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types of house paint

What are The Different Types of Paint Finishes

The process of painting in and of itself can be one of the most taxing things about any form of home improvement. It would be nice if the only thing you needed to know when selecting paint is the color. Unfortunately, that is not the case.

Indeed, knowing what kinds of paint finishes exist out there can be overwhelming, and getting the information about these finishes can be frustrating. There are dozens of paint finishes in existence, but only a select few of these are absolutely necessary when it comes to home improvement.

This is not meant to take away from the other types of paint finishes that exist, but the paint finishes that we will cover here are among the most common, familiar, and necessary. There is no need to waste your energy on choosing among so many types of paint finishes in the name of home improvement, and you will see that below as we explore the most common types of paint finishes.

Types of Paint Finishes: Difference Between Solids, Shine, and Sheen

Before learning about the different types of paint finishes, it is useful to understand what paint finish does after it is applied. This is important as different finishes have different effects. This section will be about these effects.

The paint finish has three distinct lasting effects that take place after a coat is applied. A solid effect dries the paint to the point where it completely solidifies. This is very useful for low traffic areas, as you will not need to clean it too much.

If you want the walls you paint to provide a slight shine, you’ll want to apply paint with a sheen. There are different degrees of sheens, from low to flat to soft. What kind of sheen you want will depend on the surface that you want to paint.

And then there are shiny effects. Shiny effects will provide a distinct gloss to paints, and because they are easy to clean, you’ll want a shiny paint effect for high-traffic areas. Now that you know about these effects, it is now time to explore some of the more popular and common paint finishes. Keep in mind that these are finishes, not colors. Finishes and effects are added to already existing colors.


A flat finish is a little more than it describes. Being completely solid in its effect, it provides no sheen at all, providing a dry and unremarkable finish. Such a finish does have its place, however. A flat paint finish can hide wall imperfections very well, and it is pretty easy to apply because of how quickly it dries.

This makes flat finishes ideal for a room that does not encounter a lot of traffic. While it does require a lot of touching up, touching up is easy and that is why flat finishes are ideal for walls that do not encounter a lot of traffic.


This finish is name because when it dries, the texture resembles that of an eggshell, in that it is smooth but not completely shiny or dry. Eggshell paint finish does have a sheen, but it is not as pronounced as finishes with a stronger sheen. This makes it one of the most common paint finishes in existence.

Another reason why eggshell paint finish is so popular is that it is so user-friendly and versatile. It is more washable than a flat sheen finish, does not need to be retouch as much, and is also easy to apply.


While eggshell and flat paint finishes can only really be used inside, the satin paint finish can be used outside as well. This is possible because the satin finish has a soft sheen that will reflect light. This will make any wall that is painted outside shine a lot brighter than it would any other paint.

The reason why satin paint finish can be used indoors and outdoors is because when it is applied on indoor walls, it has a similar effect that eggshell paint finish has. Although it does not act exactly like an eggshell paint finish, it is a suitable replacement in a pinch.


Now we’re getting to the paint finishes that are specifically design for a shiny finish that the other finishes don’t provide.

Semi-gloss paint finish provides a shine that is a lot more pronounced than satin but does not go overboard on the shine.

Something that many do not know about semi-gloss paint finish is that it is easy to clean. Because it is so easy to clean, it is ideal for walls of larger structures. In fact, semi-gloss paint finish is the finish of choice when hospitals need to paint their walls.

If places as large as hospitals use semi-gloss finish for their walls, it will work wonders on the walls of your home. This is because it is easy to clean off.


Gloss provides the shiniest finish of all of the paint finishes covered. Like with semi-gloss, the intense sheen makes it very easy to clean.

The shine gloss paint finish gives off is very intense, much more so than semi-gloss. Although the intense shine of the finish does not reflect light the way the satin finish does, it is still very nice for the outside walls of any building.

Gloss finish is even easier to clean than semi-gloss finish, making it ideal for surfaces that need to be clean constantly. Cleaning a wall with a gloss finish is often just as easy as cleaning any kind of surface.

You won’t need to worry about any specialized cleaners, either; most of the time, water combined with an all-purpose cleaner and a scrubbing brush will be all you need to clean walls with gloss paint finish. Knowing which kind of paint finishes are optimal for what kinds of walls will make the process of painting a home or any kind of building much easier.

Conclusion: Paint Finishes Types

You’ll have a much easier time painting when you are well informed, and knowing the differences between these paint finishes will give you all the information you need to make sure that you are selecting the right paint finish for the right wall.