How-To - Painting

Paint finishes

Know what type of paint finish to use and where in your home with this handy cheat sheet.

Besides having clearly different visual qualities, paint finishes exist for different purposes. Here’s a foolproof cheat sheet to take with you when you are buying paint.

Photography by Zach DeSart

  • Pros: Because it reflects little light, a flat finish is good for concealing imperfections and has a classic old-world feel.
  • Cons: Arguably the most delicate of the bunch, flat-finish paint is difficult to clean and will show every scuff and fingerprint.
  • Where to use it: A low-traffic area, or on the ceiling.

  • Pros: This has some of the lowsheen qualities of a flat finish, but is a bit easier to care for.
  • Cons: It’s still difficult to clean and marks easily.
  • Where to use: it Almost any room, barring kid-heavy zones.

  • Pros: Reflects a significant amount of light and is easy to clean.
  • Cons: Reveals every imperfection in your walls, every brushstroke, and the frequent “orange-peel finish” of a roller brush.
  • Where to use: it It’s ideal for doors, trim, casework, bathrooms, and kitchens. Make sure walls get a good skim coat first.

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