What Paint Finish Is Best for Living Room Walls and Ceilings?

Choosing the right paint finish for your living room walls and ceilings is essential for creating an inviting atmosphere. The wrong choice can leave your walls and ceilings looking dull and lifeless. So what paint finish is best for living room walls and ceilings?

A flat, matte, or eggshell finish will work best for walls and ceilings in living rooms. These finishes reflect less light than other finishes, so they won’t make your room look too bright or overwhelming. They also don’t show imperfections as easily, making them an excellent choice for low-traffic rooms.

In this article, you’ll learn:

  • The 5 factors to consider in choosing a finish
  • The 3 best finishes to use
  • Whether a glossier finish is possible
  • How to choose the right color

5 Key Factors to Consider When Choosing a Paint Finish

When choosing a paint finish, it is important to consider the following five factors.

Durability & maintenance 

One of the biggest factors to consider when choosing a paint finish is how durable and easy it will be to maintain over time. You want to ensure that your paint finish will stand up to daily wear and tear.

Light & reflections 

The amount of light and reflections the paint creates is also important. If your living room has a lot of natural light, you may opt for a finish that doesn’t reflect too much off the walls and ceilings. You also don’t want it to create too much glare in an already bright room.


For a more eco-friendly option, look for finishes that don’t contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and are low in toxic chemicals.


Cost is another major factor to consider when choosing a paint finish. While some may be more expensive than others, it’s important to look for quality, as this will determine how long the paint finish lasts and if you need to reapply sooner or later.


If you have children or pets in the home, washability and stain resistance should be major factors in your decision-making. Selecting a finish with good washability and dirt resistance will help keep your walls looking clean and new for longer.

The 3 Best Paint Finishes for Living Room Walls and Ceilings

Gloss is a measure of how much light reflects off the painted surface, affecting the paint’s appearance and durability. Gloss levels are usually measured from 0-100%. The higher the percentage, the shinier the paint.

A higher gloss level will make colors appear brighter, deeper, and more vibrant due to increased reflectivity, but it can also highlight any imperfections on a wall or ceiling.

High gloss paints are more durable than lower gloss paints and can usually withstand scrubbing and wear. They also tend to be more expensive.

Flat paint

Using flat paint in the living room is one of the best finishes, thanks to its velvety matte finish. It has a muted look that absorbs light instead of reflecting it.

Furthermore, this type of paint has a low reflectivity level of only 5%, allowing it to hide wall imperfections while creating an overall more elegant and visually appealing surface. 

In addition to its aesthetic qualities, flat paint is very practical as it won’t show brush or roller marks when applied.

The lack of light reflection also ensures that any necessary retouching work won’t be visible either. This makes flat paint the ideal choice if you need to make repairs without sacrificing your desired visual effect. 

Although flat paints can be aesthetically pleasing, they are not as strong and resilient as other types of paint. Therefore, it is important to choose high-quality products formulated with greater durability in mind.

A great example would be BEHR Ultra Scuff Defense Stain-Blocking Paint & PrimerOpens in a new tab.. This interior paint offers a muted look but boasts an extra level of durability compared to gloss paints.


  • Absorbs light and hides wall imperfections
  • Doesn’t show brush or roller marks when applied
  • Touch-ups are easy


  • Less durable than glossier finishes
  • Susceptible to scuffs and marks

Matte paint

Matte’s subtle sheen gives off a luxurious look without being too flashy. It has a reflectivity level of 5-9%. While slightly more expensive than flat paint, matte is still an affordable option to bring out any home’s beauty.

Regarding durability, matte paint is a great choice because it doesn’t chip easily and can withstand some cleaning. Plus, matte finishes tend to touch up better.

Remember, the flatter the finish, the easier it is to touch up; the glossier the finish, the more challenging it becomes.

Benjamin Moore AURA InteriorOpens in a new tab. paint is your ideal solution if you’re searching for quality matte paint. It boasts superior coverage with just one or two coats of application and provides a long-lasting sheen.

It is also stain-resistant and incredibly durable for scrubbing and fading, making it a fantastic selection for living room walls and ceilings.


