What Paint and Primer Is Best for High-Traffic Areas?

High-traffic areas are prone to wear and tear due to constant walking, cleaning, and moving furniture. Therefore, selecting paint and primer that can withstand heavy use, provide long-lasting protection, and resist stains and scratches is essential.

Scuff-resistant latex paint in a gloss finish is ideal for high-traffic areas. Latex paint is easy to clean and provides a durable finish that won’t fade or crack over time. Together with a stain-blocking primer, it will form a strong protective barrier against dirt, spills, and scuffs.

In this article, you will learn:

  • The 6 factors to consider when choosing paint for high-traffic areas
  • What type of paint to use
  • What finish is best
  • My top picks for the best paint and primer for high-traffic areas

The 6 Factors to Consider When Choosing Paint for High-Traffic Areas

1. Durability

This is one of the most critical factors when choosing paint for high-traffic areas. Make sure that you select a paint that can withstand frequent cleaning and scrubbing without fading, chipping, or peeling. A finish with more gloss for high-traffic areas such as corridors, entryways, and staircases will offer better wear resistance.

2. Resistance to Stains and Scuffs

High-traffic areas are prone to scuffs, stains, and marks that can cause unsightly blemishes to the painted surface. To ensure longevity, choose a paint that is resistant to stains and scuffs. These paints are labeled as “wash-and-wear,” “stain-resistant,” or “scuff-resistant.”

3. Easy Maintenance

When choosing paint for high-traffic areas, it is vital to consider the ease of maintenance. High-traffic areas such as kitchens, entryways, and bathrooms require frequent cleaning to maintain a clean and fresh appearance.

Select a paint that can be easily cleaned with soap and water without losing its pigmentation or sheen. This way, you can save both time and money in the long run.

4. Area of the Home

When choosing paint for high-traffic areas, it’s important to consider where the area is located in your home. For example, if you’re painting a hallway or entryway, you may want to choose a glossier finish to make the area easier to clean.

On the other hand, if you’re painting a bedroom or living room, you may opt for a softer finish that won’t show dirt and dust as quickly.

5. Climate

The climate of the area where the paint will be applied must also be considered. This is because harsh weather conditions can cause the paint to crack, fade, or peel over time.

If the area is prone to hot temperatures or high humidity, it is advisable to choose a paint that is specifically designed for such conditions.

6. Brand and Cost

While it may be tempting to choose the cheapest paint on the market, keep in mind that cheaper paint often means inferior quality.

Investing in a high-quality paint brand may cost more upfront, but it will save you money in the long run by lasting longer and requiring fewer touch-ups. Keep in mind that if you’re painting a large space, you may be able to save money by buying paint in bulk.

What Type of Paint Is Best?

Latex Paint

Latex paint is a popular choice for high-traffic areas, as it is highly durable and easy to clean. This type of paint is available in matte and gloss finishes, so you can choose the one that best suits your needs.


  • Fast Drying: It dries and cures much faster than oil-based paint.
  • Easy Clean-Up: Brushes and other tools can be cleaned easily with soap and water.
  • No Yellowing: Unlike oil-based paint, latex paint doesn’t yellow over time.
  • Environmentally Friendly: It is water-based and releases fewer volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air.
  • Washable: Walls painted with latex paint are more washable, an important factor in high-traffic areas.


  • Less Durable: It may not be as durable as oil-based paint, which could lead to more frequent touch-ups.
  • Swells Grain of Wood: It can swell the wood grain, making sanding between coats necessary.
  • Not Ideal for Certain Surfaces: Latex paint may peel or crack if applied over oil-based paint without proper surface preparation.
  • Less Smooth Finish: Latex paint often leaves a less smooth finish than oil-based paints.

Acrylic Paint

Acrylic paint is an excellent alternative for high-traffic areas. This type of paint has a thicker texture which helps it resist dirt, wear and tear, and other contaminants. It is also easy to clean and won’t yellow over time like oil-based paints.


  • Versatility: Acrylic paint can adhere to a wide range of surfaces.
  • Fast Drying: It dries quickly, which can be advantageous for completing projects in high-traffic areas that need to be accessible as soon as possible.
  • Easy Clean-up: Water-based acrylic paint can be cleaned up easily with soap and water.
  • Resistant to Stains: Acrylic paints are more resistant to waterborne strains like coffee, juice, and other beverages.


  • Durability: While durable, acrylic paint may show cracks or wear faster in high-traffic areas than other paint types.
  • Limited Open Time: Because it dries quickly, acrylic paint doesn’t provide as much time to work with it before it starts to cure.
  • Potential for Scuff Marks: Some sources suggest that acrylic paint isn’t as tough as oil-based paints when fully cured, so scuff marks and damage can occur in high-traffic areas.
  • Thinning Required: Depending on the application, you might need to thin out acrylic paint, which could affect its color intensity and coverage.

Oil-based Paint

Oil-based paint is ideal for high-traffic areas due to its hard, durable finish. It can also be used on various surfaces, including metal and wood.


  • Durability: Oil-based paints are highly durable and resist wear and tear, making them ideal for high-traffic areas.
  • Coverage: They provide excellent coverage in fewer coats than other paint types.
  • Smooth Finish: Oil-based paints level out well, giving a smooth and professional-looking finish.
  • Stain Resistance: These paints resist staining better than latex or acrylic paints.


