/ / A Guide For Different House Paint Finishes

A Guide for Different House Paint Finishes

Choosing the right house paint can be complicated. Whether you’ve just moved into your new place or you’ve been living there a while and feel like a change, picking the right paint finish is very important.

Outside of paint finishes, paint colors can send you for a loop as well. Would neutrals help create a cozy warm feel? Do you go bold with the latest trend? Or do you play it safe with a commonly used interior variation of white?

As with your decision on the color, you should consider both style and practicality when selecting between interior house paint finishes, (also known as sheen.)

That means thinking about the pre-existing finish and condition of the walls, what the room will be used for, and the aesthetics of your chosen finish.

What Does Paint Finish Sheen Mean?

Before we get started comparing matte finish paint and satin finish paint, it’s important to understand that there is actually a means for paint manufactures to measure the sheen for paint finishes.

This scale ranges from flat or matte paint, which has no or very low sheen, to high-gloss which has a very bright sheen.

Matte paint is 0 to 10 percent gloss and gives a smooth finish. It absorbs the majority of light entering the room to give a low-luster appearance.

Eggshell is 10 to 25 percent gloss and has a slight sheen. Satin is 25 to 35 percent gloss. It retains its pearl-like sheen when dry to reflect some light.

Semi-gloss is 35 to 70 percent gloss and reflects a lot of light. High-gloss is anything from 70 percent gloss and up. This finish provides a bright sheen when dry, reflecting the most light.

The most popular finishes for interior painting are satin and matte. Read on to find out the pros and cons of both, as well as which rooms each is more suitable for.

Matte Finish Paint

Here are some factors to consider when deciding which rooms to paint with a matte finish.


A big advantage of a matte finish is that it covers imperfections in the surface of your walls. If your home has pitted, cracked, or rough walls, matte paint can help to disguise these problems.

Matte paint also covers imperfections in paint application. This makes it easier for non-professionals to use.

It’s also easy to apply touch-ups with matte paint. So, if your wall does get marked, covering it up won’t be a problem.


In general, matte paint holds dirt and can be difficult to clean. This is because cleaning can actually remove the paint finish.

As a result, matte paint finishes do not mix well with children and pets.

Matte paint works well in adult bedrooms, hallways, and home offices. It can also be suitable for the living room and dining room. But, this does depend on how much traffic these rooms get.

You should not choose matte paint for a child’s bedroom, where handprints, scuffs, and even the occasional bit of graffiti are common occurrences.

Likewise, avoid matte paint in the bathroom or the kitchen. The walls of these rooms are susceptible to humidity, water, soap, and grease so easy cleaning is a must.

Matte paint is also ideal for ceilings thanks to its easy application and added sensation of height.

Satin Finish Paint

In comparison, you should consider satin finish paint for certain rooms due to the following factors. Take a look.


Unlike matte paint, a satin finish reflects light and offers a protective barrier that stands up well to washing. This means that dirt and marks are easy to clean from walls and surfaces painted in a satin finish.


A satin finish doesn’t hide imperfections on the surfaces of your walls. This is because the way it reflects the light means that rough surfaces, bumps, and indentations are exaggerated.

Satin paint is also thinner, making it harder to work with. As a result, it is more difficult to control for a smooth finish.

This isn’t a problem if you hire a professional painter. But, if you plan on painting on your own, using a satin paint finish may highlight a less-than-perfect painting technique.

And, a satin finish will make any touch-ups stand out. So, if your painted wall is marked beyond the surface level, hiding this will be more difficult.

Satin paint is ideal for rooms with more traffic, where the walls have more of a chance of being marked, stained, or exposed to humidity.

This means it works well in kitchens, laundry rooms, and bathrooms, where your walls will need to withstand water, humidity, splatters, and stains.

A satin finish is also recommended for children’s bedrooms and playrooms due to the high chance of wall marking. And, if your living room and dining room experience a lot of traffic then satin paint could be a better choice.

Trim and molding throughout the house should also be painted with satin paint. And, if you choose to paint your doors then satin paint is a must so those inevitable handprints can easily be wiped off.

Other Paint Finish Considerations

As well as the practical aspects of choosing the right paint finish for each part of your home, you should also consider the overall aesthetic effect in the room.

Matte paint can be a better choice for rooms with a lot of natural light. Shinier paints in large rooms with a lot of light can be distracting, while matte gives a calmer effect.

In contrast, rooms with little to no natural light may need the added boost of satin paint and the way it reflects light.

Also, if you have chosen a darker shade for your walls, you may not need to worry so much about marks from children and pets. As such, it can be helpful to consider the color and the finish at the same time when choosing the right paint for each room.

Your Guide to Satin vs Matte Finishes

With this clear guide of comparing satin vs matte paint, it should be easier to choose the right finish for all of your home’s walls and surfaces.

For the professional services your walls deserve, contact us for a free quote today!

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