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What is the Difference Between Flat and Matte Paint Finishes?

Whether you’re painting walls, furniture, or cars, understanding the properties of each type of paint finish is essential in order to achieve the desired look. 

This article will explore the differences between matte and flat paint finishes so that you can make an informed decision about which one is best for your project.

Matte vs Flat Paint: Which is Which?

Matte Paint

  • Matte paint has a smooth, velvety look and is often used in modern design schemes
  • Matte paint has a low-sheen, velvety finish that gives off a sophisticated, modern look. It is also known as “eggshell” because it has a slight sheen that resembles a bird’s eggshell. 
  • Matte finishes can be tinted to any color, so they are great for creating subtle color palettes. They also hide imperfections on the wall surface better than other paints because light does not reflect off them as much as it does with glossier paints.

Flat Paint

  • Flat paint, on the other hand, lacks the luster of matte but provides a uniform finish that hides small imperfections well. Both types of paint are easy to clean and maintain and create an attractive look whether applied to walls or furniture.
  • Flat paint has very little sheen at all, making it ideal for hiding blemishes on walls or ceilings due to its non-reflective properties. It provides a more uniform finish than matte paint, but can sometimes show brush marks more easily. 
  • Flat finishes are available in almost any color desired and are less likely to produce glare than other sheens such as satin or semi-gloss.

Flat and matte paints both have their own advantages depending on the project they are being used for. For those looking for subtlety in their painting projects, either one of these options will work well when properly applied and maintained over time.

Visual Characteristics

The visual characteristics of matte and flat paint finishes are quite distinct. Matte paints have a low-gloss finish and contain more pigment, giving them a richer color than flat paints. On the other hand, flat paints have a chalky texture with minimal light reflection. This gives them an almost velvety appearance that can look great when used on walls or cabinets.

Matte paint is also easier to touch up than flat paint, as it won’t show brush strokes and other imperfections as easily. However, because of its high pigment content, it may fade over time if exposed to direct sunlight or moisture. Flat paint is more durable in these situations and will keep its original color for longer periods of time.

Both finishes are popular choices for interior painting projects due to their unique visual qualities and levels of durability. Whether you’re looking for a classic aesthetic or something more modern, either option can provide a stylish finish to any room in your home.

Related: The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Perfect Paint Color for Your Home 


The durability of matte and flat paint finishes is an important factor to consider when choosing the right paint for your project. Both finishes are extremely durable, but there are some differences between them.

Matte paint has a higher level of resistance to wear, making it ideal for areas that will receive frequent contact and cleaning. It also has a more subtle sheen which makes it great for hiding imperfections, giving walls an even finish over time. The downside is that it can be more difficult to clean than flat paint as dirt and dust can accumulate on its surface.

Flat paint has a low-sheen finish that helps reduce glare in high-glare areas. This makes it great for ceilings or rooms with lots of light reflectors, like bathrooms or living rooms. However, the lower level of gloss can make flat paint vulnerable to staining and marks from spills and fingerprints.

Related: How To Pick The Right Paint Sheen 


Matte paint is generally more expensive than How To Pick The Right Paint Sheenflat paint, due to its unique finish. Its longer-lasting durability also adds to its expense. Flat paint is cheaper because it doesn’t require multiple coats and produces a durable finish with fewer materials.

In addition to the initial cost of the paint, you’ll need to factor in other costs such as the amount of labor needed for the job. With matte paint, you will generally need two coats of paint. This can add up quickly when considering labor costs, whereas flat paint only requires one coat of paint and takes less time overall.

The area being painted also affects the cost considerations between matte and flat paints. If you’re painting a large area or an area with high traffic, you may choose a matte finish that is more durable and resistant to stains and wear and tear. On the other hand, if you’re painting a small area with minimal traffic, then flat paint will suffice given its lower cost and one-coat application process.

Cleaning and Maintenance Requirements

Flat paint can be easily wiped down with a damp cloth. It doesn’t require any special cleaners or tools. 

Matte paint requires a little more work. You’ll need to use a mild cleaner and a soft cloth or sponge when you’re wiping it down, as harsh cleaners can damage the finish. 

One other thing to consider is that flat paint tends to attract dust more easily than matte paint does. So if you have a busy house, this might not be the best choice for walls or ceilings in high-traffic areas. Matte finishes are better at repelling dust particles and are less likely to need frequent touch-ups or cleaning.

So although both finishes look great, there are some key differences in terms of cleaning and maintenance that you need to take into account before making your decision on which one will be best for your space.

image of a woman cleaning her walls with a sponge

Colors and Textures

Matte paint is a popular choice for walls because it has a velvety, subtle sheen that gives it an elegant look. It also absorbs light better than other paints, making it great for darkening a room or creating a softer atmosphere. 

Flat paint has very little shine and is usually used for ceilings or trim work. It can also be used to hide imperfections in walls since it does not reflect light as much as other paints. In terms of color selection, matte finish offers more variety than flat paint. There are many shades of white and off-white that have a rich matte finish which can enhance any room’s decor. 

On the other hand, flat paint typically comes in fewer colors due to its limited reflective properties; however, manufacturers do offer some muted tones that can give the room an understated look if desired.

Application Process

Matte paint requires more coats than flat paint. It also requires multiple layers of primer before painting, as well as a sealant after the final coat for extra durability. Flat paint requires fewer coats and only one layer of primer before painting.

Another difference is that matte paint usually needs to be stirred more often during the application process than flat paint does. This is because matte paints have higher levels of pigment, which can settle or separate over time. Flat paints also require less time between coats of paint, as they dry faster compared to matte finishes.

Common Uses for Matte and Flat Paint Finishes

Matte paint finishes are commonly used for walls, ceilings, and other large surfaces. They are non-reflective and create a soft, subtle look that can help to hide imperfections such as bumps or cracks. It’s also used on doors and trim, as it is durable and easy to clean. It is also popular for furniture pieces, cabinets, and even floors in some applications.

Flat paint finishes are the most common choice for painting trim and moldings because they resist fingerprints and smudges more effectively than matte finish paints. They are also often used in areas where there is high moisture, like bathrooms or kitchens, as they don’t pick up water spots or streaks easily. Flat paint finishes also offer good coverage with just one coat if applied correctly.

Because of their durability and low reflectivity properties, both matte and flat finishes are ideal for use in any room that gets a lot of sunlight or bright light, such as a living room or bedroom. 

Matte paints can be used on walls to create a softer look than flat paints while still providing good coverage with just one coat of paint. Flat paints can be used on ceilings when you want an ultra-smooth finish that won’t show imperfections or brush strokes easily. 

Both matte and flat finishes come in various sheens so you can choose the right finish for your space depending on the amount of sheen you want in the room.

Choosing Paint Finishes with a Professional Painting Contractor

Professional painters can provide insight into which finish will work best in a particular room or space. Hiring a professional painter can save you time and money in the long run. A professional painter is knowledgeable about all aspects of the job, from selecting appropriate paints to taking proper safety precautions while working. 

Furthermore, they can offer advice on how to maintain your new paint job over time so that it looks its best for years to come. Our team at Kind Home Solutions has experience in applying different types of paint finishes and know how to properly prepare surfaces for painting to provide you with a finished product you’ll be happy with for years to come. 

Upgrade Your Home with the Right Painting Service

Ultimately it comes down to personal preference. If you’re looking for a classic look with minimal sheen then matte paint may be your best bet; if you’re looking for an ultra-flat finish with no hint of shine then flat paint will do the trick. 

Whatever you decide, Kind Home Solutions is always ready to help you out. For any questions, fill out our contact form or give us a call at 720-807-9068



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