  • Luxurious look without being too flashy
  • More resistant to both scrubbing and fading compared to flat paint
  • Touch-ups are easier than gloss finishes
  • Provides a subtle sheen


  • More expensive than flat paint finishes
  • Less durable than glossier finishes

Eggshell paint

Eggshell paint is one of the best finishes for living room walls and ceilings. This type of finish offers a beautiful balance between elegance, durability, and cost-efficiency.

Eggshell paint has a reflectivity level of 10-15%, is easy to apply, and features an eggshell texture that looks richer than flat paint. 

The cost of eggshell paint is still quite affordable, although it is slightly more expensive than flat paint. The moderate durability makes it ideal for areas with low to moderate foot traffic.#

The finish offers some moisture resistance, as well as good coverage. Moreover, the process should be fairly easy if you ever need to do any touch-ups since the colors will blend well together due to their low sheen levels. 

While other higher-sheen alternatives can offer greater flexibility and durability in terms of wear and tear, they are often too glossy for many people’s taste in living rooms or formal settings.

In comparison, the low sheen level found in eggshell paint makes cleaning easier without too much glare that may be distracting. 

The Sherwin-Williams Duration Home Interior Acrylic LatexOpens in a new tab. is an ideal solution for households that require versatile and long-lasting paint. With its anti-microbial agents, it effectively prevents mold and mildew growth on the surface of your walls.

Furthermore, this advanced formula includes stain-blocking technology, combining primer and paint into one product. Most stains can even be easily wiped away with water or soap.


  • Its subtle sheen adds depth
  • Rich, luxurious look
  • Good coverage and color retention
  • Easier to clean than flat paint
  • Touch-ups blend well


  • Not as durable as glossier finishes
  • More expensive than flat and matte paint

Can High-Sheen Paints Be Used in a Living Room?

High-sheen paint is not usually recommended for living rooms unless you are going for a particular aesthetic or have pets and children. While it can bring an energetic vibe to a dark living room, it can show minor imperfections on the wall or ceiling.

High-sheen paints, like gloss and semi-gloss, do offer many advantages. They are easy to clean, highly durable, and create an attractive look that can give any room a modern feel. The glossy finish reflects light, adding brightness and dimension to an otherwise dull wall color.

Additionally, high-sheen paints tend to last longer than other types of paint, making them a great option if you don’t plan on repainting often.

However, there are some drawbacks to consider when using high-sheen paints in your living room. First and foremost is the potential for glare.

The reflective qualities of high-sheen paints can cause unwanted glare from sunlight or artificial lights. This can be especially problematic in rooms with large windows or bright lighting fixtures.

Additionally, high-sheen paints tend to show flaws easily, any imperfections on the walls will be more noticeable than with other types of paint due to their glossy finish.

Finally, using a higher sheen can be tricky when it comes time for touchups. It’s difficult to match a new coat of paint with an existing one without leaving visible marks or streaks. 

On the other hand, satin paints are designed to provide an even softer finish with even less shine than either gloss or semi-gloss paints.

While it does add some light reflection to darker rooms compared to flat paints, it is not as glossy, so there will be less chance of highlighting any flaws in the walls or ceilings. Satin paints also have good durability and are easy to clean, making it a better choice for living rooms.

Oil-Based vs. Water-Based (Latex) vs. Acrylic Paints

Oil-based paint

Oil-based paint is not suitable for painting living room walls since it contains high levels of VOCs (volatile organic compounds) which can make the air inside your home toxic.

The fumes from oil-based paint are much stronger than water-based paint and can cause adverse health effects. This is one of the reasons why oil-based paint is not commonly available in America anymore.

Another issue with using oil-based paint on walls is that it takes longer to clean up after application. This is because it requires paint thinner or mineral spirits which take more time than the water-soluble materials used for latex-based paints.

Oil-based paints will also be more likely to yellow over time when exposed to sunlight or heat, making them unsuitable for living room walls where aesthetics are important. It also tends to chip and peel over time, requiring more maintenance than water-based paints.

