Which Paint Type Is Right for You?

Use this crib sheet to pick the best paint finish for your needs.

  • Jennifer Jafarzadeh

Flat/Matte

Where to use: Best choice for walls with many imperfections. Use on ceilings and bedroom, dining-room, and living-room walls. Do not use in the kitchen or bathrooms.

Touch-ups and scrubbability: Flat or matte finishes are easy to touch up but hard to clean. Premium flat paint, such as Benjamin Moore Regal Matte Finish or California Paints Super-Scrub Matte Finish, has better washability.

Eggshell

Where to use: This low-sheen finish is a great choice for living-room or bedroom walls. Do not use in high-traffic areas, like hallways, because the delicate finish mars easily.

Touch-ups and scrubbability: Eggshell has a washable finish that can be easily touched up.

Satin

Where to use: With a silky, pearl-like sheen, it's a good choice for woodwork as well as walls in the family room, children's rooms, laundry room, kitchen, and bathrooms.

Touch-ups and scrubbability: Satin has a warm finish that's scrubbable. More difficult to touch up because any difference in sheen will be apparent.

Semigloss

Where to use: Semigloss is a popular choice for trim and moldings, and is also ideal for kitchen and bathroom walls because it is more resistant to humidity and withstands stains, chipping, and scuffing.

Touch-ups and scrubbability: Durable and easy to clean, it's the most scrubbable sheen for walls. However, semigloss is more difficult to touch up because the difference in sheen may show up more easily.

Gloss

Where to use: Gloss is rarely used on walls because it shows imperfections like a mirror does. It is typically used on woodwork, trim, moldings, and works well only for surfaces that are truly smooth.

Touch-ups and scrubbability: It's the most durable finish and the easiest to clean, yet is the most difficult to touch up because the difference in sheen may show up more easily.