A Guide to Paint Sheens: Which One Is Right for You?

Paint Sheens

When it comes to painting your home, choosing the right paint sheens for your project is as important as selecting the perfect colors. Paint sheen, also known as paint finish, influences the look, durability, and maintenance of your painted surfaces.

In this guide, we’ll explore the various paint sheens and help you determine which one is the best fit for your home improvement project.

Understanding Paint Sheens

Before diving into the specific types of paint sheens, it’s essential to understand what they are. Paint sheen refers to the level of gloss or shine in a paint finish. Different sheens have unique characteristics and are suitable for different applications.

Flat Paint (Matte Finish)


  • Hides imperfections well.
  • Provides a velvety, non-reflective finish.
  • Ideal for ceilings and walls in low-traffic areas.


  • Prone to staining.
  • Difficult to clean.
  • Not suitable for high-traffic areas or rooms with high moisture levels.

Flat paint, also known as matte finish, is perfect for spaces where you want to hide imperfections and achieve a soft, elegant look. It’s commonly used in bedrooms, dining rooms, and living rooms. However, it’s not recommended for areas that are prone to splashes or heavy wear and tear.

Eggshell Paint


  • Offers a subtle, soft sheen.
  • More washable and durable than flat paint.
  • Suitable for moderate-traffic areas like bedrooms, hallways, and living rooms.


  • May show imperfections in the wall surface.
  • Not the best choice for high-moisture areas.

Eggshell paint strikes a balance between the matte finish of flat paint and the shine of higher-sheen options. It’s a popular choice for areas that see moderate foot traffic, as it’s easier to clean than flat paint while still providing a subdued sheen.

Satin Paint


  • Has a gentle, silky sheen.
  • Resistant to mildew and easy to clean.
  • Suitable for kitchens, bathrooms, and kids’ rooms.


  • May reveal surface imperfections.
  • Not as durable as higher-sheen paints.

Satin paint offers a subtle shine that’s easy to clean, making it a great choice for rooms that are exposed to moisture and frequent use. It’s often used in kitchens, bathrooms, and children’s bedrooms, where easy cleaning is a priority.

Semi-Gloss Paint


  • Provides a noticeable sheen and reflects light.
  • Highly durable and easy to clean.
  • Excellent for high-traffic areas, trim, and furniture.


  • May highlight imperfections on walls.
  • Not suitable for concealing surface flaws.

Semi-gloss paint is known for its high durability and shiny finish. It’s a top choice for high-traffic areas, trim, baseboards, and furniture. However, it’s less forgiving when it comes to hiding wall imperfections.

Gloss Paint


  • Offers a bright, reflective sheen.
  • Highly resistant to wear and moisture.
  • Ideal for surfaces that require frequent cleaning, such as doors, cabinets, and trim.


  • Not suitable for hiding surface flaws.
  • May be too shiny for some spaces, such as bedrooms or living rooms.

Gloss paint, with its high reflectivity, is the most durable and easiest to clean among the paint sheens. It’s commonly used on surfaces that need to withstand regular scrubbing and moisture, such as doors, cabinets, and window trim.

shopping paint sheensChoosing the Right Paint Sheens

When deciding on the right paint sheen, consider the room’s purpose, the level of activity it sees, and the overall aesthetic you want to achieve. Here are a few key questions to ask yourself:

  • What is the room’s function? Bedrooms and living rooms benefit from softer sheens like flat, eggshell, or satin. Kitchens and bathrooms require more durable options like semi-gloss or gloss.
  • How often is the space used? High-traffic areas demand more resilient finishes.
  • Do you have kids or pets? Areas frequented by children and animals often need easy-to-clean sheens.
  • What is your aesthetic preference? Consider the look you want to create – whether it’s a soft, elegant finish or a glossy, vibrant appearance.


The choice of paint sheen plays a significant role in the appearance, durability, and maintenance of your painted surfaces. Assess your specific needs and preferences to determine the most suitable paint sheen for each room in your home. A well-informed decision can lead to a successful and visually pleasing home improvement project.

Our professional team of experts are always available to guide you in your decision-making process. Don’t hesitate to contact us for expert guidance. Our painting supply partner, Sherwin-Williams also has this great video that you might also find helpful.

FAQs About Paint Sheens

Q1: Can I apply different paint sheens in the same room? A1: Yes, it’s possible to use different sheens to create focal points or highlight architectural features within a single space.

Q2: Is it necessary to prime the surface before applying paint with a higher sheen? A2: In most cases, it’s a good idea to prime the surface to ensure good adhesion, especially when switching to a higher-sheen paint.

Q3: What is the best paint sheen for exterior surfaces? A3: Semi-gloss or gloss sheen is suitable for painting exterior surfaces like doors, windows, and trim because of their durability and moisture resistance.

Q4: Can I change the sheen of my existing painted walls without repainting them entirely? A4: It’s generally not recommended, as changing the sheen may result in an uneven appearance. Repainting with the desired sheen is the better option.

Q5: How do I clean painted surfaces with different sheens? A5: Use a mild detergent and warm water for cleaning most paint sheens. For semi-gloss and gloss finishes, you can be more thorough with cleaning and scrubbing.

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