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How To Choose the Perfect Paint Finishes for Your Remodeling Project

Never wonder what paint finishes to choose again. Rely on this comprehensive guide to picking the perfect finish for your project.

March 26, 2018

Choosing the best interior paint finish has a huge impact on your home’s overall look.

It’s vital to carefully consider what each option can offer—the right finish can mean the difference between a squeaky clean, well-lit space and a gloomy, cramped dungeon.

Before jumping into the options, carefully consider these prompts:

  • The size of the room
  • Who will be occupying the room
  • The level of foot traffic it will receive
  • How much light is coming into the room
  • The purpose of the room
  • The look or aesthetic you wish to achieve

Picking the proper paint finish is especially critical when remodeling a smaller space like an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU). ADUs can add significant value to a property, so investing the time and resources into the perfect build is essential when making the most of that smaller space.

  1. When To Choose a Matte Finish

Matte finishes have a very low gloss percentage, meaning they don’t reflect much light. The high pigmentation makes this one of the easier types of paint finish to apply.

This low-luster flat paint finish is tricky to clean and is more vulnerable to peeling and damage from scrubbing or washing. Mattes are perfect for low-traffic areas and spaces where you might want to hide surface imperfections.

Surfaces that are harder to reach and aren’t exposed to dirt or scuffing are best for mattes. These paint finishes are fantastic for storage areas, guest bedrooms, and ceilings. Try to avoid rooms prone to disruptions or damage, like kids’ rooms.

If you are looking to rent out an ADU, a matte finish is one of the best paint finishes to pick. Matte paint finishes make for excellent DIY touch-ups–perfect for quick coats needed between renters.

  1. When To Choose an Eggshell Finish

Eggshell paint finishes, though still in the low gloss category, are shinier than matte. This allows it to brighten up interior spaces that receive minimal natural light.

This low sheen finish combined with lighter paint colors is key in brightening up walls. Eggshell is a lovely choice for smaller spaces like ADUs or tiny homes to help them feel as bright and airy as possible.

This finish offers a happy medium between a flat matte finish and a glossier satin paint finish. Eggshell will camouflage imperfections and has boundless versatility. Eggshell finishes work well in light to medium traffic areas, such as bedrooms, living rooms, offices, and conference rooms.

  1. When To Choose a Satin Finish

A satin finish is a medium gloss finish. It is more durable than the previous options, making it a pleasure to clean.

However, there is a trade-off when it comes to comparing this finish to its lower sheen cousins. This paint finish doesn’t hide damage and imperfection as well. If you are painting the rooms yourself, be careful and deliberate.

Satin finishes are great for medium to high-traffic areas requiring more upkeep than normal, such as dining rooms and reception areas–or entryways to ADUs.

  1. When To Choose a Semi-Gloss Finish

Semi-gloss paint finishes are very durable and reflect light beautifully. However, they also highlight imperfections and scuffs more than their lower sheen counterparts and require more careful attention to detail when prepping and painting.

Interior designers rely on this finish to brighten up darker areas like hallways and pantry nooks. Semi-gloss finishes are great for high moisture and activity zones, like children's rooms, entryways, kitchens, and bathrooms.

  1. When To Choose a High-Gloss Finish

High-gloss paint finishes are supreme in both durability and reflectivity. This finish supports walls exposed to splashes and moisture, high activity, and high traffic.

Much like its other high-sheen companions, when applied poorly, high-gloss finishes might highlight preexisting wall damage and imperfections. With that in mind, slow and steady application is the best way to avoid highlighting those areas you’d prefer hidden away.

Its high durability also makes it much faster to clean (an important point to consider if you have any combination of kids and crayons). High-gloss finishes are perfect for bathrooms, kitchens, and playrooms. Plus, it looks stunning on crown moldings and other trim.

  1. How To Pair the Right Finish With the Right Paint Color

From flat to a high gloss, each finish has its pros and cons. Choosing the right paint finish can also depend on the color you choose.

Deep and rich colored paint has higher saturation and more pigmentation. These attributes enhance the paint’s sheen and pair well with lower sheen finishes like matte or eggshell.

Higher sheen finishes tend to work better with lighter, more pastel colors. Their reflectiveness to light pairs well with the lower pigmentation of these lighter colors. The high durability of glossier finishes makes those deep cleaning days a breeze. Dirt or grease splatters are no match for glossy finishes.

  1. What Do You Need To Paint Interior Walls?

If you choose to take on the challenge of painting yourself, come prepared. Calculating the amount of paint you need is only half the battle.

Here’s a list of some items you should keep around:

  • Paint tray
  • Plastic bucket
  • Paint scraper
  • Plastic sheeting
  • Paint roller with an extension
  • Paintbrushes

Painting can be fun, but make sure to take the proper safety precautions when painting interior walls. Paint in a well-ventilated area and wear all the necessary PPE required to make this a safe endeavor.

Paint Colors for ADUs: What To Know

Whether you are constructing a separate housing unit for renters or guests or fabricating a work-from-home office space, the right paint finish can make the difference between these spaces.

Always keep in mind what the purpose of your ADU is when selecting the right paint finish. High-gloss finishes and bold, dark colors may not be the most suitable choices in a home office. Perhaps a lighter color with a matte finish would better align with staying focused and relaxed.

Keep in mind what type of ADU you have. If you have an attached ADU, matching the paint finish and color to the rest of your home will create a smooth and cohesive impression.

Or perhaps, if you’re constructing an ADU with the intent to rent it out or create a space for older relatives or other family members to live. In that case, bold, memorable colors and higher-sheen paint finishes are your best bet at creating a more durable and welcoming environment.

Expert Advice from the ADU Experts

When looking to make a big impact with smaller spaces, an ADU can make every space more functional, practical, and eye-catching.

You can rely on Cottage for help every step of the way when building attached, detached, or conversion ADUs. Cottage has a team of experts who can help make your ADU dreams a reality.

Whatever intent you have, Cottage has the ability and know-how to see your vision come to life.


How to Paint Interior Walls Like a Pro | Spruce

Paint Calculator: How Much Paint Do I Need? | Spruce

How to Paint Safely | HowStuffWorks