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10 Types Of Paint Finishes For Walls

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Are you thinking of repainting a room? Moving into a new home and wondering what paint to use on the walls? Well, look no further. We've done a bit of research to find the most commonly used paint for the interior walls of your home. In this post, we will cover the various types of paint finishes and the best places to apply them in your home.

Here are 10 of the most commonly used paint finishes:

  1. Flat
  2. Lime Washing
  3. Eggshell
  4. Satin
  5. Semi-gloss
  6. Color Washing Paint
  7. Gloss
  8. Enamel
  9. Chalk Paint
  10. Marbling Paint

Continue reading to learn more about each type of finish and where they may be best applied.

Paint tools with ladder against a newly painted light blue wall, 10 Types Of Paint Finishes For Walls

Types Of Paint Finishes For Walls

Paint cans and color swatch samples on a table

The term "paint finish" refers to the texture of the paint's surface once it dries. This is important because the type of finish used will affect the room's look and its overall appeal. Paint with a high sheen will be shinier and glossier because they reflect a lot of light. Paints with a lower sheen will be more on the matte and dull side, as they reflect very little light and are not meant to bring a lot of attention.

Things To Consider When Choosing a Paint Finish

Before choosing a paint finish for a specific room, consider the type of aesthetic that you want the room to have. Do you want the walls of the room to pop out? If so, a semi-gloss or gloss paint may work. Or would you rather that the trim boards stand out more than the wall. In this case, perhaps a satin or flat sheen will work better on the wall.

To break this down even further, here are the factors to consider before choosing a paint finish:

The size of the room

Rooms that are on the smaller side may look better with paints that have a higher sheen. This works well for them as it opens up the rooms a bit more and makes them look bigger.

The room's lighting

If the room does not have a lot of natural light or dim ceiling light, you may want to stay away from flat or satin paints. These paints can make a room with little lighting look even smaller and more closed off.

The texture of the room's walls

Another factor to consider is the texture of the walls. If the wall has a considerable amount of damage, such as cracks, bumps, or patchwork, it may be better to use matte or flat finishes to camouflage these areas.

The room's usage

Rooms that will be subject to a lot of traffic may work better with semi-gloss or gloss paint. This is beneficial from a maintenance standpoint, as these paints stand up better to dirt and scuff marks and can be cleaned with a simple wipe off.

Now, discuss the various types of finishes and where they work best.

Flat

Flat paint can be purchased online or in stores for around $15. This type of paint sheen is known for providing a uniform and relatively smooth look. Apply with brushes or rollers, depending on the area that you are painting. Flat paint is almost always used as ceiling paint because most people do not want to bring too much attention to their ceiling but rather to their living space walls.

Flat sheens don't reflect light and can help hide the imperfections on the wall's surface, such as patchwork, holes, and dents. You can also use a flat sheen in rooms with little traffic or receive a lot of natural sunlight. One of the biggest advantages of using a flat sheen is that they are fairly easy to touch up and require fewer coats of paint than semi-gloss and gloss paints.

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Lime Washing

Limewash is a very popular paint finish that creates a textured and chalky look to add more character and texture to flat walls. You can purchase this paint for about $65 a gallon, or you can make it yourself by mixing equal amounts of water and lime putty to create a thin creamy paint. You'll also hear this referred to as "whitewashing," and you can apply it to any interior wall surface as long as you prime it first.

It can also be applied to porous surfaces, including brick, stone, and plaster (yes, this finish can also be used outside surfaces). Lime washing finish is best applied using a thick paintbrush or long-nape paint roller. The most popular brands that make limewash paint include Sydney Harbor Paint Company and Romabio (which is sold at Home Depot).

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Eggshell

Eggshell paint is one of the most popular paint finishes, and it can be purchased online or in stores for around $15. It has a soft, traditional look that can work well in most rooms. Eggshell is a standard finish used for hallways, entertainment rooms, and living rooms, as it offers a cohesive and smooth transition between rooms. This type of finish is low-gloss, as it doesn't reflect a lot of light (which means it will work great in rooms that receive a lot of natural light). When compared to a flat finish, eggshell is more durable and easier to clean. It can be applied using almost any type of paintbrush or roller.

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Satin

Satin finishes seem to be the go-to finish for most consumers. It's about as expensive as flat and semi-gloss finishes and can be used on exterior and interior surfaces. Satin finishes work well in living rooms, bedrooms, and entertainment rooms. It's also great for adding a modern-day feel to kitchens and dining rooms. This finish has a medium viscosity and can be applied using both paintbrushes or rollers, depending on the room's size. Satin sheens are also are great on outdoor siding (including shutters and trim). This sheen can be applied using most paint brushes or rollers, as it goes on relatively easily.

