Real Simple

FINISH IS EVERYTHING

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“Color never stands alone. Any kind of light—natural or electric—changes the appearance of every paint. The type of finish you choose also has an impact,” says Rick Watson, director of product informatio­n and technical services at Sherwin-Williams. Your choice will depend on what your needs are.

YOU WANT TO DOWNPLAY IMPERFECTI­ONS ON WALLS

FLAT

Ideal for ceilings and low-traffic spaces, like a home office, this finish creates a uniform surface appearance, so it’s more forgiving of nicks and flaws. Because it reflects no light, your pigment may appear chalky. The big downsides? It scuffs easily and can be hard to clean.

YOU WANT EASY MAINTENANC­E

EGGSHELL OR SATIN

A cinch to clean and more durable than flat, these finishes are good for living rooms, dining rooms, and hallways. The slight sheen reflects just enough light to make colors appear more vibrant. (Satin is a bit glossier than eggshell.) Be warned, though, that it can be difficult to touch up small spots without leaving a patchy look—you may need to repaint an entire wall.

YOU WANT TO HIGHLIGHT ARCHITECTU­RAL DETAILS

SEMIGLOSS OR HIGH GLOSS

Use one of these finishes for doors, trim, furniture, or other accent features you’d like to draw attention to. They’re also great for areas that are susceptibl­e to mold, mildew, and stains, like kitchens and bathrooms. Dark shades tend to appear shinier in a glossy finish than lighter ones. Make sure your surface is smooth, as every imperfecti­on will be super visible.

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