What Paint Sheen Should I Use?

Once you have finished with all of the complicated questions of color choice, paint brand, and VOC content, you are still left with one more decision: what sheen of paint should I use inside my home? Depending on the brand you buy, there are a wide variety of sheens available, including flat, satin, eggshell, matte, semi-gloss and (high) gloss. Each of these paint sheens has different properties of performance and appearance, so it can be tricky to choose the best one. Here are a few of the considerations and recommendations for where to use each paint sheen:

Flat: This has no light-reflectiveness, which means that it is good for hiding imperfections on a wall. It is not very washable, so it should not be used in high-traffic locations. Also it is not for use in wet or humid rooms. Most professional painters recommend using flat paints on ceilings, in closets and in laundry rooms.

Eggshell: With the faintest of a paint sheen, eggshell is close to flat. The main advantage it has is that it has stronger resistance to scrubbing, making it a better choice for the walls in kids’ rooms, foyers and hallways.

Satin: This sheen, as the name implies, is smooth and velvety, with slight reflectiveness. It starts to show imperfections a little more, so surface preparation before painting is much more important. Satin is a good choice for most walls in the home, including bathrooms, kitchens, bedrooms, living rooms and dining rooms.

Semi-gloss: This sheen has a fairly resistant surface, making it a good, washable choice for kitchen cabinets, doors and chair rail. Also, the reflective sheen is a great way to draw attention to details like crown molding, baseboards, mantles and window frames.

Gloss, or High-gloss: This super-shiny finish is so reflective that it can look almost like plastic. It is typically reserved for high-end kitchen cabinets or other high-quality showcase items. It should be used sparingly.

Designing the perfect interior takes a blend of taste, intuition and experience. Many homeowners have great taste and intuition, but lack the extensive experience that an established painting contractor can provide. As you make your color and sheen choices, it is wise to contact a professional house painter, who can advise you on how different products and colors will look in your individual space.