  • Long Drying Time: Oil-based paints take longer to dry, which can be inconvenient in high-traffic areas.
  • Strong Odor: They have a strong smell that can linger for days.
  • Clean-up: Cleaning brushes and other tools require solvents like mineral spirits or turpentine.
  • Yellowing Over Time: Oil-based paints can yellow over time, especially in areas with little to no sunlight.
  • Environmental Impact: Oil-based paints release more volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air, which can harm the environment.

What Paint Finish Is Best?

When painting high-traffic areas, selecting a paint finish that can withstand wear and tear is important. The best paint finish for high-traffic areas is durable, easy to clean, and can withstand frequent scrubbing without showing signs of wear and fading.

To achieve these qualities, gloss or semi-gloss paint finishes are recommended. A gloss finish is highly reflective and has a shiny appearance that can brighten up any space.

It’s also moisture-resistant, making it a good choice for areas such as bathrooms and kitchen backsplashes. If you prefer a less shiny look, a semi-gloss finish offers a similar level of durability with a more muted sheen.

High-gloss or semi-gloss finishes are ideal for hallways, door frames, window sills, baseboards, and trim. These areas tend to see a lot of traffic and are prone to scuff marks, scratches, and dirt. With a high-gloss finish, cleaning becomes a breeze as the surface is easy to wipe down.

On the other hand, eggshell finishes are good for areas that need to be calm and muted, such as bedrooms and living rooms. Eggshell finishes have a low sheen that gives the walls a soft, velvety appearance. They are also durable but not as resistant as gloss finishes.

Typically, the higher the gloss, the more durable the finish. However, some paint brands now offer eggshell finishes that are as durable as gloss.

The Best Paints and Primer for High-Traffic Areas

Here is a list of my top picks for a semi-gloss paint, a matte or eggshell paint, and a primer for the high-traffic areas of your home:

Best Paint (Semi-Gloss)

Sherwin-Williams Duration Home Interior Acrylic Latex Paint and Primer in One is the ideal choice for high-traffic areas in homes and commercial spaces.

Its advanced stain-blocking technology seals old stains and repels new ones, ensuring a long-lasting finish. This paint contains antimicrobial agents that inhibit the growth of mold and mildew, making it a safe and healthy choice for areas prone to moisture. 

One of its primary benefits is its durability. This paint is highly scuff-resistant and can withstand chips, scratches, and dirt, making it perfect for kitchens, hallways, and other high-traffic zones.

Additionally, this paint protects surfaces from wear and tear, reducing the need for frequent touch-ups and increasing the lifespan of painted surfaces. 

It is easy to apply and maintain and can also be cleaned with water, making it a hassle-free choice for busy areas.

This paint dries quickly and is spatter-resistant, ensuring a hassle-free application process. Additionally, it can be applied in fewer coats, reducing the time and effort needed for a successful application.

Best Paint (Matte and Eggshell)

Benjamin Moore Ultra Spec SCUFF-X Interior Latex is a top-notch solution that provides exceptional performance and protection in the busiest areas. 

This single-component paint has been specifically engineered for outstanding durability and scuff-resistance properties.

The proprietary formula ensures that the paint will retain its high-quality appearance much longer than traditional 2-component coatings, minimizing the need for frequent maintenance.

The spatter-resistant and washable properties also make it easy to clean, while the quick dry time is an added convenience for busy areas.

One of the standout features of Benjamin Moore Ultra Spec SCUFF-X Interior Latex is its straightforward application, eliminating any pre-mixing or short pot-life difficulties commonly experienced with other similar products.

The paint contains antimicrobial additives that inhibit the growth of mold and mildew on the surface, making it a safe and healthy option for high-traffic indoor areas.

Additionally, this eggshell paint qualifies for LEED v4 credit and has CHPS certification, ensuring it meets the highest sustainability and indoor air quality standards.

The innovative Gennex Color Technology engineered into the paint also ensures a consistent finish that lasts longer than other alternatives.

Best Primer

Behr Multi-Surface Interior/Exterior Stain-Blocking Primer & Sealer is a top pick when selecting a primer for high-traffic areas.

This formula is specifically designed to resist medium to heavy stains, making it ideal for surfaces that experience a lot of wear and tear. Not only does it work well on interior walls, but it’s also effective on exterior substrates, making it a versatile option for both indoor and outdoor projects.

This primer’s 100% styrene acrylic formula sets it apart from others. This means it has excellent adhesion properties and can be tinted to achieve the desired color change.

This is particularly useful for high-traffic areas, where scuffs and marks are likely to occur, as it allows for easier touch-ups and a seamless finish.

In addition to its stain-blocking capabilities, the Behr Multi-Surface Interior/Exterior Stain-Blocking Primer & Sealer is also low odor and low VOC, making it a safer choice for use in homes and other indoor spaces.

And for added peace of mind, it provides mildew-resistant protection, ensuring your surfaces stay clean and hygienic.

Joshua Milton

Joshua Milton is a passionate DIY and home improvement enthusiast. With his expertise in various projects, he provides practical tips, step-by-step guides, and creative ideas for transforming your living space.

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