Decide on the Right Paint Finish to Fit Your Style

Most would agree that wall colour is a key decorating choice, right up there with picking furniture and pinpointing your style. But what about the finish of your walls? From velvety matte to high gloss enamel, Venetian plaster, decorative finishes and much more, the choices are endless — and the choice you make can have a profound impact on the appearance and feel of the room. Read on to find the rundown on nine of the very coveted wall finishes, so you can make a great choice for your space.

Creative Interiors By Liz and Joann

Paint Finishes

Matte. Not to be mistaken with flat paint (usually only used on ceilings), paint using a matte finish is velvety and makes colours seem especially rich and deep. It is not at all reflective and hides wall imperfections nicely — but it’s hard to clean. A fantastic choice for areas with less traffic houses without crayon-wielding children.

Studio Zerbey Architecture + Design

Eggshell. One of the most well-known finishes for interior partitions, eggshell paint includes a subtle glow, moderate reflectivity and is rather simple to clean. It’s a fantastic paint option.

Carolina Design Associates

Semi-gloss. With much more reflectivity than eggshell, semi-gloss paint is a popular choice for trim. From the distance shown here, the walls have an eggshell finish the ceiling is horizontal and the trimming is done in semi-gloss.

Jagoda Architecture

High gloss or lacquer. Lacquered (aka high gloss) walls and ceilings have been a hot look in decorating for a while, and it is a trend that seems to have staying power.

Real-deal lacquer contains toxic ingredients and is no longer used in most areas. Rather, a lacquer-like impact can be created using regular paint using a high gloss finish, or using a modern lacquer that combines high gloss paint using water-based varnish.

High gloss paint makes a reflective surface and is highly durable. But be warned — it’ll reveal every imperfection in your walls.


Making this appearance demands some serious wall prep. Most walls will first have to be skim-coated, where a layer of joint compound or plaster is applied, before priming.

During painting, you may have to layer four, five, four or more coats of colour to get the effect you’re searching for. Pros spray instead of brush onto the paint to get an ultra-slick appearance.

Right Meets Left Interior Design

If you would like to lacquer a small area, such as the pocket door exhibited here, doing it yourself is sensible.

But if you have your heart set on high gloss living area walls (and ceiling), it is best to hire a professional.

And you may expect it to put you back more than the typical painting occupation — it will have a great deal more paint, and extra time to apply and prep.

Artstar Custom Paintworks

Special Effects

Cosmetic painting. Searching for something a little different? Think about doing a faux or decorative finish on your walls. From a gorgeous patina that looks as though it came directly from an old European resort, to fun designs and textures, the only limit is your creativity. For many, this can be a fun DIY experimentation; for many others, a professional decorative painter may be in your future!

Prices vary depending on the intricacy of your paint project, the size (and problem) of your area and the expertise of the painter — one job could cost anywhere from a few hundred to tens of thousands of dollars.

Steven Miller Design Studio, Inc..

Murals. An initial, hand-painted mural created just to your home is something to cherish. Whether you’re looking for a special scene to complete baby’s nursery, or even a one-of-a-kind statement to your formal dining area, a mural can be the ultimate expression of your own aesthetic.

Like other art mediums, mural prices can fluctuate wildly. Based on the finishes used, a mural may be readily damaged — or quite durable. If you want an easily cleaned surface, it’s very important to speak with the muralist through the first planning stages to see whether it’s feasible.

Wendi Young Design

Venetian plaster. Lustrous and full of texture and in colour, classic Venetian plaster is considered by some to be the ultimate in elegance.

Originating in Venice from the 1500s, this interior finish is made of slaked lime, marble dust and pigments. It is a lot stronger than paint and resists cracking.

Prices range from $5 to $15 per square foot. Ceilings and columns will probably cost more because those are difficult areas to work on.

Fitzgerald Studio

American Clay plaster. This organic clay and recycled marble dust plaster creates a look that falls somewhere between southwestern adobe and Venetian plaster — rich, earthy and highly pigmented. American Clay is nontoxic and durable, and can be implemented over just about any type of substrate. Costs are normally a bit lower compared to Venetian plaster — about $2 to $10 per square foot.

Design Line Construction, Inc..

Stained wood panel walls. When you have wood paneling instead of sheet rock or plaster, you have the option to blot, instead of paint, the wood. The allure of blot is that the grain of the wood shows through. Wood stain alone will have a finish akin to matte paint, but you can change the appearance by using a glaze using a greater sheen at the top.

Inform us Have you ever tried a decorative wall finish? Or want to? Which is your favorite?

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