What's The Best Paint Finish For Interior Doors?

One of the critical decisions you must make when painting interior doors involves choosing a paint finish. The type of paint finish you choose can significantly affect the door's look and durability. Selecting the appropriate finish enhances the aesthetic appeal and determines the paint job's longevity. The term 'paint finish' refers to the texture and sheen that paint has once it dries. This is mainly determined by the ratio of binders to pigments in the paint. Paint finishes range from flat (or matte), eggshell, satin, semi-gloss, and high-gloss, each offering a different level of shine and durability.

The best paint finish for interior doors is often a balance between aesthetic preference, durability, and cleaning needs. While some prefer a flat finish for its non-reflective property, it is not typically recommended for doors due to its poor durability and difficulty in cleaning. On the other hand, a high-gloss finish might offer excellent durability and ease of cleaning, but it might be too shiny for most people's taste. Most experts agree that semi-gloss and satin finishes strike the best balance for interior doors.

Satin or Semi-Gloss

So why semi-gloss? The semi-gloss paint finish is among the most popular choices for interior doors. This is primarily because of its impressive durability and ease of cleaning. The semi-gloss finish has a subtle shine (70 to 85 percent visible sheen) that can bring out details and give a stylish statement to your interior doors. Semi-gloss paint is also resilient to frequent cleaning, making it an excellent choice for high-traffic areas where doors can be subject to regular use and the occasional scuff mark. It also complements other finishes as well if used as an accent. Furthermore, it can resist humidity and moisture, making this paint finish suitable for the kitchen or bathroom.

However, a satin finish is another excellent option for interior doors as it offers a glow without the shine (about 25-35 percent visible gloss), providing an elegant and sophisticated look. Think of it as the "all-around" option as it is right in the middle of the paint sheen spectrum. Satin paints are less shiny than semi-gloss, giving the doors a warm and inviting look. Satin paint is best used in areas with moderate activity like a living room or hallway. These finishes are reasonably durable and are easier to clean than flat or eggshell finishes. The slight gloss of satin paint can hide imperfections better than higher gloss paint, but semi-gloss finishes may not be as resilient to cleaning or scrubbing as higher-gloss finishes will be.

Factors to consider

The choice between a semi-gloss and satin finish is a toss-up depending on the level of durability required. If the door is in a high-traffic area and you anticipate frequent cleaning, semi-gloss might be the better option, and you can use the leftover paint for trim and wainscoting. Whereas a satin finish may be ideal in a lower-traffic area where you prefer a more muted, sophisticated look, and it can also be used on walls and cabinets. 

But this all depends on the overall style of the home and personal preference of your home. For example, a modern, minimalist home may call for the crisp lines and pronounced detailing that a semi-gloss finish can offer. Whereas a traditional or rustic-style home may benefit more from a satin finish's soft, warm effect. 

Ultimately, the best paint finish for interior doors comes down to practicality and aesthetic preference. Semi-gloss and satin finishes are generally the top picks due to their balance of durability, ease of cleaning, and aesthetic versatility, and a well-chosen paint finish will not only make your doors look stunning, but also ensure that they can pass the test of time.