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Types of Interior Paint Finishes and How to Use Them

Finish is usually related to ‘sheen level’, or rather, how much light a paint finish reflects. So, a high-sheen paint (like semi-gloss), will reflect more light, and have a shinier appearance than matte-finish paint. But how do you know which paint finish is right for your home project? Wonder no longer.

From lowest to highest sheen, here are the most common paint finishes in Australia and how to use them.

Flat or Matt

Low-sheen, matte finish paint is popular with interior design fanatics, offering impactful, deep colour. With almost no sheen, matte paint hides blemishes such as small dints, nail holes and imperfections in the plaster. But be warned—matte paint has low durability and can be difficult to clean, with the porous finish often trapping dust and dirt.

Recommended For: Rooms with large windows, ceilings, and rooms with low foot traffic.


It’s no mystery where eggshell paint got its name. Like the matte yet slightly reflective surface of an egg, eggshell paint is a step up from matte. Still with limited durability, the finish of eggshell paint has slightly more sheen, but still disguises imperfections with ease.

Recommended For: Loungerooms, bedrooms and entryways—rooms with medium foot traffic.

Low Sheen

Perhaps the most popular of the bunch, low sheen finish paint is a great middle-ground between matte and glossier finishes. Low sheen paint offers moderate durability, reasonably easy cleaning, and deep, rich colour. So, if you’re a style guru who has children or a large family, low sheen paint may be for you.

Recommended For: High-traffic areas such as hallways.

Semi Gloss

If you’re okay with a little extra sheen, semi-gloss can provide a durable, versatile finish perfect for rooms that cop a lot of moisture or grease (like bathrooms and kitchens). However, semi-gloss paint will highlight imperfections in your wall. Every divot, bump, and lump will be visible in the right (or wrong) lighting, so keep that in mind.

Recommended For: Bathrooms, kitchens, skirting boards, and cabinetry.

Gloss or High Gloss

High gloss paints are the most durable of them all. Easy to clean, high-gloss paint will resist dust, dirt, and marks from little sticky fingers. However, high-gloss paint is also quite bold, and will highlight imperfections the most. Either way, you can’t beat practicality!

Recommended For: Skirting boards, cabinetry, or thoughtfully styled rooms.

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