Are You Selecting The Right Paint Finish For Your Furniture?

Are You Selecting The Right Paint Finish For Your Furniture?

Are You Selecting The Right Paint Finish For Your Furniture?

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Giving your existing or newly thrifted second-hand furniture a fresh coat of paint is one of the easiest ways to make it better match your style, protect it from damage, and disguise any imperfections on the surface. But it’s important to choose the correct finish to ensure you create the final look and durability you want in your piece. There are several different finishes of latex paint, each with different levels of durability and sheen, that are better-suited for different projects. Furniture, however, usually requires something with high durability that doesn’t look super shiny — like a satin or pearl finish.

This finish is best if you’re planning to use latex paints, one of the most easily-accessible options with a massive selection of colors to choose from. But there are other choices you can go for if you’re in search of a more matte or shabby-chic look. The correct type of paint for your project depends on your desired final look. For that reason, it’s best to know what exactly you’re going for before you start ordering colors to test.

Why a satin or pearl finish is best

man shopping for paint

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Most latex paints fall into one of seven categories. Each one features different levels of sheen, or reflectiveness — though different brands have slightly different classifications. This exact finish has to do with the amount of enamel present in the final mix. This enamel makes the paint more resistant to water, harder to chip, and easier to clean. However, it also makes it more reflective, often in a way that’s slightly distracting to the final look. Unless they’re going for a very specific finish, most people are looking to find a compromise that includes as little enamel as possible.

Finishes like flat and matte are less shiny, but more prone to chipping and damage. Eggshell and low-luster paints are popular choices for walls, as they’re durable without being super reflective. Semi-gloss and high-gloss paints are by far the most easy-to-clean, but also create a more shiny effect that many homeowners don’t want as an accent. The best compromise? Satin, also known as pearl.

Other options that work well with furniture

person painting cabinet with chalk paint


If you’re in search of a matte finish, but would rather stay away from flat and matte latex paints, consider picking up some chalk paint for your next project. This paint finish is still latex-based, but it has mineral inclusions that give it its distinctive, chalky look. The problem with chalk paints, however, is that they tend to be quite brittle and prone to chipping when applied. This is great if you’re going for an intentionally-shabby look with plenty of texture. But, for most applications, it’s best to properly seal them with a layer of wax or varnish to lock everything in.

In the same vein, there is also milk paint that has a similar formula and finish to chalk paint. Milk paint will also chip and distress over time unless you use a proper primer. Basically, any matte paint will have a bit of an issue with wear and tear — but there are ways to get around that. For a straightforward approach, however, satin or pearl latex paints are going to be your best bet.

Charlotte Gammon

By Charlotte Gammon

Meet Charlotte Gammon, our expert and author. She's our true treasure, as she has got 20+ years of experience in gardening, winery and house design. In early 2000s, she worked for magazine and was in charge of the gaardening section. Later on, Charlotte opened her own designer agency and worked as a designer and decorator. We are happy to have Charlotte with us, as she is our good friend. We value her experience and we're sure you will love the articles she created for our blog.