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What Is Satin, Gloss, Eggshell & Matt Paint - The Ultimate Guide

Finding the perfect colour you were looking for is an often endless task, but finally you have managed it! But now you have the even more daunting task of finding the right paint for the job. At Painters World we are often asked questions relating to the types of emulsion paint & their finishes. To help clarify this, we have put together this handy guide to the various popular paint finishes & what they should be used for, so you don't have to worry!

Over the years a number of finishes have been developed for various uses around the house. Firstly, we will discuss the most popular finishes there are. There are four main types of paint finishes available from all leading paint manufacturers, these are; satin, matt, silk & gloss.


1) Matt Paint

Firstly we start with what is matt paint? Matt is the paint finish with the least amount of shine, which is why it is often known as a 'flat finish'. While the finish they provide has become increasingly popular in recent years, they are the most prone finish to scuffs, especially in dark tones. This makes it the least durable option, and therefore not be the most suitable for a high-traffic areas such as hallways. A common question we get asked is 'is matt paint washable?'; to which the answer is yes to an extent! Matt paint finishes cannot be scrubbed, but some can be wiped down. This is because many leading brands have developed anti-scuff matt finishes such as Dulux, with their Diamond Matt emulsion. This particular product can be tinted to any colour you choose through our tinting service!

Where should you use a flat matt paint? Matt finishes are particularly useful for low traffic areas such as ceilings, and for covering imperfections on interior walls.

Matt paint
Photo: Dulux Trade

2) Eggshell Paint

A popular choice of finish today is eggshell. They offer slightly more sheen than a flat matt paint, but still offer a 'flatter' finish than other options, similar to the shell of an egg that the finish was named after! Due to this lack of sheen, they can still cover imperfections on the wall & can be more durable than matt finishes.

Where should you use an eggshell paint? Eggshell paints are ideal for low to medium traffic rooms, such as living rooms. Eggshell paint is generally used on walls, however it can still be used on trim such as skirting boards, especially with interiors that want a modern look!

Eggshell Finish paint
Picture: Crown Paint

3) Satin Paint

Satin finishes are the next level up in terms of sheen, with the higher reflectiveness and durability that comes with this. Depending on the lighting in the room, a satin finish can appear both glossy and flat. Satin paint can be easily cleaned, although it is recommended not to scrub thoroughly as this will remove some of the sheen from the wall. Furthermore, unlike the 'flatter' forms of paint such as a matt finish, satin paint will not cover blemishes or imperfections on the wall.

Where should you use a satin paint? Due to the added durability and sheen, satin is a popular choice for woodwork & metal. Paint manufacturers have developed a mid-sheen finish called 'silk' that offers a similar sheen level to satin, but is designed for use on interior walls, especially in rooms that require more durability such as hallways and high condensation rooms such as bathrooms.

Satin finish
Picture: Marie Flanigan Interiors

4) Gloss Paint

Gloss paint is a highly reflective and washable finish that provides a mirrored effect on interior surfaces. Due to the high level of durability & which allows it to be cleaned thoroughly, it is traditionally used on trim. In modern home decor, it is often used to enhance the light in a room, whether through clean & sharp trim or through a gloss accent wall that can bring a huge level of energy to a room. Be careful though, the clean & modern look that is achieved with a gloss finish will not be effective unless applied to smooth surfaces. Any bumps or holes will be highlighted by the light!

Where should you use a gloss paint? Gloss is perfect for wooden trim around the house & for bathrooms & kitchens, where surfaces need to be wiped down regularly.

Gloss finish paint
Photo: HGTV

We hope this has answered any questions you may have had regarding the different types of paint finishes. At Painters World we have a wide range of paints available, so no matter the job, we've got the right tools for you!

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