Gloss, satin, flat, eggshell; with so many different types of paints to choose from, choosing the right finish for you upcoming paint project can be difficult. Planning ahead and proper prep can go a long way, but once the prep work is done and the room’s colour palette is selected, it’s time to determine which finish will compliment and accentuate the area best.

First and foremost, you should apply a primer or base coat to ensure you get the best effect from any finish. To build up opacity between coats it’s also recommended you use a pale or dark first coat. Pale “first coat” should be used when applying light colors, a dark “first coat” should be applied when using earthy or textured final coats to add depth and richness the finished product.

The Four Most Common Paint Types


Flat paint is usually latex-based and is considered the most versatile and forgiving. These are most commonly used on ceilings and areas where reflections from windows and doors want to be kept to a minimum. For smaller rooms, flats can add depth and allow the room to appear larger. It can also help to hide minor imperfections such as uneven sheetrock joints. Flat finishes are also known for helping the room cope with excessive moisture, making them the perfect choice for bathrooms.


Eggshell paint is known for its durability and versatile use. Be aware that sheens of eggshell can vary so when applying several coats; make sure that the amount of sheen is identical from can to can. Most often, eggshell is used on wood surfaces and is a formidable alternative to semi-gloss paint finishes. An eggshell finish holds up exceptionally well to frequent cleaning; therefore, it’s a perfect choice for kitchens and other high traffic areas.


Gloss is also considered very durable and can be used on wood or metal surfaces. Gloss can help accentuate accent walls in bedroom and living rooms since its reflective quality commands attention. It is important to note that though this finish is high wearing, light gloss finish paints can yellow over time. This paint should not be used on walls which have imperfections since the reflective sheen will make these areas more noticeable.


The compositions of satin finishes are similar to that of gloss, yet they are more dulled in appearance making them more versatile. Satin finish is an ideal choice for a more subtle approach to accent walls. Since it is available in both latex-based and solvent-based composition, satin can be applied successfully to metal and wood and will work well for interior and exterior projects.

Speciality Paints

Bear in mind, these finishes are usually available in specialty paints. For instance, in areas that are high moisture, such as bathrooms or kitchens, certain additives can be added to these finishes to prevent mold, peeling, and excessive moisture buildup. Flats are usually an excellent choice for these areas of the home due to their natural ability to resist mould and fungal growth.

When choosing your finishes, be aware of the location of windows and light fixtures, the humidity of the room, and the amount of traffic through the area on a daily basis. This can help you choose the right paint finish for each room as well as help you determine the best areas for accent walls.