When you’re planning an interior paint project, the paint color you settle on is of huge importance. But it’s not the only factor you need to take into account.

The kind of paint finish you use will have a huge impact on the final results, as well as its long-term practicality. Here’s what you need to know about the different paint gloss levels and what they’re good for.

1) High Gloss

The shiniest and most durable domestic paint finish of all, high gloss paint is great for areas that get a lot of contact, wear, and tear. Use it on doors, molding, and windowsills, or on kitchen cabinets where its stain resistance and scrubbable, easy cleaning will be invaluable. However, high gloss isn’t best used on surfaces such as old and cracked window frames, as the shine can draw attention to any imperfections that a duller finish could mask.

2) Gloss

Gloss paint is one step down on the shininess scale from high gloss, and shares the same advantages of durability and easy cleaning. However, its slightly lower sheen means it’s a little more forgiving of surface fingerprints and other light grime than the higher gloss type.

3) Semi-Gloss

With a more subtle shine but nearly all the durability, semi-gloss paints are good for covering large areas in heavily used rooms like kitchens or bathrooms. The surface can be scrubbed clean, making it an ideal finish for cabinets, doors and frames, moldings, shutters, and so on.

4) Velvet or Satin

Also known as a satin finish, velvet paint has a low luster that’s easy on the eye without being too dramatic, making it an ideal background paint for busy areas such as family rooms, hallways, and stairwells. Velvet paints are washable, although heavy scrubbing may not be advisable over the long term.

Pro Tip: Velvet, Satin or Eggshell cleans up better than a flat finish, but probably not as well as you would want in a kitchen or bathroom.

5) Eggshell

Eggshell is usually a decorative finish with little or no shine, although some brands add more gloss than others. Eggshell is good for covering larger areas with an unobtrusive effect; although as it’s only a medium on the durability scale, it’s perhaps best to avoid using it in a children’s room, for example.

6) Flat or Matte

As the name suggests, flat or matte paint has no shine at all, and darker shades can even seem to soak up ambient light. This makes it a great option for covering walls or other surfaces with minor defects, which will be hidden rather than accentuated. It also has the advantage of creating the densest pigment coverage, making it an economical choice needing fewer coats.

Pro Tip: If you have kids, choose carefully. The only way to get rid of fingerprints and scribbles on a flat-finish wall is to paint over them.

A good-quality paint will give plenty of service before it needs a fresh coat, so it’s important to choose wisely. Pay as much attention to the finish as to the color, and you’ll enjoy the results for years to come.

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