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.


Paint finishes can completely change up your space, allowing more light to reflect around the room or even making the area feel cosier for those chilly evenings.


From matt to eggshell to gloss, each finish has different advantages and considerations, so 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 paint finishes are better at hiding imperfections and easier to touch up than glossier paints – making them a better choice in certain situations.

Types of Paint Finish

The main types of paint finishes are matt, eggshell, silk, satin, and gloss. They range from a low to a high sheen, and each one has a number of advantages and considerations. 

Matt Paints

Matt Paints

Matt paint has low sheen and absorbs light rather than reflecting it – making it a great choice for adding warmth and hiding imperfections on low-traffic surfaces such as bedroom walls and ceilings.


Matt paints contain high levels of pigment, offering great coverage; you can cover surfaces in fewer coats for quicker painting at a lower cost.


Wiping regular matt paint can cause the finish to come off, so they are less suited for bathrooms, kitchens and cabinetry. But don’t worry if you love a matt finish, here at Toolstation, you’ll also find scrubbable matt paints which can withstand more frequent cleaning.


  • Adds a warm, luxurious look to low-traffic rooms

  • Hides imperfections and offers great coverage

  • Easy to touch up

Things to Consider

  • Difficult to clean because the finish can wipe off

  • Consider a scrubbable version in higher traffic areas

  • Regular matt paints have low durability

Shop Matt Paints
Eggshell Paints

Eggshell Paints

Eggshell finishes have low-to-moderate sheen, making them more durable and easier to wipe clean than matt finishes – perfect for higher traffic spaces such as living rooms and dining areas.


Because of the lower sheen, eggshell paints hide imperfections better than satin and gloss, while still allowing light to bounce around rooms to make them appear bigger and brighter.


The slight shine to eggshell finishes makes it more difficult to add touch ups to small areas without seeing the layers of paint – it’s often easier to simply repaint the whole surface.


  • Easier to wipe clean than matt finishes

  • Doesn’t pick up dirt easily and hides imperfections

  • Reflects some light, so rooms seem brighter

Things to Consider

  • Hard to touch up small marks because of the sheen

  • Slightly less durable than silk and satin finishes

  • If needed, consider a more durable eggshell paint brand

Shop Eggshell Paints
Silk Paints

Silk Paints

Silk finish paints have moderate sheen – shinier than matt, flatter than gloss – and are durable and easy to clean; ideal for bathroom and kitchen walls, as well as kids’ bedrooms.


The moderate sheen reflects more light than matt and eggshell finishes, which bounces off surfaces to make rooms appear brighter and more spacious.


If your walls get lots of sunlight, silk paints can show up more imperfections than matt finishes because they reflect more light. This can be reduced with thorough priming.


  • Easy to clean – ideal for bathrooms, kitchens and kids’ rooms

  • Adds durability and protection to high traffic areas

  • Makes smaller rooms appear bigger and brighter

Things to Consider

  • More difficult to touch up – layers show

  • Priming is necessary

  • Shows up imperfections more clearly than flatter paints

Shop Silk Paints
Satin Paints

Satin Paints

Satin finishes, like silk paints, have moderate sheen and are very durable. They’re used on wooden surfaces like trims, doors and around windows because the sheen adds a protective layer.


Light bounces off satin paints, making rooms appear bigger and brighter.


Imperfections show up clearly because satin paint reflects lots of light, meaning thorough cleaning and priming is needed. It’s also more difficult to touch up smaller areas with satin finishes without layers showing.


  • Perfect for commonly marked/kicked surfaces

  • Durable and easy to clean

  • Reflects light – making rooms appear bigger

Things to Consider

  • More difficult to touch up

  • Thorough preparation is needed

  • Imperfections are more likely to show

Shop Satin Paints
Gloss Paints

Gloss Paints

Gloss finishes have very high sheen and are extremely durable and easy to wipe clean – perfect for trims, doors, cabinets, and surfaces in commercial buildings such as offices and schools.


They add a protective coating both indoors and outdoors, so they can even be used to protect surfaces from the elements.


Gloss finishes show up imperfections more clearly – thorough priming is needed – and it’s hard to touch up small areas without showing the layers of paint.


  • Ideal for high traffic areas – trims, doors and cabinetry

  • Easy to clean

  • Adds protection to your surface

Things to Consider

  • Shows up imperfections clearly

  • Careful preparation is necessary

  • Difficult to touch up – layers will show

Shop Gloss Paints

Key Paint Finish Considerations


Higher traffic rooms such as living rooms and kitchens need paints with higher sheen such as satinsilk, 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.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What are the different paint finish types?

What is the best paint finish for interior walls?

What is the difference between silk and satin emulsion paint?

How long does interior paint take to dry?

Can I use interior paint outside?

What is interior paint used for?

How long does paint last once opened?

What paint should you use for interior doors?

What is the difference between eggshell v matt paint finishes?

What is the difference between satinwood and eggshell paint?

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