You did it — after countless hours of staring at paint swatches and testing tiny squares on your walls, you nailed down the paint colors you want in your home. Now your decision-making is done, right? Not just yet, you paint-happy homeowner.
Before you can actually start coating your walls in whatever dreamy colors you chose, you need to select the appropriate paint finish or sheen for the room (or rooms) you are painting. This is the key to longevity and durability, so you’ll want to be prepared before you purchase your paint.
Here’s a general breakdown of the main rooms in your home and which paint finishes are ideal for those areas.
1. The kitchen
As a general rule of thumb, the higher the shine in a paint, the more durable it is. In a highly used area like the kitchen, where you’ll be dealing with routine splashes and splatters from food, beverages and grease, you want a paint that is super durable and easy to clean, which means high gloss is the way to go. The caveat is that high-gloss paint highlights imperfections, so if you have an older home with charmingly flawed walls, you may prefer the look and relatively low maintenance of semigloss.
While high gloss will also work for bathrooms, where easy cleaning is similarly ideal, you may find the look a bit too shiny — especially in smaller spaces such as powder rooms. Plus, if the bathroom is rarely used, you might not even need the extreme durability of high gloss. In this case, semigloss is your best bet. It will still be easy to clean and, like high gloss, still protects against moisture and drips.
This is a multipronged answer depending entirely on who will be spending the most time in your home’s bedrooms. For the master bedroom, where sticky little fingers won’t be trailing along walls and generally putting them through the wringer, a flat or matte finish will offer superior coverage and therefore save you money by minimizing required coats. Plus, because they soak up light as opposed to reflecting it, these finishes are extremely forgiving of any imperfections in walls. In kids’ rooms, you’re absolutely going to want something a little more durable (aka immune to washable markers and yogurt-coated fingerprints) — think satin or semi-gloss.
4. The family room
As the name obviously implies, you likely spend a lot of time with your family in this room. Since this could very well include children or grandchildren, you still need to make durability a priority. However, because this is a room you’ll be entertaining in quite often, you undoubtedly also want to prioritize aesthetics. The solution? A satin finish, which boasts a beautiful luster but is still easy to clean. Word to the wise, though: Satin finishes are notoriously unforgiving of application flaws such as brushstrokes.
5. The dining room and/or living room
If you have an open concept floor plan, your dining room and living room share the same space and, accordingly, paint too. Even if that isn’t the case, though, dining rooms and living rooms typically call for the same finish: eggshell, which falls somewhere on the sheen spectrum between satin and flat. It is fantastic for camouflaging imperfections inherent to your walls, but alternately, it also tends to show any scuffs. If your living room and family room are one and the same, you should err to the side of caution and go with a more high traffic-friendly finish like satin.
More: What your accent wall says about you
6. The home office
What finish you use in your home office is a matter of use, yes, but also of personal preference. Since it is presumably a space in which children will not be playing, you could get away with using a flat or matte. This will save you a few bucks, since the high pigmentation requires fewer coats. But if you aren’t the gentlest of souls when it comes to rifling through files or bumping the wall with the back of your office chair, you may want to opt for eggshell, which is slightly more durable.
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