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Choosing the Right Interior Paint Finishes

Tips on choosing the right paint for the job

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Bathroom white cabinets and green walls

Satin finish walls and cabinets work well in this bathroom.

Coral Nafie brown walls white crown molding

Beautifully painted walls and trim set each other off in this striking combination.

Coral Nafie Kitchen with White Cabinets

Beautifully painted white cabinets set off this kitchen.

Coral Nafie

Even after a homeowner has chosen the perfect color for a room, there's another very important decision to make. With 5 or 6 paint finishes to choose from, you should learn the benefits of each and determine the right one for your job. Should you use flat or satin and why? Browse these tips on selecting the perfect paint finishes for your interior home applications.

Matte Finish
Whether called flat finish or wall paint, this type of interior paint has a matte surface. This paint finish is usually used on interior walls. It's expecially good if you have to camouflage small wall bumps, cracks, or other imperfections, as this finish does not reflect light. While some flat paints are advertised as washable today, you may need to touch up scratches or marks by covering with a bit more paint, so be sure you keep some on hand after you've finished painting.

Flat Enamel
Flat enamel is a paint with a durable flat, matte finish. It's a good choice for powder rooms and halls, as it holds up to occasional cleaning.

Eggshell Finish
If you can picture the very low sheen of the shell of an egg, you have an idea of how an eggshell paint finish will appear. With only a slight hint of shine or gloss, it's good for walls and holds up better with cleaning than a flat finish paint.

Satin Finish
Satin finish paint has a smooth, velvety look with a bit more gloss. It is most often used for windows, doors, trim, or ceilings, but can also be used as wall paint. This is particularly suitable for kids' room walls, kitchens, or bathrooms, or in areas which get a lot of traffic. Paint with a satin finish is formulated to hold up to cleaning and light scrubbing.

Semi-Gloss
Semi-gloss paint is most often used on doors, trim, and cabinets in kitchens and bathrooms. It is easily cleaned and lays down a nice, subtle shine, without being too glitzy. Take care with pre-paint preparation work, as poorly prepared surfaces can be a bit distracting when highlighted by a semi-gloss surface.

Glossy
High gloss paints have an almost reflective quality, as their shiny finish mimics the look of enamel or plastic. Though not widely used in home interiors, it is becoming more popular for a dramatic look on cabinets, trim, and furniture in very formal and very contemporary settings. This finish will magnify any surface imperfections, so careful preparation and sanding is essential before painting with high gloss paints.

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