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Which Painting Finish is Best?

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Interior paints come in a variety of finishes, and each painting finish brings with it its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Dull finishes, in general, work better for covering up imperfections on the painted surface, but they are less durable and more difficult to clean. Shiny finishes, on the other hand, are durable and easy to clean, but will actually accentuate any preexisting flaws on the painted surface.

The following guide will help you select the painting finish that will best suit your interior painting needs.

Matte Painting Finish

A matte finish has no shine because it absorbs light rather than reflecting it. This makes it ideal for painting over bumpy walls or for covering up cracks or other flaws in the drywall and plaster. However, matte paint isn't very durable and is much easier to scratch than paints with a glossier finish. In addition, the matte painting finish is difficult to clean as wiping it down will often end up removing the paint itself. Matte paint works well on ceilings and in low traffic rooms that will require less frequent cleaning. If you use a matte painting finish, be sure to keep an extra pint on hand for the occasional touch up.

Flat Enamel Painting Finish

Like the matte finish, the flat enamel painting finish absorbs light and has no shine. However, it is slightly more rub resistant than the matte finish, which allows it to stand up to occasional cleaning. While not durable enough to withstand the traffic of kitchens or bathrooms, the flat enamel painting finish works well on interior walls in low traffic areas.

Eggshell Painting Finish

The eggshell finish reflects a tiny amount of light, giving it a slight shine (much like the outer surface of an eggshell). The eggshell painting finish will stand up to occasional cleaning, but is not nearly as durable as the shinier finishes. It's also less effective at hiding blemishes than matte or flat enamel finishes.

Satin Painting Finish

Satin finishes are moderately shiny, with a rich texture that will endure repeated cleaning. The satin painting finish is even less effective at concealing surface flaws than the eggshell finish, but its durability makes it ideal for children's rooms, bathrooms, and kitchens.

Glossy Painting Finish

The high-gloss and semi-gloss painting finishes are about as shiny and durable as they come. The glossy painting finish reflects more light than any other finish, giving it a bright shine. It can be washed as often as necessary, and is highly resistant to scratching and other types of marring. This type of painting finish isn't usually used on walls, but is a popular choice for trim, molding, and cabinets.

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