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Painting the walls of your home does not need to be a major project. It used to be that you had to prime the walls, wait for that to dry for a day, then paint a few coats—with considerable waiting in between each layer.
Modern interior paint has solved this issue by offering a single primer/paint solution. Plus, it usually dries quickly and is generally easy to apply. We have searched for the best interior wall paints, looking at color selection, different finishes, specialty paints, and more.
Here are the best paints for every budget and interior aesthetic.
Best Overall: Sherwin-Williams Cashmere Interior Acrylic Latex
Our top choice is Sherwin-Williams Cashmere. This acrylic latex paint/primer combo stands out for its buttery smooth application. It automatically levels out into an even layer. In other words, you won't have to worry about permanent roller marks or brush strokes.
When your walls dry, you'll be left with an ultra-silky, rich finish that looks great from every angle. This wall paint offers exceptional coverage, effortlessly hiding any colors or marks underneath. It comes in five different sheens, and you can upload your own color to create a custom hue.
Best Budget: Glidden Essentials Interior Paint
If you're on a tight budget, Glidden Essentials Interior Paint is a high-quality option with an affordable price tag. When you want to refresh your living room, entryway, bedroom, or home office, this paint provides excellent coverage and an easy-to-clean finish.
Glidden Essentials can be tinted into upwards of 1,100 colors, and you can choose from flat/matte, eggshell, or semi-gloss. We also appreciate that this is a low-VOC (volatile organic compound) latex paint with minimal odor. Plus, Gliddon backs it with a 15-year warranty.
Best Color Selection: The Spruce Best Home by KILZ The Spruce Best Home Interior Paint & Primer in One
Your next paint project is about to get more colorful! The Spruce Best Home Interior Paint & Primer in One is a premium acrylic paint that’s perfect for interior walls. After listening to reader feedback and experimenting with different formulas, we studied the most pressing concerns (odor, formula, application, and color). We developed a paint product that we love and think you will too!
Produced by KILZ, you can choose from matte, semi-gloss, and eggshell finishes. While all three are stain-resistant and long-lasting, our matte formula has the lowest level of sheen (0 to 4 units at 85 F) and is perfect for ceilings, bedrooms, and other rooms that don’t see as much foot traffic. The eggshell or semi-gloss paint has a slight sheen (17 to 22 units at 85 F) that’s decorative and easy to clean.
We’ve invested considerable time testing this paint. We are impressed with the thick coverage and depth of color. We found that one coat will do when you expect to need two. Since we know that picking a color can feel daunting, we narrowed down our colors to 32 curated shades that are elegant and versatile. You can’t go wrong with any color you pick. Low odor was also important to us; our product is low VOC and low odor. You can apply this paint with a nylon or polyester brush, a roller, or an airless paint sprayer. It is available exclusively on Amazon.
Best Splurge: Backdrop Standard Finish Interior Paint
If you're in the market for luxury wall paint, you might want to splurge on a can of Backdrop Standard Finish. This premium, water-based paint is formulated with acrylic resin, which makes it easy to apply. This self-priming, low-VOC formula goes on smoothly and dries quickly with minimal odors.
Backdrop Standard Finish delivers a rich pigment with a perfect low-sheen, semi-matte finish. Choose from tons of stunning colors with irresistible names, like Rose Quartz, Skywalker, and Drive-Thru Safari. There's a mix of bold colors that are perfect for accent walls or big design moments and more neutral shades that will work in any home.
Best Low-VOC: Clare Wall Paint
If you prefer low-VOC products, you'll appreciate the VOC-free formula of Clare Wall Paint. This Greenguard Gold-Certified paint emits zero volatile organic compounds. Plus, it has an ultra-low odor, so you can breathe easy not only while you apply it but for long after.
While this 100 percent acrylic paint is a bit spendier than most other brands, you'll get what you pay for. It offers impressive coverage and a remarkably smooth, durable finish that resists dirt, mold, and mildew. Get super convenient peel-and-stick color swatches before you purchase a full can.
Best Chalk: Rust-Oleum Chalked Ultra Matte Paint
Besides painting your walls, you can use Rust-Oleum Chalked to transform wood furniture, metal fixtures, and ceramic items around your home. This low-odor latex paint is easy to apply, effortlessly adhering to most surfaces and is dry to the touch in 30 minutes.
Best Matte: Valspar Signature Flat Tintable Interior Paint
If you like a matte finish, we recommend Valspar Signature Flat. The tintable interior formula is a paint and primer in one. Unlike other matte paints, it has special "scuff shield technology" that protects against scuffs and stains. It's also resistant to fading, scratching, and scrub marks.
Valspar Signature Flat goes on smooth and effortlessly conceals any existing paint, marks, or imperfections on your walls. As a Greenguard Gold-certified product, this is a low-VOC paint.
Best High-Gloss: Valspar Ultra High-Gloss Paint + Primer
For an extra glossy finish, Valspar Ultra High Gloss is the way to go. Like its flat counterpart, this paint/primer formula resists stains, scrub marks, scuffs, and general wear and tear. It has a washable finish, meaning most marks and stains will wash away with soap and water.
This acrylic paint is suitable for indoor and outdoor use. No matter where you apply it, you can count on this burnish-resistant finish to retain its glossy appearance.
Best White: BEHR Premium Plus Semi-Gloss Enamel Interior Paint & Primer in One Ultra Pure White
If you're looking for the perfect stark white color, check out Behr Premium Plus Enamel Ultra Pure White. This combined acrylic paint and primer come in five sheens, including flat, eggshell, satin, semi-gloss, and high-gloss.
