Can Kitchen Walls Be Painted With a Flat Paint?

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The kitchen can be one of the messiest rooms in the house, even when it comes to the walls.
Image Credit: © by Martin Deja/Moment/GettyImages

The kitchen can be one of the messiest rooms in the house, even when it comes to the walls. Because of the potential for grease splatter, food residue and grimy handprints, a durable, washable wall paint is the best option for the kitchen. Using flat paint in kitchen spaces isn't a good idea in most cases, as this type of paint doesn't hold up well to washing.


Paint Sheen Differences

Although some paint companies have their own names for different paint sheens, one factor holds true among them all: the shinier the paint, the more durable it is. Flat or matte paint is the least shiny and does a great job of hiding imperfections because it doesn't reflect much light. Some flat paints are not meant to be washable, so they're best used in an area that won't need to be washed, such as the inside of a closet or the walls of a seldom-used guest bedroom. Eggshell paint is a little more reflective and a little more durable, and it's about as shiny as an actual eggshell.


Satin paint is a little shinier and a little more durable than eggshell. It's a good wall-paint choice for hallways, children's bedrooms, play areas and any place that may need to be washed on occasion. Semi-gloss, even more shiny, is a great choice for window and door trim, cabinets and even furniture. Choose satin or semi-gloss paint for kitchens and bathrooms, as these hold up well to moisture without being too shiny, in most cases. Flat paint isn't a good option for kitchen walls, although it could be the best paint finish for kitchen ceilings.

Glossy paint is even more durable than semi-gloss; because it is so shiny, it's best saved for areas that require major durability, such as kitchen cabinets and exterior door trim. It may be too shiny to use for the walls of an entire room, as it shows off every imperfection and may cause a glare in some instances.


Best Behr Paint for Kitchen Walls

Whether using Behr paints or any other brand, choose satin or semi-gloss enamel for most kitchen walls. Both satin and semi-gloss hold up well to repeated washings. Semi-gloss is a good choice for the fronts of kitchen cabinets, as well as the window and door trims. It can also work well on the walls nearest the stove and food-preparation areas because these spaces tend to get dirtier than other parts of the kitchen.

If your kitchen isn't used to prepare foods often, or if it's so large that certain areas aren't used regularly, an eggshell enamel may also work. Although eggshell paint is still washable, it doesn't stand up to repeated washings as well as glossier paints. Both eggshell and satin paints are in the middle range when it comes to shininess, so they're beneficial when you need a paint that is moderately durable and can hide some flaws on a wall's surface.


If unsure which option is best for you, purchase the smallest sample-sized cans of paint in the same color in several different sheens, such as eggshell, satin and semi-gloss. Paint wide bands of each paint near one another on the project well, then look at them in different lighting, such as in broad daylight and again at night with all the lights on.



Kathy Adams is an award-winning writer. She is an avid DIYer that is equally at home repurposing random objects into new, useful creations as she is at supporting community gardening efforts and writing about healthy alternatives to household chemicals. She's written numerous DIY articles for paint and decor companies, as well as for Black + Decker, Hunker, SFGate, Landlordology and others.

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