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Painting Glossary

picking out paint, paint glossary, painting your home

Photo by Antonis Achilleos

Ever wander into a paint store and get brain freeze as you're sorting through paint chips, trying to figure out the difference between finishes? Here's the deal: 

Latex paint
is best for most jobs, including walls and trim. It’s easy to clean up (because it’s water-based), has less of an odor, and dries more quickly than oil-based paint.

Oil paint has a very durable finish, good for wood surfaces in high-traffic areas (like doors or hallway trim) or high-moisture areas (like a bathroom). It's difficult to clean up, if left to dry more than 1 hour.

Flat finish is a no-shine finish, good for covering imperfections on your walls. It won’t wash well, so it’s not good for high-traffic spots.

Eggshell finish has a slight sheen (good for busy areas because blemishes can wash away). Use it in the kitchen, bathroom, living room, and hallways.

Semigloss finish is shiny and washable, ideal for setting apart doors and windowsills from surfaces with flat paint. Use for trim, shutters, bathroom, and kitchen.

High-gloss finish is super-shiny and very durable. Used mostly for trim and floors.
Low-VOC paint can often be mixed to order in different finishes. Its base is odorless and better for you and the environment.


-- Miles Stiverson

See More: Painting & DIY