Best Paint Finish for a Living Room for a Clean Look

Published February 9, 2022
Bright living room in a modern luxury house

Creating a clean look for your living room walls is about more than just color--your paint finish plays the biggest role. There are several paint finish options for your living room, and each has their place depending on the condition of your walls, and the look you're hoping to achieve.

Find the Right Living Room Paint Finish

When searching for the best paint finish for your living room, it's important to first know how paint finish affects color. The colors you choose for your living room walls and ceilings can appear quite different in various finishes. When you select a paint finish with no sheen, like matte or flat paint, the color is absorbed visually into your space. Matte and flat paint can make color appear softer and richer, but it will lack crispness. Eggshell and satin paint add more sheen, (which is another word for light reflection), while still keeping the comfortable look of matte and flat paint. Glossy paint finishes can be tricky for walls and ceilings, so be sure to consider their best uses before committing to them. The paint samples you buy will most likely be formulated with flat paint, so be sure to take that into account when evaluating your color options.

Flat and Matte Finish

Flat and Matte Finish

Flat finish paint is not just for apartments and rental homes anymore. While it's still valued for its affordability and ease of application, the newest flat and matte paints are prized for their beautiful soft finish. The popularity of rustic and modern farmhouse decorating styles has renewed interest in a natural finish for walls and ceilings. White walls are no longer a default color, but are now a deliberate design choice, and flat paint offers a unique depth that glossy paints do not. Flat paint finish can be a cleaning challenge, so it's best for rooms that won't experience scuffs and marks through activity.

Tips for Using Flat Paint Finish

Flat and matte paint may be the perfect finish for your living room.

  • Flat paint is a practical choice for living room ceilings.
  • A flat or matte paint finish is a casual look for living rooms and makes a good backdrop for natural decor and plants.
  • If you love the look of white paint, a flat finish can make it look velvety and smooth.
  • Flat paint is a good option for downplaying awkward texture and imperfections.
  • Explore specialty matte finishes for a high-end living room look.

Eggshell Finish

Bohemian living room interior

Eggshell paint offers luster, rather than shine, making it a stellar option for your living room. To achieve a clean finish, eggshell and satin finishes are the standout choices. With just enough luster or shine, your paint colors will look crisp and fresh. Even with the slight luster of eggshell, it's matte enough to downplay minor to moderate imperfections. If your walls and ceilings are filled with imperfections, you'll want to seriously consider a matte or flat finish instead.

Tips for Using Eggshell Paint Finish

Elevate your living room with the luster of eggshell paint finish.

  • Consider eggshell finish as a step up from flat or matte in formality, but it still can be a casual look.
  • Eggshell finish has a slight luster that creates interest and gives it better cleaning and durability than flat finishes.
  • Rooms with inadequate natural light can benefit from the luster of eggshell paint.
  • Eggshell paint is more forgiving of wall and ceiling imperfections than flat or matte finishes.

Satin Finish

Living room in retro style

The terms satin and eggshell are often used interchangeably because they can be similar in appearance and durability. What can also complicate the terms is that paint brands have different ideas and formulas for each. This means what might be called eggshell in one brand, could be called satin in another. Being clear on your goals for your living room paint makeover will help you choose the right finish.

Tips for Using Satin Paint Finish

Satin paint finish can give you the durability you need with the casual look you love.

  • Considered by designers to be the most-reliable of paint finishes, satin combines the best of flat and semi-gloss finishes.
  • Satin offers a more formal look without the glare of glossy paint finishes.
  • Adds more light reflection to a dark ceiling, but may highlight imperfections.
  • Ask the paint store if this satin is glossier than eggshell, as the terms can be confusing between brands.

Semi-Gloss Finish

white living room

Semi-gloss paint finish is perfect when you love a glossy look, but aren't sure about diving into a full high-gloss look in your living room. Semi-gloss isn't a common choice for living room walls and ceilings, but it can make colors pop and bring an energetic vibe to a dark living room.

Tips for Using Semi-Gloss Finish

Want to try a semi-gloss finish? These tips can help.

  • Semi-gloss is durable, which makes a good choice for active spaces including game rooms and family rooms that need more regular cleaning.
  • If your walls and ceilings have noticeable imperfections, semi-gloss finish highlights them.
  • Kids' rooms are a great option for semi-gloss walls, as they often need walls that can be easily cleaned and maintained.
  • Glossy paints can show every brush or roller stroke, so make sure you check your work in full light to be sure that it's smooth.

High-Gloss Finish

High gloss paint has a place in your living room when used for trim, cabinetry, and doors. Because glossy paint shows every imperfection, it's not a popular choice for living room walls or ceilings. There is a high-gloss luxury style gaining popularity for living rooms and dining rooms. Some designers favor a lacquer-style finish in rich colors, for a decadent look.

Tips for Using High-Gloss Finish

High-gloss finish is perfect for some situations.

  • A high-gloss finish is suitable for cabinets and trim, and can give your living room a clean and crisp style.
  • High-gloss paint can be unpredictable to apply, and may not be suitable for a DIY painting project.
  • Updating living room furniture with high-gloss paint is an eclectic look that can bring in your accent colors.

Creating a Living Room You Love With the Right Paint Finish

Starting your painting project with the right finish for your room can help you transform your space into the living room of your dreams and make the most of your paint color choices.

Best Paint Finish for a Living Room for a Clean Look