November 17

Choosing a Paint Sheen


Many DIYers spend hours selecting the right paint color but give far less thought to their paint sheen. The sheen or finish of the paint measures how much light is reflected off a painted surface, resulting in gloss or a lack of gloss. Paint sheen impacts not only the initial appearance of a paint job but its washability and durability.

Leading paint brands come in numerous sheen levels, depending on the manufacturer. Most paint manufacturers offer helpful tips on choosing a paint finish or sheen, but it can be confusing. Sheens and glosses range from no shine to high shine. Different levels affect how colors appear and add dimension to a room. Understanding the performance and uses of different paint sheens can help you create the beautiful space you’ve always wanted.

Common Types of Interior Paint Sheens

Flat Paint

Flat paints do not reflect light, resulting in no sheen. The lack of reflection allows more paint pigment to create a uniform surface. Flat paint can mask imperfections and offers a flawless finish. Painting pros know that flat paints are ideal for ceilings and low-traffic areas. Use caution when considering using flat paint in high-traffic areas. Removing stains from low-sheen paint is harder, and constant rubbing and cleaning can result in burnishing.

Matte Paint

A matte finish is almost as shine-free as flat paint, providing excellent hide and depth of color but offering slightly more durability. Matte paint can also withstand frequent washing, even in busier areas like hallways, playrooms, and family rooms. Selecting a matte sheen gives a luxurious touch to most interior living spaces, including bedrooms and dining rooms. Look for specially formulated matte paints that achieve exceptional durability, color retention, and mildew resistance for high-humidity environments such as bathrooms.

Eggshell Paint

An eggshell finish has a low-sheen reminiscent of flat or matte. Still, it is infinitely more durable than its namesake. Eggshell paint provides a nearly shine-free finish that is easy to clean. Eggshell is ideal for most residential spaces, including family rooms and hallways. An eggshell finish reflects more light than flat or matte finishes creating a soft glow, and is an excellent choice for your favorite areas.

Pearl Paint

A pearl finish is a medium gloss finish that provides excellent durability making it a good choice for walls in high-traffic areas. Pearl paint sheens can be used everywhere, from walls to wainscoting and doors. Choose a pearl sheen that offers mildew resistance for high-humidity areas like bathrooms and laundry rooms. When choosing this finish, follow the manufacturer’s application directions carefully. Pearl sheens are more susceptible to showing lap marks and other painting flaws, so it takes considerable skill to apply.

Satin Paint

Satin delivers a higher gloss and has better stain resistance and durability than a lower-sheen gloss, including eggshell. A satin sheen is an ideal choice for areas that need definition. Satin is a favorite for windows, shutters, trim, and interior doors. In areas such as front doors, where architectural details like beveling and paneling are often found, consider choosing paint in a satin or soft gloss for a rich and lustrous look. Soft gloss paint is also in this category, and while not an exact match for satin paint, it offers a similar higher gloss, better-durability finish.

Semi-Gloss Paint

The luminous look of semi-gloss paint is ideally suited to highlight the architectural details of your home and create dimension on millwork, trim, and doors. Semi-gloss is available in a wide variety of interior colors. It dries to a smooth, furniture-like finish. Its glossy finish makes it a popular choice for kitchen cabinets. For semi-gloss to look smooth and even, the surface must be perfectly prepped, and the paint applied very carefully to avoid a streaky, uneven look.

High Gloss Paint

A high gloss paint creates a mirror-like finish. This finish is highly durable and offers elegant shine. It is easy to clean, stain-resistant, and adds a stunning look to doors, trims, and even a high-traffic kitchen. High gloss paint requires careful application and preparation that is best left to an experienced painter. If you’re committed to a DIY approach, practice your technique and carefully prime all surfaces to ensure they are even and clean before paint application. Gloss finishes reflect light and can accentuate blemishes, so it is best to avoid applying it on surfaces that are not entirely smooth.

Trust the Local Painting Professionals

The benefits of hiring a professional paint contractor are numerous. Save time, energy, and money by hiring an experienced painting company. By hiring local painting professionals, you’ll benefit from their expertise and support your local community at the same time. 

Mr. Mole’s Painting LLC offers interior and exterior painting services for commercial and residential properties. We provide a full range of commercial painting services for properties of all sizes. We provide in-person and virtual quotes for your convenience. Contact us at (218) 368-2560 to discuss your next painting project. We look forward to working with you.


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