“Help! I'm redecorating my living room, but I'm confused all the different paint types and finishes. What finish should I use on which surfaces?”
Don’t know your eggshell from your soft sheen?
Choosing the right paint colour when you refresh your walls is key to creating the look you want, but don’t underestimate the importance of getting the finish just right. One wrong turn can completely alter the look and feel of your space.
Thankfully, a little knowledge goes a long way, so check out our handy guide before you buy your paint to get perfect results every time.
1. Matt / flat matt emulsion
Matt and flat matt emulsion is smooth and velvety making it suitable for most interior walls. Matt emulsion’s smooth consistency is great for disguising wall imperfections, while flat matt is even more velvety and gives a slightly chalky finish - ideal for contemporary schemes.
2. Silk Finish
Silk has the glossiest sheen of all wall paints and can be easily wiped clean, making it a practical choice for high-traffic areas such as kitchens and hallways. Be careful though – lumps and bumps on your wall will be easily visible with this finish, so be sure your surface is completely smooth before application. It can also be used to highlight traditional features, like cornicing and skirting boards.
3. Soft sheen
Not as shiny as silk paint, soft sheen is a good compromise between matt and silk. Ideal for interior walls and ceilings, it provides good coverage, opacity and a gentle sheen.
4. Water-based eggshell finish
This low-sheen paint option is not only durable, it’s also water-resistant, making it the perfect choice for kitchen and bathroom walls, as well as woodwork. Eggshell should only be used on wood and metal surfaces indoors. Its durability makes it particularly good for surfaces that see a lot of wear and tear, such as window frames and ledges.
5. Satinwood finish
Shiner than eggshell, satinwood is a good option when you want a higher sheen finish, and is great for covering up imperfections. As with eggshell, satin paint should only be used on wood and metal surfaces indoors.
6. Gloss finish
Best for internal and external wood, gloss comes in a mid-sheen and a high-sheen finish, often called high gloss. Both will give a mirror-like finish to wood surfaces and can be used indoor and out to highlight any design features. This paint is also wipeable. Choose water-based gloss paints for indoor projects and use oil-based for outdoor paint jobs.
For a striking, offbeat look create a striped feature wall by using alternate matt and silk finish paints. For a subtle effect you can even use the same colour but in different finishes.