painted house exterior - modern farmhouse style
In: Home Improvement, How to

While spending a considerable amount of time indoors, we’ve been getting to know all of our walls quite intimately.

We’ve noticed that several spots could use some love: Some need re-painting and freshening up, while others could use a serious colour update with paint. Outside, there’s the garage – which we’ve been meaning to paint for awhile – along with a yearning for a high-impact front door colour. We have some painting to do!

Whether you plan to paint yourself, or hire a professional, here’s a quick guide to the different types of paints.

semi-gloss painted wall
Source: The House of Silver Lining

Types of Paint Sheens

Sheen, or paint finish, refers to how much light reflects off a painted surface. The sheen can affect colour’s appearance, and has the ability to add dimension. The spectrum of sheen ranges from no shine (i.e. “flat” has no sheen) to high shine (“gloss”):

Flat – Its “lack of reflection allows more paint pigment to come through, is more forgiving of flaws and allows for excellent hide, creating a uniform surface,” notes the Benjamin Moore guide on choosing paint finishes. Flat offers a flawless finish; use in very low-traffic areas.

Matte – Provides excellent coverage and depth of colour, but with more durability than flat. Can withstand frequent washings. Has a luxurious look.

Eggshell – Also low-sheen but more durable and easy to clean than matte & flat paints. Its “soft glow casts colours beautifully.”

Pearl – A medium gloss with high durability for high-traffic areas and mildew resistance for high-humidity rooms.

Satin – Has higher gloss than eggshell while offering better stain resistance and durability. Good for highlighting architectural details.

Gloss (Semi and High) – Luminous look that creates dimension on millwork, trim, and doors. Highly durable, stain-resistant, and creates a stunning look.

flat paint feature wall in bedroom
Source: AirBnB – Barefoot Bay Villa

Pick the Right Paint Sheen for Your Project

Which sheen best suits the spot that you need to paint? Our Interior Designer Jillian Fritz weighs in on picking the right sheen below. She notes, “Each company will have slightly different names for their available paint sheens. This information we’ve provided is based on Benjamin Moore products.”

Interior Painting

  1. Ceiling: Ultra Flat – it’s very important to use an ultra flat sheen to hide imperfections on your ceiling.
  2. Baseboards, Window & Door Casing, Crown & Doors: Pearl or Satin Finish – semi-gloss used to be the go-to for trim paint but now some people find it’s a bit too shiny. Pearl or a satin has the perfect amount of sheen to allow washability.
  3. Walls have two options:
    • Matte finish – it’s very important to use a high quality matte finish product to ensure you get a washable finish. The bonus of a matte vs eggshell is that it hides more imperfections—great for large walls!
    • Eggshell – slight sheen to provide a washable finish without being too shiny.
bright orange painted front door

Exterior Painting

  1. Low lustre is the go-to for sheens on the exterior of your home. You can paint almost everything low lustre (it’s comparable to an interior eggshell).
  2. Flat – Good for stucco application.
  3. Satin – Use for doors exposed to a lot of exterior elements.

Note: High gloss can be used outside or inside for dramatic effect. It’s less popular but effective in certain applications such as architectural details.

Our Top 3 Home Colour Picks

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the endless colour choices, Jillian shares her top three paint picks in four colour categories. If you search for these colours on Pinterest, you’ll find hundreds of images to help you visualize the final outcome for your project.


white painted living room
Source: Simply White living room, Studio McGee


Cloud White – Classic, perfect amount of creaminess

Simply White – Soft, warm undertone without being too yellow

Chantilly Lace – Bright crisp white without being too blue


paint update on closet doors
Source: Iron Mountain closet doors, Nyla Free Design


HC-169 Coventry Gray – Perfect amount of cool tones

OC-52 Gray Owl – Off-white gray that goes with almost everything

2134-30 Iron Mountain – Classic charcoal gray; great for exterior & interior

Benjamin Moore best green paints


HC-134 Tarrytown Green – Classic deep pine green

2140-30 Dark Olive – Neutral olive green

2140-40 Storm Cloud Gray – Slight gray undertone makes it universal

Update: Green is the Colour of the Year for many paint companies in 2022—see their picks and several great inspiration images in Paint Colours Picks for 2022.


Navy painted kitchen cabinetry
Source: Hale Navy kitchen, Studio McGee


HC-154 Hale Navy – Perfect deep navy

2062-20 Gentleman’s Gray – Rich tones with a slight green hue

CC-710 Mount Saint Anne  – Calming colour; great for bedrooms

We’ve painted many kitchens with blue over the years, such as this West Vancouver Coastal Modern. See our Design Inspiration gallery for searchable ideas as well as BM Newburyport Blue in this kitchen pantry and in this kitchen.

NOVERO Homes & Renovations provides high-quality professional painting services. If you’re considering outsourcing your paint update project, contact us for an estimate.

Feature photo source: Studio McGee