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Complete guide to interior paints

If you're working on a home renovation project for a customer and it’s time to give a room a fresh look, choosing the right type of paint can make a big difference. 

With many finishes, picking the best paint types can be confusing. Let’s look at the different types of wall paint, their applications and their benefits so you can decide which one is right for the project.

What are the different types of paint finishes?

There are loads of types of wall paint and finishes. The ‘finish’ of paint describes the look and how shiny it is when dry. The most popular types of interior wall paint are matt, textured, satin, eggshell, semi-gloss, high-gloss and specialty paints.

Interior paint


Matt or flat finish paint isn’t reflective and has a smooth surface. It doesn’t reflect light so is good for hiding imperfections on the wall. This paint type is usually used where a non-shiny or simple look is wanted. It’s not especially long-lasting, so it’s better for rooms where the walls won’t be touched as much.

●    Pros: Good for covering things up and cheap
●    Cons: Marks easily and is hard to clean


The texture of eggshell paint looks like an eggshell with a bit of a shine. It is tougher than matt paint and easier to clean. Most people use eggshell paint in bedrooms, living rooms and hallways.

●    Pros: Easy to wash and good at hiding marks or cracks
●    Cons: Not as bright as satin paints

interior paint


Satin paint has a smooth finish that reflects light and has a slight sheen. It’s stronger than matt or eggshell paint and is washable too. This type of paint is usually used in kitchens, bathrooms and other busy rooms.

●    Pros: Long-lasting and easy to clean
●    Cons: Can show application mistakes and isn’t very glossy


Semi-gloss paint is shinier than matt and satin but is less reflective than high-gloss paint. It’s a strong and mould-resistant paint that is good for busier rooms like kitchens, playrooms and bathrooms, or feature walls.

●    Pros: Easy to wipe clean, tough, and won’t go mouldy
●    Cons: Not the shiniest paint and can highlight errors

interior painting


High-gloss paint has a very high sheen and reflects light. It gives a bright and glossy finish to walls. This type of paint is good for places with less natural light, as it makes the room brighter. It’s also long-lasting and quick to clean. Designers use high-gloss paints in kitchens or for highlighting cupboards, doors, trim work or anywhere else that gets dirty.

●    Pros: Best durability, sheen and finish. Easy to clean and good for damp rooms
●    Cons: Needs more coats and can be tricky to apply. Shows wall imperfections


Textured paint creates unique wall textures, like sand, popcorn, or stucco. It helps to hide faults and makes a room more interesting. You can get textured paint in different finishes, including matt or gloss.

●    Pros: Very hard-wearing and good for covering flaws
●    Cons: Can’t be used on all walls

Specialty paints

Specialty paint types are used to create a unique look. They are usually put on just one wall or part of a room. 

Some examples include:

  • chalkboard paint — creates a wall that can be written on with chalk
  • super-matt paint — super light-absorbing paint that creates a heavy, flat look
  • metallic paint — has metallic elements that create a shiny, reflective surface
  • magnetic paint — contains iron particles that let magnets stick to it
  • glow-in-the-dark paint — absorbs light and releases it slowly in the dark to make it glow
  • heat-resistant paint — paint that doesn’t damage under high temperatures
  • anti-mould and mildew paint — contains chemicals that stop mould and mildew from growing on the wall

How to choose the right type of wall paint

With so many types of interior wall paint, picking the best one for a project can be tricky. Choosing the right type of paint depends on a few things, including what finish you want or your client wants, how tough or long-lasting the paint needs to be and personal likes or dislikes.

To help pick the best wall paint, you should follow these steps.

  1. Decide on a finish
    Ask your customer if they prefer a shinier or matt look. Take them through the different types of paint finishes available, explaining their differences.
  2. Look at how the room is used
    Rooms have different needs. Kitchens, hallways or bathrooms might need tougher paint as they are used more. Bedrooms or living rooms look better with a softer appearance and matt paint. Think about how the room will be used and how often it will be cleaned.
  3. Think about lighting
    Before choosing a paint type, you should look at the room’s lighting. Rooms with more natural light will look good with glossier paints, while darker rooms work best with matt or eggshell finishes to create a cosy look.
  4. Assess the wall’s condition
    If the walls have marks or cracks, matt or eggshell paint finishes can help hide these. Smoother walls can use gloss paint, which covers imperfections less well.
  5. Consider colour
    Think about the colour palette your customer wants and any colour trends — some paint types can make certain colours brighter or duller. For example, gloss paint makes colours bolder, while matt finishes can soften pastel shades. 
  6. Use test sample
    Samples are a good way to test different types of paint, mainly if you’ve not used the brand, colour or finish before. This helps you see how the paint goes with the lighting, décor and wall.
  7. Ask a professional
    It’s best to speak to an experienced professional if you’re unsure about paint finishes or need help choosing the best type of paint for your project. Decorators or paint experts can advise based on your needs and preferences.

Choosing the right type of interior wall paint can make a room look and feel better for longer. With many paint types to pick from, it pays to think ahead and have a good idea of the pros and cons of each paint type.

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