Matte / flat finish
Matte or flat-finish paints dry with no sheen – that is, they have a matte finish that does not reflect light. They work wonderfully at hiding imperfections on the wall and are forgiving on novice painters. Some paint specialists advertise washable matte paint. However, a matte finish is generally hard to clean, so it's advisable to keep leftover paint on hand for touch-ups. Matte paint is a good choice for ceilings or walls in rooms that receive little traffic, such as a study.
An eggshell finish is similar to a matte finish but it has a tiny glimmer of sheen when dry. Picture the low sheen of an egg and that is the effect your paint will produce. It suits walls as it washes slightly better than flat-finish paints.
Also referred to as velvet finish, a satin finish is often the glossiest finish a decorator will recommend for walls in rooms other than the bathroom and kitchen. It's ideal for children's bedrooms and other high-traffic areas such as hallways and living areas as it's suited to washing and light scrubbing. Satin-finish paint is regularly used for windows, doors, trims and ceilings, too.
Semi-gloss paint dries with a significant shine without being too glitzy. It is most often used on doors, windows, trims and bathroom and kitchen walls. It withstands water and frequent cleaning. Ensure, however, the surface is properly prepared prior to painting as its reflective nature highlights imperfections.
High-gloss paints have a reflective quality. They bring out even the slightest of imperfections, so meticulous surface preparation is essential. Some people find it too shiny and opt for semi-gloss instead. It is used mostly on windows, doors and trims. High-gloss is a good choice for painting furniture as it creates a modern, durable finish.