The low-odor formula glides on easily and covers your existing wall color—even dark shades. It resists mildew and is ideal for bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms, basements, and other moisture-prone spaces.
Best for Ceilings: Benjamin Moore Waterborne Ceiling Paint Ultra Flat
Benjamin Moore Waterborne is the best interior paint for ceilings. The ultra-matte sheen hides any imperfections on your ceiling, leaving a virtually flawless finished appearance. It's easy to use and resists gravitational dripping and splattering. This low-odor ceiling paint emits zero VOCs, giving you peace of mind about the air you breathe in your home.
The best paint for interior walls is Sherwin-Williams Cashmere Interior Acrylic Latex (view at Sherwin-Williams). You can't beat the buttery smooth application and rich, low-stipple finish. However, if you're having a hard time choosing a color, you can't go wrong with The Spruce Best Home by KILZ Interior Paint & Primer (view at Amazon). The 32 shades are curated, providing foolproof versatility and an elegant appearance.
What to Look for in Paints for Interior Walls
The color you pick is likely your biggest consideration when selecting interior paint. Even if you already know what color interior paint you want, there are many shade choices. Most major paint manufacturers offer an extensive selection of color chips. Use them to narrow down your options, then consider purchasing a pint-sized paint tester to try out the color at home if you’re still torn.
If you can’t find an exact match in the color swatches, typically, you can have a custom color mixed at your local paint store. Bring in a sample of the shade you’re imagining—it can be anything, even a pillow or a favorite sweater—a color code machine called a spectrophotometer scans and deciphers the color. The machines aren’t perfect—so visually check the color to see if it’s on target with what you were imagining. The paint mixer should be able to tweak it further, if necessary.
Another option is a small device, the Color Muse, which can scan a wall, counter, or other object and find you the closest color match among top paint brands. The device reads the RGB (red, green, blue) values of the color and identifies paint choices that match. If no matching shade is found, the device provides you the RGB code to create a custom paint shade. Paint color options are limitless. The bigger task is selecting your top choice for your space, style, and furnishings.
You have three basic finish categories to choose from, and sometimes paint is categorized by these finish types. Select from a flat finish, low-luster, or glossy finish.
Flat paint is exactly as it sounds—the resulting finish doesn’t reflect much light. It’s also called a matte finish. This type of interior paint is good for surfaces that won’t see much action, like ceilings. It’s usually the least expensive type of interior paint, and it can be difficult to keep clean and look fresh. Only use flat paint if you’re on a tight budget and using it on an out-of-the-way location in your house. On the plus side, matte paint will hide imperfections better than shinier finishes.
The next type of finish is low-luster, which only offers a slight reflection of light. Low-luster paints include both eggshell and satin finishes. Of the two, eggshell is slightly more matte. This type of paint is prevalent since it’s versatile and offers increased durability and cleaning ability compared to flat paint. You’ll likely want to use interior paint with a satin or eggshell finish in the majority of areas within your home, such as living room and bedroom walls, hallways, bathrooms, and more are all good places to use a low-luster finish.
Finally, paints with a glossy finish offer a high amount of sheen or light reflection and a harder finish than flat paints. This category includes semi-gloss paints that are slightly more matte than their glossy counterparts. Glossy paint is used for windowsills or handrails, while semi-gloss paints are popular in higher humidity areas, like kitchens or bathrooms. Glossy paints look beautiful but magnify any imperfections in the surface they’re painted on, so take this into account when selecting your paint finish.
The finish you choose will depend on where you are painting and how resilient you want the finish. Aesthetics also play a role; high gloss finishes add drama, while a more matte appearance might play into calmer surroundings.
Volatile organic compounds are commonly referred to as VOCs, and it’s important to know if your paint has them. If the thought of a freshly painted room makes your nose wrinkle, it’s because you’ve smelled VOCs before.
To keep the chemistry lesson brief, VOCs are organic chemicals that turn into a vapor or gas that you can breathe in. Paint is one of the leading household products with VOCs, and the National Institute of Health warns that exposure to VOCs can cause headaches, irritation of the respiratory tract, dizziness, and other long-term health complications with prolonged exposure. The EPA sets limits for acceptable levels of VOC in paint products. Green Seal offers certification to paint products that meet even more stringent standards for VOC emission levels if you're looking for additional peace of mind.
Many latex-based paints are considered low VOC formulas. These are a better option for interior painting since they will minimize the exposure you have to VOCs during painting and afterward.
Oil-based paints have a higher concentration of VOCs, and so do the paint thinners needed to clean the brushes and rollers you use to apply the paint. If you opt for oil-based paint or paint that isn’t low VOC, take extra precautions to ventilate the area and protect your eyes, skin, and respiratory system.
Some interior paints have additives to enhance the application or finish of the paint. Consider what you’re trying to achieve with your painting project to determine which—if any—additives are necessary for your purposes.
Enamel is one of the most common additives you’ll find in interior paint. The addition of enamel to the paint formula reduces the paint's porosity and results in a harder, more durable finish. This could be important for high traffic areas where dirt might infiltrate the paint or if the finish is subjected to lots of touching and bumping.
Acrylic is often added to oil-based paint to prevent yellowing. This is a common downfall of oil-based interior paint. By adding acrylic, the paint stays true to its original hue longer. You’ll also see acrylic added to latex paints to improve their durability and finish.
Why Trust The Spruce?
Theresa Holland researched and wrote this roundup. As a professional writer and homeowner with a DIY spirit, she has substantial experience testing and reviewing home improvement products. In addition to The Spruce, she also writes for MyDomaine.