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PAINT FINISHES EXPLAINED: low-gloss paint and when to use it

Ever wonder what matte paint can be used for or what does "eggshell finish" stand for?

In the Part 2 of this blogpost series we explain the difference between low-gloss paint finishes and talk about their best uses:

Photo by Lisa Rubenstein


Satin paint has a very sophisticated look that is often compared to velvet because of it's subtle and elegant sheen. With 25-35% gloss, this paint finish is very durable and easy to clean, so can be used in high-traffic areas. Family rooms walls, walls in the entry way, and practically any wall in your house will look great when painted in satin finish.

It is important to keep in mind that wall imperfections and application flaws like brush or roller strokes will be quite visible so quality wall prepping and painting is a must.

Photo by Studio Ectypos


Eggshell (10-25% gloss) is an almost flat or matte finish with just a touch of luster. Almost like an egg. This finish is less durable then satin, hides some wall imperfections and is suitable for areas with little traffic. It can make a nice choice for walls in dining and living rooms. However, we would not recommend using it for millwork as it would be hard to keep clean.

Photo by CWB Architects


This is the paint finish with the least sheen or shine (0-10% gloss). It can only tolerate a very light, infrequent cleaning, but can make a dramatic statement in your space. Deep and bold luxurious looking matte paint on the wall can be a great choice: not only will it add drama but it will also hide well all wall imperfections.

Major downside of this finish is it's low durability: it is very hard to clean and will show all fingerprints. Ceiling, formal dining room, living room, library, master bedroom and accent wall in any other low-traffic area are great candidates for this type of paint finish.

Photo by Tamara Magel Studio

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