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All the paint finishes explained

Image showing hall paint finishes from @bless_this_acid_house

All the paint finishes explained

If you need of a change of surroundings (and who doesn’t at the moment), why not add a splash of paint to your walls? It’s the quickest way to transform the look and feel of any room. But before you get online to order samples, remember that there are a number of different paint finishes to choose from and each finish has a different aesthetic quality. If you don’t know your matt from your eggshell or your silk from your satin, keep reading! And don’t forget, you can mix and match paint finishes to create impact and texture within your scheme.


Matt paint is a good all-rounder suitable for walls, ceilings and woodwork. As its name suggests, matt paint creates a flat finish with a low sheen that doesn’t reflect much light. This makes it ideal for covering up any imperfections. Often described as less durable than glossier paints (therefore better suited to low-traffic areas of the home), tougher matt paints are widely available, so shop around for a hard wearing, wipeable finish.


The clue to the finish eggshell creates is in its name, so expect a soft, subtle sheen that delivers a durable, easy-clean final result. Often used on woodwork, it is also a safe bet for walls.


Producing a high-shine finish, gloss is light reflective, durable and easy to clean. However, it can look a little overpowering over large surfaces, so consider using it conservatively (think skirting boards and window frames). Design tip: whatever surface you decide to gloss, take time to prepare it properly prior to painting. Gloss produces a high sheen that reflects lots of light and consequently highlights every imperfection – very annoying if you’re a perfectionist like me!


Silk is a mid-sheen finish with a slightly polished surface that reflects a small amount of light. It’s hard wearing and a breeze to clean, so it’s suitable for busy areas of the home such as your kids’ bedrooms.


Satin is another mid-sheen finish, which means it has a slight shine and can be cleaned with just a quick wipe. Satin is often used on woodwork such as skirting boards, window frames and doors.

Featured image: Stuart Eminson of @bless_this_acid_house has painted his hallway head to toe in the prettiest of pinks. He’s added neon accents to take the edge off the sweetness.

Want more? Don’t miss our guide to specialist paints for kitchens and bathrooms.