Homeowners who are painting their houses are often bewildered by the number of choices they need to make. What brand of paint should I choose? What color should I get? Do I need Low-VOC or Zero-VOC paint? And after all of the other choices, they still are left wondering, “What paint sheen should I use?”
Most brands of paint have flat, satin, eggshell, semi-gloss and gloss paint finishes. Some also have matte or other varieties. Each of these has a different amount of reflectiveness, also called shine, sheen or gloss. The reasons for these are not just personal preference—one person prefers gloss and another prefers flat. No, the truth is that each type of sheen has a purpose and is designed for specific purposes.
Flat: This paint has no reflectiveness, absorbing light rather than bouncing it back. The advantage of this is that it is excellent for hiding flaws in the surface. This makes it good for use on walls that have surface flaws or irregularities. It is also a popular choice for ceilings, whether they are white or colored. Because flat paint is neither water-resistant nor scrubbable, it is not a great choice for rooms prone to steamy or wet conditions, or rooms where the walls will need washing.
Eggshell: As the name implies, this sheen is about as glossy as an eggshell (which isn’t much). Slightly more reflective than flat, this finish still hides flaws fairly well, but will stand up better against dirt, scrubbing and water. It is a good choice for halls and entryways, laundry rooms and kids’ rooms.
Satin: This paint finish has a medium sheen, providing a pleasant reflectiveness for dining and living rooms, master bedrooms. Because it is fairly water-resistant and washable, it is good for kitchens and bathrooms. In most cases, this is the most gloss you would want on your walls.
Semi-Gloss: Quite reflective, semi-gloss sheen draws attention to itself. It is very washable, but also very prone to highlight flaws and imperfections. This finish is best used on trim, baseboards, doors, cabinets, crown, chair rail and similar features.
Gloss: With a shiny finish nearly resembling lunch-box plastic, this finish is rarely used in the home. Sometimes it is good for high/end cabinets or special features of the home that are intended to draw attention to themselves.
If you have any other questions about paint sheen, Brennan’s Custom Painting would be happy to answer. As a reputable painting contractor, we have applied these sheens in hundreds of homes, and we can advise you on how they will look and perform in various areas of your home.