What Are Paint Sheens and What’s the Difference?June 29, 2023
If you’re unfamiliar with the nuances of paint sheen, you’ve come to the right place. In the broadest terms, the higher the sheen a paint has, the higher the shine and the more durable it will be. Flat paint has no shine, while high-gloss paint is all shine, and the rest of the spectrum includes matte, eggshell, satin, and semi-gloss, which can be used for practical and decorative purposes alike.
What’s a Paint Sheen?
The paint sheen tells you how much light the paint reflects. Paints with higher sheens are shinier, and paints with lower sheens reflect less light. Higher-sheen paints have more enamel in them, which makes them shinier, more durable, and easier to clean. Lower-sheen paints are easier to look at because they have little to no glare.
Why does it matter?
If chosen incorrectly, sheen can amplify surface imperfections, make a surface shinier (or flatter) than intended, or not provide enough durability for the space. Some sheens are easier to clean than others and can provide a barrier against moisture, mildew, and other grime.
The darker and richer a paint color is, the more colorant it contains, which boosts sheen. If you’ve chosen a rich or dark paint, and you don’t want it to turn out super shiny, choose one with a lower sheen. In the same vein, if painting a large, sun-washed, or flawed surface, a lower sheen paint is best for hiding imperfections.
What Are the Different Paint Sheen Types?
• High Gloss: A highly reflective, glass-like finish that’s most durable and easiest to clean.
• Semi-Gloss: A sleek and luminous finish that is mildew, moisture, and wear resistant.
• Satin: A pearl-like finish that’s easy to clean and has moderate durability.
• Eggshell: A soft, velvety finish that covers imperfections while offering some durability.
• Matte: A low-luster finish that’s less durable, but easy to clean, touches up well, and hides minor surface imperfections.
• Flat: A non-reflective finish that touches up well and can hide minor surface imperfections.
Where to Use Common Types of Sheen
The type of sheen you choose for a particular room or surface is up to you, and many types can work well for the same area, but you may choose one over another depending on how much traffic the room sees (durability), how prone to dirt or moisture it is, or simply the decorative look you’re going for. Here are some recommendations to help get you started.
• Kitchens: A high or semi-gloss finish in the kitchen ensures your surfaces are more durable and easier to clean.
• Dining Rooms: For moderate-traffic areas like dining rooms, an eggshell finish will provide smooth, clean-looking walls.
• Bedrooms: A flat or matte finish is recommended as these absorb light, which can make those bright mornings more bearable.
• Bathrooms: Semi-gloss is great at protecting surfaces without being too reflective.
• Living Rooms: A satin finish is your best bet. It’s easy to clean and can stand up to high traffic.
• Hallways: An eggshell finish that’s easy to clean and resists dirt and grime is perfect for these moderate-traffic areas.
• Ceilings: Ceiling flat sheens are designed for ceilings and are extra splatter resistant.
• Brick/Masonry: Satin or eggshell is perfect for highly textured surfaces like brick; a moderate shine can help to conceal imperfections while giving off a pleasing glow.
• Cabinets: The higher the gloss, the easier it will be to clean and care for your cabinets.
Always Prime Before You Paint
We always recommend using one of our professionally trusted primers to ensure your hard work turns out as beautifully as you intended. Primer provides adhesion for any paint you choose, covers stains, prevents chips, and blocks odors, and helps your topcoat perform its best while achieving the truest possible color. Our primers are made for every project, so choosing the best one for the job is easy.
Always remember to refer to our website kilz.com or product back labels for additional information on which primer is right for your project and detailed instructions on how to apply our products. Check out our Coverage Calculator to understand your estimated paint needs for your upcoming project.