Interior Decorating: Understanding Paint Finishes

Once you've selected your colors for your room makeover you think you're past the decision portion of your interior decorating project, right? Wrong. There are a number of paint finishes you can choose from and each serves a different purpose.

So put the paint brush down and let's brush up on the most common interior paint finishes:

Flat Finish. Flat (or matte) finishes reflect the least amount of light and are a good choice for walls with imperfections – such as cracks, rough patches and dings – that need to be hidden. While some flat finishes claim to be washable, they will not hold up to hard or regular scrubbings.

Flat Enamel. Just as they sound, flat enamels have a hard, matte finish, which makes them an excellent candidate for areas that will require some regular cleaning, including guest bathrooms. It can withstand better cleaning than flat finishes, but still will not hold up as well as an eggshell or satin finish.

Eggshell Finish. By far the most popular choice for interior walls, eggshell finishes have a slight sheen and are more durable than flat or flat enamel finishes. This is an excellent option if your walls are in good condition.

Satin Finish. This finish can be used for a number of purposes – for door, wall and window trim as well as for children's rooms, bathrooms and kitchen walls. Satin finishes have a smooth finish that is specially-designed to withstand regular washing.

Semi-gloss Finish. A popular pick when paint trim around walls, doors and windows, semi-gloss finishes can also be used on kitchen and bathroom cabinets. Just be sure that your surface is properly prepared before painting since the finish's low sheen reflects light that draws attention to irregularities in the underlying surface. Semi-gloss' are very durable and clean up nicely.

Glossy Finish. Known for its highly-reflective qualities, gloss finishes are not a typical choice for interiors. They are more frequently used to paint furniture and cabinets. However, if you want to create a very dramatic modern or formal affect, this may be the choice for you.