Choosing the Right Finish

Choosing the right finish for your room is an important part of the overall design process and can make a huge difference in the impact of your design. It's important to know when and where to use certain finishes such as high-gloss or matte, for example, high-gloss will create a stunning and luxurious finish and elevate the look of the room but it's not forgiving when it comes to uneven floors, walls or ceilings. The same can be said of a matte finish. In high traffic areas, you'll want a paint that is more durable. 

Paint sheen or finish refers to the amount of light that is reflected on the coated surface, in other words, paints with a sheen (like high-gloss, semi-gloss, gloss) will reflect light while paints without will absorb light (eggshell, satin, matte). The sheen of paint is determined by the level of resin and pigmentation in the paint. Glossier finishes will have higher levels of resin, and lower levels of pigmentation while more matte finishes are the opposite having less resin and more pigmentation.

High Gloss

Semi- and high-gloss finishes will require more coats than their less glossy counterparts. Apply to smooth and clean surfaces for the fewest layers of paint and the best results.

  • Creates great curb appeal for outdoor projects like shutters and window casings
  • Gives a high-shine, glass-like finish that is popular for doors, cabinets, mouldings and trim
  • Creates the highest level of reflection


Gloss offers great moisture resistance and is a finish to consider for the bathroom and other high-moisture areas of the house, or exterior of the home, such as; utility rooms, doors, laundry rooms, and kitchens.

  • Gloss is very easy to clean and keep clean
  • White and off-whites in gloss make a room brighter


Semi-gloss works similarly to gloss and makes a room shiny, sleek and modern in its appearance. Be careful when using gloss finishes though, as they're weakness is revealing every bump on the wall. You'll want to make sure you give your wall a thorough cleaning, patching, and sanding and a few coats of primer.


By far satin finish is considered the most versatile of all finishes. It creates a pearl-like finish and a soft sheen and is the best choice for inside the home. It's also great for outdoor use as it resists mildew and fading and clean easily.

  • Works well in busy areas such as playrooms and home offices
  • Perfect choice for children's bedrooms
  • Great for moisture-prone areas such as kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry rooms

Eggshell or Matte

Eggshell and matte finishes are the go-to finishes with the least amount of sheen, absorbing light rather than reflecting it. It hides surface blemishes like nail holes and patches and easily.

  • Perfect for mid-low-traffic areas like hallways, living rooms, entryways
  • More washable than matte or ultra-flat sheens
  • Resists stains and scuffs


Matte, flat or ultra-flat paint gives a non-reflective, smooth appearance that hides surface blemishes and creates a soft look.

  • Requires fewer coats than higher sheen paints and easier to do touch-ups
  • Perfect for new construction, ceilings and low-traffic areas
  • Cleans easily with a damp sponge but will be damaged if you use chemical cleaners

CPCA Member Products
Buy from the Best

CPCA Member Companies and their products comply with ALL Canadian regulations – making them the most sustainable products available on the market. When you choose paint and coatings products manufactured and sold by our members you are choosing quality paints with product formulations that have been engineered to the highest standards. Take a look at what our members have to offer.

Now that you've learned which finishes are best in certain applications — take a minute to learn about how colour can inspire and shape the mood of your room.