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Semi-gloss

Semi-gloss paints can be purchased online or in stores for around $17-20. This finish is excellent for small rooms that don't receive a lot of natural light or rooms that receive a considerable amount of traffic. It gives walls a bright and shiny look and can help open up small closets and guest rooms. Semi-gloss paint should be used with thick paintbrushes or rollers, given its viscosity, and it may take a bit longer to dry than flat paint. One of the biggest benefits of semi-gloss paint is that it offers high moisture resistance and is easy to clean (it typically requires only light scrubbing). One of the biggest disadvantages of semi-gloss paint is that they tend to show surface imperfections on the walls.

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Color Washing Paint

Freshly painted green room, paint buckets and roller on the foreground

Another paint finish to consider is a color washing finish. Color washing isn't a single paint finish, but it is created using a combination of latex glaze and latex paint (usually a satin, flat, or matte sheen). This finish works great in bedrooms, living, or entertainment rooms. It offers much appeal and can create an old-world and authentic look to any room in which it's applied. Use feathery brush strokes and contrasting base colors with this finish to give your room a lot of dimensions and unique character. The application process involves using a "wet-on-wet" technique to apply the paint, usually done with small paintbrushes and cheesecloth or sheepskin.

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Gloss

You can purchase most gloss paint finishes online or in stores for around $16-$40. This sheen offers much light reflection and has the shiniest finish. Gloss sheens are often used in high traffic areas such as the baseboards, trim, moldings, or frequently occupied areas, such as bathrooms, kitchen, and hallways. This sheen cleans up really easily, as it only requires a quick wipe with a cloth or sponge to remove dirt and scuff marks.

It can be applied using rollers or brushes, depending on the surface being painted. Gloss paint typically requires more coats than flat or satin finishes, and you can expect to pay a bit more for it than you would a flat paint. Gloss paint will be thicker than flat paint and requires a finer paintbrush or roller to ensure complete coverage during its application.

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Enamel

You can typically find enamel finishes online or in local home improvement stores for around $25-45. This type of sheen is great to use in places then receive a lot of daily traffic, such as hallways, trim and baseboards, kitchens, and entertainment rooms. Like semi-gloss and gloss paints, it is effortless to clean and only requires wiping or gentle scrubbing with a sponge or cloth (and mild soap). Enamel paint can be applied using medium to thick paintbrushes and rollers and typically only requires one to two coats. Once dried, an enamel finish has a glossy look similar to semi-gloss or gloss paint, depending on the brand. It can also be applied to outside surfaces that receive a lot of wear and tear (such as siding, garden furniture, doors, and shutters).

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Chalk Paint

Chalkboard finish can be purchased online or in stores for around $30-50, or you can create this look by combining paints. Chalk paint is a thick paint that is best applied using long nape rollers or thick paintbrushes. Once dried, it has a chalky, matte appearance that can add accents to different rooms in the home, including children's rooms, entertaining rooms, and dining rooms. It can also work well on trim, windows, and wood cabinets.

Chalk paint has a bit of a different application process than latex or oil paints. It doesn't require a primer, as it has bonding agents that allow it to bond to almost any surface. However, you will need to add a wax coat after using this paint to help preserve its finish. If you were looking to create a distressed or rustic look in your home, chalk paint is worth looking at. One of the biggest advantages of chalk paint is that it doesn't require a primer, and it doesn't leave brush strokes. On the downside, it's fairly expensive compared to other types of finishes.

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Marbling Paint

Marbling paint is probably the most inexpensive finish that you can buy. It can be found online, at home improvement stores, or craft stores anywhere from $7-$17 per 6-10 ounce bottle. This type of finish can produce beautiful accents and patterns on your walls. Marble paint provides a look similar to that of real marble and has a glossy finish. It is commonly used on tabletops, bookshelves, walls, and fireplace framing and can also bring character to children's rooms, libraries, and entertainment rooms.

You can also create a marble finish using regular latex paint and a primer. To draw the marble, you will need a paintbrush with a fine edge (to make the marble "veins") and a wet sponge to blend the colors. The process for applying a marble finish includes mixing the latex paint, painting the wall or furniture, and then going back to create the veins with a fine angled-paint brush.

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Wrapping Things Up

As you can see, there are quite a few different options to choose from when it comes to paint finishes. Remember, it's best to consider the size, amount of light, and use for the room to determine which paint sheen may work best for it.

Before you go, be sure to check out our other posts:

17 Types Of Painting Rollers

How Long Does It Take To Paint A Room [By Room Size]