Paint Finish Buying Guide | Paint Finish Types Explained | Toolstation

Paint Finish Buying Guide

Paint Finish Buying Guide

Planning your next painting project? There’s much more to consider than just finding the perfect shade!

The surface, the room you’re painting, and even the amount of light coming into the room will all influence the best type of paint finish to use.

From matt to eggshell to gloss, each finish has different advantages and considerations, meaning the decision can soon become overwhelming for those not in the know.

What Is Paint Sheen?

Sheen refers to the glossiness of a finish, and how light will reflect off the surface. Higher sheen means more shine, greater glossiness and (generally) more durability.

However, low sheen finishes are better at hiding imperfections and easier to touch up than glossier paints – meaning they can’t be ignored.

Types Of Paint Finish

Matt Finish Paints
Eggshell Paints
Silk Paints
Satin Paints
Gloss Paints

Other Considerations


Higher traffic rooms such as living rooms and kitchens need paints with higher sheen such as silk, eggshell or gloss to add a protective layer and protect against dirt or scuffing.

Surface Imperfections

Surfaces with more imperfections (or those that get a lot of direct sunlight) best suit lower sheen finishes because they absorb more light – hiding marks and scratches.

The Room

Some rooms, such as kitchens or bathrooms, will need more regular wiping than bedroom walls – so it’s best to choose a durable paint with a higher sheen such as silk, satin or gloss.


Dark, rich colours make surfaces seem glossier, meaning you may want to choose a flatter paint – or a glossier one for lighter shades.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What are the different types of paint finishes?

    The main types of paint finishes for interior walls are: matt, eggshell, silk, satin and gloss.

  • What is the best paint finish for interior walls?

    The best paint finish for interior walls depends on a number of factors including the type of room, the traffic the room gets, imperfections, colour choice, and whether it needs wiping regularly.

  • What is the difference between silk and satin emulsion paint?

    The difference between silk and satin emulsion paint is where they are most commonly used, because they look very similar once dried.

    Satin paint is mostly used for trims and doors, whereas silk paint is used on interior walls.

  • How long does interior paint take to dry?

    Some interior paints can dry in just one hour and are ready to re-coat in two hours, but it’s best to leave it as long as you can to ensure a professional finish.

    As a general rule, paints with more sheen take longer to dry – meaning you’ll want to leave gloss, silk, or satin paints for longer before recoating.

  • Can I use interior paint outside?

    Technically yes, but it’s not recommended because interior paint is not designed to deal with the elements. We recommend taking a look at our range of masonry paints for exterior painting.

  • What is interior paint used for?

    Interior paint is used for any surface inside a building including walls, ceilings, floors, cabinets, trims and doors.

  • How long does paint last once opened?

    If you ensure you close up leftover paint tightly and store it correctly, it could last up to two years – perfect for touch ups!

  • What paint should you use for interior doors?

    The best paint for interior doors is a satin finish – it’s a durable option, easy to wipe clean, and has a moderate sheen.

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