The choice of paint color can be a daunting task, but deciding on the right paint finish may be even more important. Different sheen levels reflect light differently and can affect how durable your walls are.

Satin paint, which has a soft luster and is easier to clean than flat paint, is a popular option for kitchens and bathrooms.


Painting the ceiling is a great way to brighten up an entire room, but selecting the right finish can be tricky. Most professionals recommend using a flat paint to provide an acoustical ceiling with a non-reflective surface that hides texture and flaws.

If you’re going for a sleek look, opt for high-gloss paint. Its hardy, moisture-resistant surface stands up to the rigors of everyday use and is easy to clean, but be wary of overusing this sheen. It can call attention to scratches and stains.

If you’re using a matte sheen, it’s easier to touch up than other types of sheens but won’t hide texture or blemishes on your ceiling. You might want to consider purchasing a store-bought water-based textured paint that adds a little sheen and camouflages imperfections.


Bathrooms are hotbeds for moisture, so you want paint that resists mold and mildew. Shinier finishes make cleaning walls and trim much easier, so opt for semi-gloss or gloss. However, gloss reflects light and can show wall imperfections, so you may need to apply more coats than satin or eggshell would.

If you’re on a tight budget, consider choosing a low-sheen satin or eggshell that’s washable. Otherwise, choose a high-quality bathroom-specific paint with additives that actively ward off mold and mildew. You can find these types of paint at home improvement stores and online, such as Benjamin Moore’s Aura Bath and Spa Matte Finish. They also come in a variety of colors and can be used on walls or woodwork. These paints are also typically low-VOC.

Kids’ Rooms

Kids’ rooms demand both durability and creativity. From crayon marks and sticky fingerprints to ripped posters, shoes in the doorway, and other kid-related mishaps, it’s important that your paint can stand up to wear and tear while remaining safe for your kids.

Water-based paints are a good choice for kids’ rooms because of their low odor and quick drying time. They’re also non-toxic and contain low or zero VOCs, making them a safer option for children than oil-based paints.

For walls, opt for eggshell or satin – these finishes resist scuffing better than matte paint. High-gloss paints are a great option for trim, doors, and baseboards because they are easy to wipe clean. Another fun alternative is a chalkboard or magnetic paint. These paints transform walls into a canvas and allow kids to draw, write, and express themselves freely.


The kitchen is a high-traffic area where major spills, splatters and moisture are common. Choose a durable, mold-resistant paint finish for your walls and cabinets. Satin and eggshell offer a more natural sheen, which is easier to clean than flat or matte finishes. However, they may show wall texture and application flaws more than a glossy paint.

Semi-gloss offers a slight shine that is easy to wipe down and holds up to mildew, water and other kitchen challenges. It’s also available in a glossier option that stands up to stains and is especially durable for doors, trim and cabinetry. Ask a professional for details about what sheen is best for your specific needs. Their expert knowledge can help you choose a paint finish that will stand up to heavy use over time.

Living Rooms

Living rooms are a common gathering space, so they can take a beating when it comes to furniture scratches and stains. To help them stand up to everyday use, a semi-gloss sheen can be an ideal choice.

This durable paint finish is also ideal for doors and trim because it’s easy to clean. It also shows less brush strokes than matte and satin paint finishes, which helps hide imperfections.

Flat and matte paint sheens are the least durable, but they offer high-pigment coverage and are good for hiding wall flaws. Portola’s eggshell finish has a low sheen reminiscent of matte, but is more durable and easier to clean than a traditional flat paint. This type of sheen can work well for family and dining rooms, as it reflects soft light and brings out colors nicely without looking too glossy.

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