What’s The Best Paint Finish For An Accent Wall?

The accent wall is a tasteful way of expressing yourself in your space by giving your room a pop of color and acting as a focal point. Choosing a color is important, but you should also consider what type of paint finish you want. To help you decide on the right paint finish for your room, we've done some research, and here's what we found.

The accent wall's paint finish depends on the type of room it is in and the type of mood you are setting. Generally, a paint finish with minimal sheen is best for an accent wall in a formal space like the dining area. For areas that are not as formal, like the bathroom, a shinier paint finish is the way to go. Here are some recommended paint finishes you can go with for your accent wall:

  • Flat
  • Eggshell
  • Satin
  • Semi-gloss

The look of your accent wall's color can change depending on what kind of finish you go with, since it be as matte or shiny as you want. However, you should also factor in durability and function for each room. Read on as we guide you through what kind of paint your accent wall can have.

A canary yellow color accent in simple open living room interior with gray couch, What's The Best Paint Finish For An Accent Wall?

Paint Finish And Your Room's Functionality

There are a variety of paint finishes for walls that you can use, but in essence, the finish will determine the wall's sheen. Each type of paint finish can make a room more formal or cozy, but you have to think of the room's look and feel as well. Matching the paint finish to the room's function is the best approach.

An elegant navy blue sofa in the middle of a bright living room interior


This kind of paint finish will give your wall's color a minimal sheen from any light source, creating an elegant look. Flat paint finish requires fewer coats or applications, and it is easier to do touch-ups on.

While the lack of sheen enables it to conceal any imperfections that your accent wall may have, walls with flat paint finishes are also the hardest to clean. You will want to use this type of paint finish on low-traffic, formal areas like the dining room or your home office.

Check out this flat paint finish on Amazon.


This is one of the more popular choices for wall paint finishes. Just as the name suggests, this paint finish makes the paint look like an eggshell—smooth with a slight sheen to it—which can give the accent wall a classy look.

Apart from covering up imperfections, it's also more durable than the flat paint finish, making it perfect for mid-traffic areas like the living room or the hallways. The eggshell finish is also easier to clean and resistant to stains and scruffs.


Considered the most versatile of available paint finishes, satin paint finish creates a soft, pearly sheen for an accent wall. Applying it may prove to be a challenge since it can reveal your brushstrokes and other imperfections, but it is also among the easiest to clean.

Satin paint finish is also widely used due to its durability against fading and moisture. Because of that, it is best to apply this finish on accent walls located in busy areas like the entertainment room or the kitchen.

Here's a satin paint finish available on Amazon.


Compared to satin paint finish, semi-gloss has a more reflective sheen. This gives off a sleek and bright appearance to any accent wall you have, making white walls even whiter compared to when other paint finishes are applied.

While it does emphasize a wall's color, it also draws attention to imperfections more than other paint finishes. Semi-gloss is highly resistant to moisture, easy to clean, and durable. Because of that, using it on accent walls in bathrooms, laundry rooms, or other high-traffic rooms is recommended.

Try out this semi-gloss paint finish on Amazon.

Which wall should be the accent wall?

A modern black and white bedroom with an illuminated horizontal poster on the wall by the door

Now that you know the type of finish you should put in each room when painting an accent wall, you might be wondering what wall you should pick as an accent wall. The accent wall should be the wall your eye is naturally drawn to.

Not all rooms will have a natural focal point, but creating that area with an accent wall is a great way to do it. Here are a few tips on how to choose the accent wall for your room:

Look For The Focal Points

As we have discussed, the accent wall is where your eyes are most drawn to. Most people think that this is the middle of the room, but that isn't always the case. Built-in furniture or other architectural designs can play into this as well.

An example of this would be a fireplace in the living room or the positioning of the headboard in the bedroom. These can act as clues to point you towards where the accent wall should be.

Notice The Details

Green and grey accents in contemporary living room interior

In case your room doesn't have a focal point, you can decide on what wall should be the accent wall. To do that, start looking around for other details around each of the walls of your room.

Make sure that the wall you choose is symmetrical, free from other architectural designs like a window or door, and uncluttered by other furniture. These details may clash with the wall or can distract your eyes from the other details in the room instead of accentuating them.

Think Of Functionality

Accent walls can also be placed as a cue for areas around a room, especially for multifunctional areas. Rooms such as a living room that doubles as a dining area can have its accent color in the space of the room where the dining area would be. This would also help separate the areas accordingly.

Should an accent wall be lighter or darker?

Modern bright flat interior design with yellow accents

Accent walls not only function as a way to break the possible monotony of a room but also to change how you perceive and experience the room. Having an accent wall can change your perception of the size of the room, depending on your choice of color and where you place it. If colored right, the accent wall can make a long room shorter or a narrow room wider.

Depending on how you want your room to feel, you can play around with both light and dark colors to accentuate it according to your needs. A good rule to follow is that the shade of the accent wall should be at least two shades lighter or darker than the colors of the rest of the walls.

Darker Accents

Yellow decor and accents in modern room interior for teenager

When in doubt, having a darker color for your accent wall is the way to go to make the space more relaxed. Having accent walls with a darker hue can make a space look more intimate than it seems.

This would work for sprawling rooms or spaces that need to look cozier, such as the bedroom. Apart from that, having a dark accent wall can give depth to a room.

Lighter Accents

If you have a small space and you want to make it bigger, having an accent wall that's a few shades lighter than the rest of the walls will help. Using lighter accent colors will make your room seem brighter and bigger.

Consider coloring your accent wall the same color as your ceiling. Both areas should have a lighter color than the other walls to give off the illusion of height. For a room that has an irregular shape, having a neutral or light accent wall would make the room look balanced.

Final Thoughts

Having an accent wall can help jazz up a room, but it's also important to think about its paint finish to maximize its potential. You can use flat, eggshell, satin, or semi-gloss, in accordance with how formal or not-so-formal your room and its function are. The bottom line is that the more formal a room is, the less sheen the paint finish should have.

Before diving into painting your accent wall, remember that your home has different areas, with each having a possible accent wall. Identify the focal point, details, and functionality of your rooms. After that, you can decide on whether a dark or light color would work best.

Before you go, check our other articles on paint finishes:

What Paint Finish Is Best For Garage Doors?

What’s The Best Paint Finish For Wall Paneling?

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