The first thing everyone jumps to when painting is colour. However, there is a more important issue and that is the type of paint suitable for the specific application. You could have all the colours worked out but if the wrong paint is on that surface it will affect longevity and durability.

Flat & Matt Paint
These paints are the lowest of sheen levels and therefore suitable for areas that won’t experience any wear and tear. Flat paint is almost exclusively used on ceilings as it helps to reduce the appearance of imperfections and also keeps light from bouncing around the room. Ceilings are perfect for flat paints as they experience very little contact with grubby hand or friction. The one exception I would say to using flat paint on a ceilings are in areas like bathrooms, laundries and en-suites where there is steam and moisture with the possibility of mold or mildew taking up residence.

The majority of flat and matt paints are water based however you can still find flat enamel which, some of the older painting contractors would be aware, was the silver bullet for exterior soffits back in the day, these days not so much.


Low Sheen
Low sheen is the most commonly used paint for as it is the middle ground in terms of durability, finish and hiding capacity. Low sheen is very washable and also has slightly more reflective power giving that aesthetically pleasing finish.

Low sheen is only available in acrylic paints which is fine because the modern paints these days for both exterior house painting and interior house painting are very strong, versatile coatings.


Semi-gloss is probably the most versatile of finishes, it is not as porous as flat or low sheen and still gives the durability of a full gloss without the glare. It is also the best solution for wet areas or mold prone areas as it is very washable and Most pre-fabricated materials such as colorbond or cabinetry are semi-gloss so to create uniformity where these products are already in use we would use a semi-gloss.

Semi-gloss also comes in both enamel and acrylic paint, and is still use widely throughout house painting. Although semi-gloss acrylics are great on the exterior of the house enamel will struggle to keep their colour and may chalk and crack over time.


Gloss paint has the highest gloss level and is best used to highlight trims, curves or points of interest. It is also extremely reflective, easy to clean and durably, however, does not hide surface imperfections very well. Because gloss doesn’t hide imperfections very well you have to be very careful where you apply it, especially in the older houses in Brisbane that we paint, and be sure to prepare the surface to a high standard.

Gloss paints are also available in both enamels and water based paints. If you want to use enamel for exterior house painting, then you need to use high gloss as it has the capacity to last outdoors. Acrylic gloss is good but not as shiny as enamel, however gives you more flex and movement inline with the climate thus eliminating the eventually cracking of enamels.


Check out the table below as a quick guide of what to put where-