Types of paint finishes

If you are contemplating a paint project, you will no doubt be studying swatches of colour samples.  Once that task is complete, you’ll have to decide on the type of paint you want to use, and we don’t must mean which brand you’ll use either.  There are lots of different types of paint finishes to help you achieve your desired look, here are the most common types to help you decide…

First off, it may be helpful to point out that emulsion comes in three common finishes – matt, satin and silk – all of which have different levels of sheen.

Matt emulsion

Matt emulsion paint is commonly used on walls and ceilings to help conceal imperfections on your walls or an uneven surface. It offers a no-shine finish so tends to be good at diffusing light.  Matt paint can be used in most rooms and not suffer with reflective walls or ceilings as they have a sheen level of less than 10%.

It can be less washable than gloss paint which leaves it susceptible to unremovable scuff marks when used in high traffic areas such as the hallway.  However, there are durable matt options available in most ranges, designed to resist marking.  Luckily, as matt paint is so popular as a finish, there are a ton of colours and brands to choose from.

Satin, silk and soft sheen emulsion

Each of these finishes are visibly shinier with a sheen level at varying degrees around the 20% mark or more.  They are often described as mid-sheen finishes because of the slightly polished surface they create.  Typically, silk and soft sheen is used for walls while satin is used for woodwork.

Silk and soft sheen are traditional finishes popular on walls in high traffic areas such as the kitchen as their shinier (and more wipeable) surface and a greater resistance to steam.  If you have young children a silk wall finish will be much easier to wipe those handprints from!


Wipeable and durable, an eggshell finish is great for woodwork and metal, but you can also use it on walls too if desired.  It has a tad more shine to its finish than matt emulsion but is more delicate than that of satin or silk – as its name suggests, its shine is likened to the shell of an egg.  Eggshell is commonly used as a modern alternative to gloss for trim – skirtings, window surrounds, sills and frames are popular high gloss lovers.  It’s more durable than matt, easier to clean and appears smoother in appearance.  Great for decorating large areas.


A gloss finish is all about the shine!  Most can be used on all common surfaces but, is probably most commonly used as a decorative trim or door paint.  Preparation is important for this type of paint – you will likely need to rub down the surface before application, so it goes on easier, and the best end result is achieved.  Each coat tends to take quite a long time to dry so make sure you check the supplier recommendations otherwise, all that prep work will be wasted, and you’ll be back at square one, rubbing down and applying again. There is a bit of a knack to applying gloss – when applied too thickly it can form drip marks.  However, all the precision and time taken when applying gloss is well worth the effort – it’s super durable and looks very aesthetically pleasing.

Masonry Paint

Masonry paints are highly durable weather-resistant EXTERIOR paints formulated to be suitable for all surfaces including brick, render, concrete, and previously painted exteriors. There are two main finishes: smooth and textures.  Smooth masonry paint usually provides a matt finish and is fairly easy to keep clean.  Textured provides a lightly textured finish which is ideal for covering imperfections.


For those of you into upcycling furniture, you will probably use a chalky type of paint.  It gives a unique, dead flat finished which is perfect for that shabby chic or distressed appearance associated with upcycled pieces.  Its sheen level should come in around 2% and a special wax or sealer can be used on top of the paint if you want to make your finish more durable.

Here at Wandsworth Sash Windows, we use spray paints when manufacturing all our windows and doors.  Spray paints create a nice, perfect, smooth finish to avoid brush strokes or paint drips that you can often get with hand applied paint.  As standard we use White Gloss or White Satin on our window frames. However, you do have the option of choosing a Farrow & Ball, Dulux, Little Green, Fired Earth or other preferred paint brand if you wish – we can colour match any of these paint colours for you.  You can even choose a different colour for your internal woodwork to match your interior, while choosing another colour on the exterior woodwork.

Contact the Wandsworth Sash Windows team

Talk to us – we can help with your bespoke window, door and joinery requirements. Call 02079247303 or email info@sashwindows.london.