The Ultimate Quick Guide to House Paint Color Finishes

Picking the perfect color is important but there is more to it than just color…

If you’ve ever shopped for house paint, you’ve probably seen something on the paint container called a finish: flat, high gloss, satin, or semi- gloss. What do these words mean and how do they affect the paint you need for your home? Here’s a quick guide to house paint color finishes that’ll help you easily navigate the paint aisle like a Jacksonville, Florida paint contractor!

What Does House Paint Color Finish Mean?

There are generally four types of paint finish or sheen. Each finish has its own characteristic and adds a unique element to your paint. Here is a simple chart explaining the type of finish, its benefits and disadvantages, and where you should use it in your home.

Guide to House Paint Color Finishes




Where to Use Finish


Has highest level of sheen or shine

Bounces the most light off a surface; shows all imperfections of the surface; most durable and easy to clean

Furniture and appliances for a lacquered look

Semi- Gloss

Has a bit less gloss than high-gloss

Easy to clean, durable

Interior trim and doors, kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors; exterior front door, trim and shutters

Satin/ Eggshell

A low amount of sheen

Makes paint appear warmer; gives color greater depth than the glossier finishes; resists stains better; makes the room brighter

Bathroom, kitchen, children’s rooms, mudroom, laundry room, hallways, family room; kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors; exterior house body


Has no sheen

Shows marks and fingerprints; not as easy to clean; allows the color to be the main focus

Ceilings; dining room; formal living room; master and guest bedrooms; exterior house body

What to Consider When Selecting House Paint Color Finishes

Most of our customers use one finish throughout the interior of their home for a consistent look. However, you can select a different finish for certain rooms, too. A general rule of thumb choosing paint finishes is the higher the gloss, the higher the shine and durability. When considering what paint finish to use, envision the look and feel you desire for the room. If you want the color to stand out, consider a flat paint. It won’t add any additional depth to the room or any additional light but will enable the color to be the main focus. The downside of using a flat paint is less durability. Stains will be harder to clean and the texture of the painted surface may appear more porous.

Another thing to consider is the activity level that will take place in the room. For rooms with a high level of traffic, like a mud room, bathroom, or child’s room, consider a satin sheen finish because of its durability and ease of cleaning. But remember, when using a paint with a gloss level, be it high, semi or satin, it will draw attention to imperfections in the painted surface.

For rooms in which you plan to use a darker paint color, use paint with a lower gloss level like a satin sheen. Darker paints tend to add additional sheen to any gloss level.

The Best Jacksonville FL Painting Contractors

We hope you found this guide to house paint color finishes helpful. For additional information, check out Sherwin-William’s detailed account of finishes. Don’t let your paint color “finish” you! If you are in doubt about paint finish or color for your home, give your Jacksonville Painters, A New Leaf 1-888-Painting a call at 904-330-0084. As a full service painting company in Jacksonville, Florida, we offer superior painting, carpentry, and color consulting services. Some of the areas we serve are Julington Creek, Atlantic Beach, Neptune Beach, St. Augustine, Orange Park, Fleming Island, as well as Amelia Island and Fernandina Beach.

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