The standard finish is flat for ceilings and what we typically spec. It is the most economical and unless we are making the ceiling a feature, flat works.
The current selection of choice for builders is flat for walls. Again this is the most inexpensive finish so when painting an entire house, it saves builders money and shiny walls in general are not currently on-trend. We always recommend to clients to go with a matte finish for the walls. Companies like Benjamin Moore and Sherwin Williams offer a matte finish to interior walls in their higher price point lines but they are more cleanable and in our option worth the upgrade especially if you have kids or pets. With flat walls, there is not wiping or removing any marks. The only thing that can be done is to repaint the area to get rid of any markings.
We typically spec a satin finish for all millwork. Satin is going to give you a sheen that will reflect some light, be easy to wipe down and contrast against your walls. We will sometimes select a semi-gloss or high-gloss if we want to achieve more reflectivity and are going for more of a glam or lacquered look.
When it comes to trim, satin is the finish of choice. We want it to have some contrast in sheen in comparison to the walls. We also want it to be easy to clean. Most of the time, the cabinets and trim are the same color and same sheen especially when we spec a white paint.
When it comes to exterior paint, we always go with a low-luster finish. We do not want the house to look shiny and we want the color to look like it’s saturated. Also, it’s the exterior—you need to be able to wash it down. Exteriors get dirty in the elements.