first step to adding some more sheen to your walls.

Since eggshell paint carries some sheen, it is slightly more durable than matt paint, but is still not hugely resistant to wear and tear. Eggshell paint is well suited to living rooms and eating spaces, which are frequently used and would benefit from a more durable coat.


This finish falls into a sort of middle ground, between flat paint and high-gloss paints, with a distinctive glowing sheen. This is the next step up in the rung in sheen, satin paint is well suited to either high-wear areas or smaller spaces that would benefit from the impression of more light.

Satin paint can be easily maintained and can frequently be cleaned by wiping with a smooth cloth – this makes it perfect for kitchens, bathrooms or any other room with high footfall.


The name is on the tin when it comes to the finish, with a high sheen, “glossy” appearance. Gloss paint is very durable, but it can also be slightly overwhelming depending on its use, so it is much better used in small quantities or as a highlight.

Gloss paint is often the finish of choice for wooden surfaces, skirting boards, cupboards and doors. Due to its lustrous sheen, Gloss paint can be difficult to apply smoothly, so it’s important you pick the right tools for the job and use a suitable roller or paintbrush.

Colour and Finish

The last thing to consider when choosing the right finish is the relationship between colour and finish. For example, darker colours will naturally appear to have a higher sheen level due to their composition.

Try and choose a colour in a finish which complements the space you are picking and, if in doubt, pick up some sample pots to try out. The best way to see how a paint looks, is simply to apply a small amount, let it dry and then view it in the most common lighting conditions for your space. This will give you a good idea of how things will look when you finish, before committing to painting the entire space.

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