If you’ve chosen a new palette of paint colors  for your home improvement project, you may feel like you’re ready to head to the paint store. But before you do, there’s one more step to choosing your paint—the finish. Paint comes in a number of finishes, and you’ll need to know which finish is the best choice for your project before you can break out the brushes and rollers.

This is true—as long as the right type of paint is chosen. While choosing the right color can instill a certain ambiance, it’s equally as important to choose the right type of paint and finish for your project. 

To help you create the perfectly painted space of your dreams here’s everything that you need to know about the different types of paints and finishes from your favorite painting company serving the Atlanta area.

Primer

There are two different types of basic paint. Each one serves a different purpose but they are commonly used together. Primer is used on new surfaces to protect the material underneath. It also helps to even out color and provide a smooth canvas once the color is applied. It can also be painted onto existing paint. When the primer is applied to an existing color, it allows the new color applied on top of the primer to remain sharp. Primer can be oil-based and water-based.

First Coat Paint

The first coat is a specially formulated paint that is used to help build up the opacity. Typically, one or two coats of this type of paint are applied before color can be applied to the wall. Oil-based first coats are typically used for both indoor and outdoor use. Water-based first coats can be applied in multiple coats to ensure that even coverage is reached.

Flat Paint

Flat paints (also called matte paints) have the least amount of shine. They provide the most coverage of any other paint and require fewer coats to cover imperfections like nail holes. While they’re great for coverage, they’re the least durable type of paint and will be damaged if treated with cleaner, so they’re best used in low-traffic areas, like dining rooms, and surfaces that won’t be touched much, like ceilings.

Flat paint is available in any color you can think of. This matte-finish paint is typically best used for walls and ceilings. It can be mixed in a variety of different sheens including, matte, matte eggshell, and silk. Flat paint is one of the best choices for humid temperatures as it copes with moisture the best. It can be applied in numerous coats if needed to ensure there’s even coverage.

Eggshell Paint

This type of decorative paint is a bit more resilient than flat paint. Because it has more sheen to it, it can handle being cleaned and wiped down. Usually, two coats of eggshell are required on top of a primer or first coat to achieve the true color. This sheen is perfect for interior wood surfaces, especially if you’re looking for an alternative to semi-gloss colors.

Eggshell finishes are a very popular paint finish. They’re slightly more lustrous than flat paints (with the delicate low sheen of an eggshell), they still cover imperfections, and they’re more durable than flat finishes (though still not quite as durable as satin or gloss finishes). Eggshell paints are great for places with low or medium traffic, like living rooms, hallways, and entryways.

Gloss and Satin Finishes

Satin finishes are the most common interior paint finish. They have a velvety sheen and are easier to clean than flat and eggshell paints, which makes them a great choice for high-traffic areas like kitchens, playrooms, family rooms, bathrooms, and laundry rooms. (Before you use a satin paint, be aware that their sheen unfortunately is more apt to reveal brush strokes, making touch-ups slightly tricky down the line.)

For walls that attract fingerprints or for baseboards and high-traffic areas, gloss and satin sheens are best. These resilient paints are less prone to yellowing and stand up well when cleaned. Gloss and satin finishes can be used both on the interior and exterior of your home and are typically applied in a single coat.