6 Types of Interior Wall Paints Explained

Six different cans of paint are open for use.

There are several different types of interior wall paints, and the more you know about appropriate paintable surfaces and the effects that paint can achieve, the easier it is to make the right choice. It’s also feasible to mix different types of interior wall paint within a room, but you should know what you’re doing.

1. Matte Paint

Matte color is the most common of interior wall paints. There’s no shine or sheen to the finish, making it ideal for walls and ceilings where you don't want any visual distractions. It’s easy to apply, although it can often take more than a single coat to create a good solid color. Matte paint can be applied with a brush or roller and works well for covering imperfections on your walls. This makes it ideal for older houses. On the downside, matte paint is easily marked. Although some marks can be removed with a damp cloth, matte paint needs regular retouching.

2. Matte Enamel

Matte enamel is very much like matte paint but tends to be far more durable. It’s much easier to clean and rarely needs retouching, giving it a great advantage, especially if you have young children. It is also excellent for the kitchen, where you’ll regularly need to wipe the walls. The visual effect is very similar to matte paint and it can be applied in the same way.

3. Satin

Satin finish is one of the types of interior wall paint that many people know of, but few really understand. The finish is somewhere between matte and gloss and produces a low, soft sheen. This makes it ideal for areas where you’ll need to clean the walls regularly; however, you shouldn’t use a satin finish where you have a wall with imperfections because it will make them more apparent.

4. Eggshell

An eggshell finish has a shine that’s extremely subtle but without the same smoothness as a satin finish. Thus, it doesn’t highlight imperfections quite as much, making it a much more suitable interior wall paint. It’s easy to apply and can often cover well with a single coat, making it a better choice for many people.

Tip: Eggshell and semi-gloss paint both usually cover more surface area with less paint than matte paint.

5. Semi-gloss

Semi-gloss is another common interior paint, although it’s more commonly used on trim rather than walls. It offers a hard finish, is suitable for heavy use and is easy to clean with just soap and water. The shine produced is less than full gloss paint, but it’s usually easy to achieve a good covering with just a single coat.

Tip: Shiny paints bring out imperfections. Trust us on this. Spackle spots and other repairs are greatly accentuated by shiny paint, and they have to be perfect. Also, spackle spots must be primed or they will show up as flat spots in the shiny paint. The best way to cover spackle and repair patches under semi-gloss is to buy a quart of flat paint tinted to the color of the finish coat and spot prime the repairs.

6. Gloss Paint

Besides matte paint, gloss paint is the most common interior wall paint. It’s one you can use on most walls, although some people use it sparingly on these surfaces and prefer to use it on woodwork because of its high shine. Gloss paint shows all the imperfections on a wall and achieving an even coverage on a wall will often need more than a single coat.

Tip: Note that shiny paints take longer to dry, so plan your project with hours of drying time between coats. Fans will speed up drying.