Indoor residential painting is full of decisions. Do you do it yourself, or hire a professional painting crew? What color of paint do you want? What finish of paint do you want? Wait--finish of paint? Yes, paint comes in at least five finishes. Each finish has a certain level of difficulty when it comes to cleaning your walls. When you know which is which, you can keep ahead of the messes your toddlers and preschoolers put on the walls.
The word "flat" appropriately describes this finish. There are no extra polymers in this paint to make it glossy; not even a little bit. It is straight color. While you can use a damp rag to wipe off those little fingerprints the kids leave behind, it may take a little scrubbing, and a little of the paint, with it. If your walls have a spray texture or spackling, you can bet that it will take some effort to remove stains (even when the stains are wet) without removing bits of paint.
This is almost flat in appearance, but with a slight sheen. Some professional painters will recommend it for low traffic areas, like a dining room, but if you eat in your dining room regularly, that is not a sound idea. It takes less effort to clean eggshell finish, and it does have a little more protection. However, if your little ones fling spaghetti sauce and noodles at the wall, the orange color might leave a hint of stain behind.
This finish is ideal for hallways as it cleans up much nicer than eggshell or flat. It also reflects the light a little better, which is especially nice in a long hallway with limited lighting. A living room does well with a coat of satin finish too, since all light will fill the room by bouncing off the walls and back into the center of the room.
Semi-gloss paint dries with a nice shiny sheen. It is very easy to clean, much more so than the three finishes above. It may serve you well in your toddler's or preschooler's room, where the munchkins are more likely to fling things at the wall or draw and paint on the wall. It provides a durable hard coating that the kids cannot dent quite so easily either.
Boundless light and amazing strength; that describes high gloss paint. This is far and away the most durable, most shiny, and easiest paint of all to clean (once it is on your walls). It looks wet, even when dry, but it can really brighten up a dark room. It is excellent for both kitchens and bathrooms, the two rooms in the house that can get the dirtiest when you have kids.
Talk to a local painting professional for more info.