How to Choose a Paint Finish

How to Choose Paint Trim
Did you know that picking the right paint for your interior painting project involves more than just color selection

You also need to choose the right paint finish. Didn’t even think about the finish, did you? That’s ok! A lot of people underestimate the role paint finish plays in the appearance of your newly-painted room.

Choosing the right finish for your interior project will affect the look, durability, and ambiance of the room. Understanding the basic differences between paint finishes will help guide your selection process.

The most common interior paint finishes are: flat, matte, eggshell, satin, and semi-gloss. Let’s take a closer look at these 5 options:


Flat finish is only available in latex paint. It’s clean, opaque qualities make it a great choice for walls and ceilings. It is also the least shiny finish available. Unfortunately, it doesn’t clean well. So don’t use it for kitchens, bathrooms, or children’s bedrooms. The only way to get rid of drawings and fingerprints on a flat-finish wall is to paint over them!


Matte finishes are also low-shine. It’s perfect for busy areas such as hallways, family rooms, and kids’ rooms. It’s easy to apply, washable, and hides existing wall colors well.


Eggshell finishes are used for decorative finishes because it provides a low shine. It cleans up better than a flat finish would, but probably not as well as you would want in a kitchen or bathroom.

How to Choose a Paint FinishSatin

The most popular paint finish is the satin finish. It has more sheen than eggshell, and cleans better too! This finish is a good choice for woodwork, walls, doors, and hallways. It’s also great for bedrooms and dining rooms. While this finish is washable, it’s not “scrubbable,” so this is another one to skip if you’re painting a playroom.


A semi-gloss finish will give your room a subtle shine. It’s scrubbable without being too shiny. This makes it perfect for moldings, doors, windows – and little Picasso’s bedroom, too. However, because Semi-gloss finishes reflect light, imperfections in your walls are more noticeable. We recommend that you prep your walls and make them super smooth before applying paint.

Not sure which finish best matches your project? Check out this product comparison guide from Benjamin Moore.

Choosing the right paint finish is as important as picking a color. Not only does it impact the appearance of your room, it has a big effect on how well you will be able to clean and maintain your walls!

Now that you know which finishes to use, you are ready to pick out paint for your next project. Still not sure or need more help? Ask a GNH expert in our Greenville or Windham locations. They can help you make the best choice for your home improvement project.

Do you have a painting project in mind?

Stop in to your local GNH Lumber to learn more and to get that project started today. Get your painting project started!

Paints & Stains at GNH Lumber