Water-based (latex) paint

Water-based paint is one of the most affordable options when it comes to interior painting. It also dries much faster than oil-based paint and has little odor with low VOC levels (volatile organic compounds).

This type of paint also won’t yellow over time like oil-based paint can do and is easy to clean up with soap and water.

Also, it won’t trap moisture in your walls, so mold or mildew won’t be an issue. Another great benefit to using water-based paint is that it covers large surfaces in fewer coats, which means less time spent painting.

Although this type of paint does have some drawbacks, such as showing brush strokes more easily or swelling when applied on wood grain, it is still a great choice for any living room. Plus, water-based paint comes in various finishes, from high gloss to flat sheen.

Acrylic paint

Acrylic paint is a popular choice for many DIY projects due to its versatility and ease of use. It’s a relatively fast-drying, water-resistant paint made from acrylic resin and pigment, giving it a range of unique properties that make it a great choice for many applications.

Acrylic paint dries quickly compared to other types of paint, often within minutes, so you can work faster and finish your project quickly.

Due to this, painting bigger areas can be harder because the paint dries too quickly. Water-based paint might be more suitable in certain circumstances.

On the other hand, acrylic paint is also more resistant to fading than other paints. This means it won’t discolor over time from exposure to sunlight or other sources of UV radiation.

Plus, it will stick strongly to the surface you are painting on, so there’s less chance of the paint coming off in the future due to wear or weathering. This makes it a popular choice for painting exterior surfaces.

How to Choose the Right Paint Color for Your Living Room

Take into account your living room size

The size of your living room is important when picking a paint color. If your living room is small, opt for a lighter hue, as it will help give the illusion of a larger space. On the other hand, if you have a large living room, you can go bold with more saturated colors.

Consider your furniture and accessories 

Before you start painting, look around your living room and consider which colors will work best with the furniture and accessories already in place. Think about what colors will complement your existing decor.

Think about lighting 

Look at how much natural light enters through windows or doors throughout different times of day, as well as any artificial lights such as lamps or overhead lighting. These variables will play an important role in determining which shades of certain colors will look best.

Swatch test

Once you’ve narrowed down your paint selection, it’s important to test the colors. Buy some small swatches of the colors you’re considering and try them out in different areas of your living room over some time. This will help ensure that you are happy with the color before investing in larger quantities for painting.

7 Preparations to Consider Before Painting Your Living Room

Below is an overview of what you need to do to ensure that your living room gets the makeover it deserves. 

Put down newspapers or drop cloths

Take all furniture out of the living room, so it is easier to protect your floors from paint spills or splatters. Use drop cloths or newspapers to protect your flooring from spills and splashes during your painting project.

Prep tools & supplies

Gather all necessary supplies like rollers, brushes, and metal pans, and make sure they are cleaned properly before starting. Check expiration dates on cans of paint if needed.

Use safety gear

Wear a mask, goggles, and other protective gear while painting. This will help to protect you from fumes and paint splatters.

Prepare the walls

Remove any dust or dirt from the walls and repair holes or cracks in the surface before you begin painting, to ensure an even finish. Before painting, lightly sand wooden surfaces until they are smooth and uniform in texture, then remove any dust particles using a vacuum cleaner or damp cloth. 

Prime where needed

Some surfaces may need to be primed before applying a coat of paint. Primer helps prepare the surface for painting, creating a better bond between the surface and the new layer of paint.

These are just some important things to consider when preparing your living room for painting. With the right preparation and supplies, you can create a beautiful and inviting living room in no time.

Tape off areas you don’t want to be painted

Use painter’s tape around window frames, baseboards, corners, or other spots where you want to limit brush strokes from getting onto delicate surfaces like glass or woodwork – remove it once you’re done painting.

Open windows for ventilation

If possible, open some windows during your project so that fresh air can circulate through your space. This will help reduce fumes from the paint and make breathing easier too.

Joshua Milton

I want to share everything I know about home improvement in order to help you. Whether you're a home enthusiast or an industry professional, I have the information that you need.

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