Paint Sheen Types 101

Paint Sheen

Paint “sheen” refers to how glossy the paint is, an especially important factor for interior paints. The glossier the paint, the shinier it is and the easier it will reflect light (along with a few other differences). Any can of interior paint will clearly say which type of gloss it has – but how do you know what to pick?

If you aren’t that worried about gloss, that’s okay! You can often get by with the same gloss throughout your house, as long as you find a sheen you like. But for active houses and homes that are using a number of different paint colors, gloss can be a more important factor. Here’s a quick guide to help you out.

High Gloss: Kitchens, Windows, and Doors

High gloss paints are more reflective, and may help brighten a room depending on the paint color that you choose. However, high gloss paints have another advantage as well: That gloss makes them particularly easy to clean off compared to other paints, and stains won’t seep into the paint as readily if an accident happens. That makes these paints well-suited for kitchens, where you may need to clean off spills or evaporated oils from the walls. It’s also a good choice for windows and doors, where wiping off fingerprints becomes much easier.

Semi-Gloss: Kitchens, Bathrooms, Trim, Chair Rails

Semi-gloss paints have some of the benefits of high gloss paints, but aren’t quite as shiny. This is a very versatile paint option that looks great in many shades and can also be cleaned easily when necessary. Think about using it in your kitchen or bathroom. It’s also a good choice for chairs, trim and similar painting projects.

Satin: Family Rooms and Foyers, Kid’s Rooms

Satin tends to be the most popular interior paint choice, and fits a wide variety of applications while looking great. You can clean satin paint, but you can’t really scrub at it like you can high-gloss paints without risking damage. That makes it suitable for areas that might need occasional cleaning, but aren’t exactly high-traffic, like family rooms, foyers, and kid’s room (well, depending on your kids, of course).

Eggshell: Dining Rooms, Living Rooms

Eggshell paints aren’t reflective and have a more subdued appearance. They’re also more difficult to clean than glossier paints, but they tend to look great in certain shades and remain a very popular choice for interior paints. Choose these paints for areas that may rarely need to be cleaned, but it’s not usually needed. Dining rooms and living rooms are good choices for this level of luster. Avoid areas where the walls get touched frequently or bumped against on a regular basis.

Flat or Matte: Adult Bedrooms and Similar Areas

The lowest gloss paints are flat or matte — a latex paint that’s very classy and quiet. The lack of any luster makes these paints good for quiet, private areas, like adult bedrooms.

Do you have more questions about what types of paint to use around your home? Just let us know! We would be glad to give you a free in-home quote!