When selecting paint for a project, finish is as important as color—in case you weren't aware, there are five standard finishes to choose from, ranging from flat to gloss. The glossier the paint, the lower the amount of pigment in the formula, while matte means more pigment and less resin.
But why does the finish matter? It affects both the luster and wash-ability, which translates to walls that are shiny or dull, hard-wearing or less so.
Traditionally, we are taught (by our parents and our paint salesmen) to use certain sheens for certain surfaces without question: satin on walls, flat on ceilings, and semi-gloss on trim. These standards were set decades ago, and are based on old formulas. But major advances in paint technology—together with some inventive designers—are making the old rules obsolete. Ahead, your complete guide to paint finishes.