Choosing a Paint Finish

The most basic of DIY projects is painting but selecting a paint finish that you’ll be happy with can be as arduous a task as choosing the proper color. Paint finishes come in two basic categories, flat and glosses. Flat finishes are great at absorbing light and give a matte look but they aren’t easily cleaned while glosses are stain-resistant, washable, and reflect light.
Here’s a more refined list of finish categories for latex (water-based) paint.

  • High-gloss finish: very shiny, stain-resistant, great for kid’s rooms and often times used for painting furniture
  • Semi-gloss finish: medium shiny, withstands frequent washing, good for trim and moldings, kitchens and bathrooms
  • Satin finish: great for any room and dries to a soft velvet look with a bit of a sheen, washable
  • Eggshell finish: works for interior walls and has a bit of a shine but is considered low luster
  • Flat finish: matte results that are often used for cutting and filling bare spots, opaque and absorbs light, not great for high-traffic areas, does not clean well
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Timothy Dahl

Timothy Dahl

Founder/EIC at Charles & Hudson
Timothy’s background includes stints at This Old House, ELLE DECOR, Metropolitan Home and Woman’s Day. His work has been published on Wired Design, Bob Vila, DIY Network, The Family Handyman and Popular Mechanics and he has been featured on the Martha Stewart radio show and as a speaker at the ALT Design Summit, K/BIS and the National Hardware Show.
Timothy Dahl

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