November 15, 2019

Designer Tips For Selecting The Perfect Paint Finish

Our Designer Tips For Selecting The Perfect Paint Finish

With a wealth of blogs dedicated to selecting the perfect paint color, we thought it might be helpful to chime in on the world of paint finishes. Ranging from traditional flat to oh-so-sassy gloss, what seems like a seemingly simple choice at first can become an overwhelming one when faced with painting your entire home.

Not to worry! We’re sharing a few trade secrets that should guide and inspire while also saving you from the massive (fume-induced) headache that generally accompanies painting mishaps. Scroll on!


Paint Finish Guide

Paint finishes can be tricky but our first, most important rule of thumb is to ALWAYS sample paint in your home before you buy gallons of the stuff and discover it leans more Pepto-Bismol than dusty rose… :/ Buy some samples and paint large sections of your space where you can really examine how the hue and finish look in your home’s unique light.

Paint Finish Guide Wall Samples

Expert Tip: Paint brands often go by their own set of rules when naming their paint finishes. For example, Benjamin Moore’s satin finish is equivalent to Sherwin William’s semi gloss, so, if in doubt, test it out!

We have a quick guide to the characteristics each finish will exhibit below. Brush up on your vocab and you’ll have no problem explaining what you want to your local painter!

Flat: A low sheen paint that is non-reflective with a matte appearance.

Eggshell: One step up from flat, eggshell paints have a velvety, barely noticeable sheen.

Satin: Right in the middle of the “glossy scale,” satin paints have a pearlized finish without looking shiny.

Semi Gloss: A sleek and shiny finish.

High Gloss: An extremely shiny finish that almost resembles glass. Lacquer is rarely used these days but it sure is fun, and this is the paint that will most closely mimic the look!

Satin and Semi Gloss

Navy Kitchen and Cabinets

Benjamin Moore’s “Hale Navy” in satin finish

Expert Tip: As a general rule, the glossier the paint, the easier it is to clean. This makes a satin or gloss finish ideal for baseboards that are subject to scuffing and kitchen cabinets that experience frequent run-ins with food!

Dining room with paneling in grey

Benjamin Moore’s “Smoke Embers” in semi-gloss finish

We love the tailored, more contemporary look satin finishes can lend trims and cabinets (you may start to notice it’s one of our fave paint finishes), but if you’re looking for a more traditional vibe, semi gloss will get you there.

Flat Paint

Neutral Sitting Room

Benjamin Moore’s “Grant Beige” in flat finish

A flat finish is perfect for bedrooms, living rooms, and studies, especially in older homes where sheetrock imperfections are to be expected; matte paints don’t reflect as much light helping to camouflage any structural flaws.

Flat Paint Dining Room

Benjamin Moore’s “Athena” in flat finish

Expert Tip: While we love flat paint, keep in mind that it is harder to clean, so avoid using it in areas that tend to get messy.

High Gloss

Let’s spend a moment dishing on that lacquer look! Due to its flammable nature and the difficulty artisans experienced applying the finish, lacquer is not as prevalently used as it once was. But paint companies have developed high gloss finishes that look nearly identical and that means you get all the beauty without the fuss.


Wendy-Labrum-Farrow and Ball Full Gloss Paint

Designed by Wendy Labrum in Farrow and Ball “Ellis Green” full gloss finish


A few of our favorites: Farrow and Ball’s Full Gloss or Fine Paints of Europe’s Eurolux Interior Gloss.

Expert Tip: High gloss paints make quite a statement but they’re tricky to apply, so it’s best to call on a professional if you’re planning to use the finish in your home. In addition, the higher the gloss, the more easily you can see imperfections in your trim or sheetrock, so stick with a flat paint in older homes where surfaces are often rough and uneven.


Design by Kate Ridder

We hope you’ve enjoyed all of the “finish fun” and we hope you drop by next week when we’ll be sharing our favorite color trends for your walls and trim!


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