Choosing the Right Paint Sheen | Finish

Choosing the Right Paint Sheen | Finish

Choosing the right paint sheen for your room can be just as important as choosing your paint color.

When choosing your paint sheen/finish for your interior walls, you first need to decide what type of room you will be painting and the shine and durability you are wanting.

Let’s take a look at your options from High to Low

High Gloss | Gloss:  Doors, cabinets, and intricate woodwork

These sheens are ultra-shiny and have a polished look.  Since they have the highest durability they also resist stains and are very scrubbable.

Create dramatic effects with paint sheens - Behr paint
Create dramatic effects with paint sheens – Behr paint

Note:  All gloss paints reflect light and therefore exposes all imperfections in your cabinets and moldings.  So when choosing this sheen, be certain to prep your surfaces well, very well.

Semi-Gloss:  Kitchens, laundry rooms, bathrooms, doors, and trim

This sheen has a more subtle shine.  It’s scrubbable and resists stains.  This is a popular sheen and one we recommend for our homeowners doors and trim.

Note:  Like High Gloss, it also exposes surface imperfections and is difficult to touch-up, but it also makes your molding pop!

Satin:  Kitchens, laundry rooms, bathrooms, children’s bedrooms, hallways and high traffic areas

This one has a beautiful velvety luster and is best used on “wet rooms” where there is high humidity.  This is a washable,  not a scrubbable surface, but one we used in our children’s bedrooms.  While it does not hold up to repeated washings, it does very well if you are not wanting a high sheen look.

Note:  This sheen shows application flaws, such as brush and roller strokes.  It is also more difficult to touch-up at a later date, especially when using dark paint colors.

Eggshell:  Living rooms, dining rooms and adult bedrooms

This sheen (which looks like, well…an eggshell) hides wall imperfections quite well. The lighter the paint color, the better the touch-up.  Eggshell and Satin are very similar, depending upon the paint brand used.  Again, always double check your dried down sheen prior to painting.

Flat/Matte:  Ceilings, closets, adult bedrooms and rooms will little activity

These have the lowest-to-no-sheen, and are the best at hiding imperfections.  Some brands claim that their flat paint product can be gently washed, but in our experience, we recommend an Eggshell or higher sheen if you are wanting any type of cleanable surface.  This is the best paint to choose if you are likely to do paint touch-up instead of washing your walls.
Beware:  this is an excellent choice for most interior walls, but if you have active children and pets – please think twice or will be repainting, often!

Overall tips:  All sheens can vary according to paint brands.  Touch-ups can also be easier when proper preparation has been done prior to painting.  Without proper preparation (prime/base coat) the paint can absorb into the surface, loosing much of its sheen and durability.

Remember:  the higher the sheen, the better durability!

Check out my post on “Sheen Painting Effects & Techniques”

You have your colors, now you are armed to pick your sheen!




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  1. jabaughman says

    if you have any questions regarding your upcoming painting project, just give us a call. We are always happy to answer homeowners questions.

  2. Phyllis says

    I plan on painting one of the rooms of my home in the next couple of weeks and this is information is quite valuable. Thank you for sharing your expertise!

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