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How to Use Different Paint Finishes to Improve Your Home Design

How to Use Different Paint Finishes to Improve Your Home Design

When we think of the paint on the walls of our home, we often think first about colour. Although the colour choices we make are very important (obviously), we also should consider the kind of paint being used. After all, reality and life happen in our homes, and sooner or later things end up on the walls.

Is your paint designed to withstand daily life, and is it the right product for your particular lifestyle?

Let’s find out.

Water-Based Paints

Gone are the days of lead-based paint (thank goodness). The vast majority of today’s paint products are water-based, which is not only better for our health but better on the environment as well, contributing to a smarter and safer home. Water-based paints contain low levels of toxic emissions (low VOCs) so you can be sure your family isn’t breathing in any off-gasses. This type of paint is also easy to keep clean as you can simply wash off any mess with a damp sponge and mild dish soap.

When applied, water-based paint dries quickly so if you’re doing any spot repairs, these should dry in only a matter of hours, making maintenance a breeze.

How to Use Different Paint Finishes to Improve Your Home Design Painting Wall ImagePaint Finishes

This one is tricky and is sometimes a matter of making the choice between what looks good and what will function for your family. Paint comes in many different types of finishes which can play a role in your home’s design based on how they look when dried.


Matte paint has a very dull finish with virtually no gloss at all. This is a great finish when you are aiming for a softer look to the room, as it reflects almost no glare from natural and unnatural light. It’s a very popular choice in the latest trends in luxury homes and often makes colours appear more deep and vibrant.

Matte comes with one challenge, though, in that you have to be extremely careful when you wash it as it can buff, leaving you with a shinier spot where you washed. Matte paint is not a great choice for families with young children or pets.


Eggshell is the most popular choice when it comes to paint finish in homes. It can offer some of the benefits of matte paint in that colour is vibrant, but it has a bit of a sheen to it. This means your walls will have some reflectivity of light, but the tradeoff is improved durability. This paint is easier to clean and is often used in demanding, high traffic areas of the home.

Semi-Gloss and Gloss

Semi-gloss and gloss paints have the most reflective sheens and are very high in durability. You can wash these walls multiple times without risk of damage. The extra shine may make this a desirable choice when looking for upscale design options. When you paint your home in high gloss, natural or artificial light can reflect off of it for a classy effect. However, this type of paint also tends to highlight imperfections so you’ll need to make the right decision on which walls you apply this finish to.

Making the Choice

If you’re having a new home built and you’re choosing paint at your design appointment for its first application, the choice is simple. How often do you anticipate needing to clean your walls and what type of finish are you looking for in terms of design?

Since this application is the first, the only paint underneath is the primer coats applied as a base to the paint itself. And of course, your freshly installed and prepared drywall should be a quality installation, rendering an impeccable canvas on which to apply your preferred paint colour and finish.

If your paint, however, is being applied overtop of other coats of paint, you’ll need to know what type of paint was used in the layer you’re covering up. If the paint was oil-based, you’ll likely not be able to apply a water-based paint on top as it won’t adhere. If this is the case, you’ll need to lightly sand the existing layer in order for the new layers to adhere properly.

If you’re covering up a wall that previously had texture applied to it, you’ll most certainly need to sand down the texture before applying any new coats of paint. Without this important step, you won’t be satisfied with the results and you’ll be wishing you had done the extra work.

Love your home even more by choosing the right paint product and style of finish.


Photo credits: paint cans, painting wall

About The Author

Lenka V.

Publishing, graphic design, business and real estate round out my professional career and my two teenage boys keep me on my toes at home.

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