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When you are painting your home, there are so many different choices that make it daunting – I’m here to help! Maybe you’ve already found the perfect paint colours, but now you need to pick a paint sheen! Sharing all you need to know about paint sheens and what sheen to use on what part of your house.
Estimated reading time: 9 minutes
What is a paint sheen?
A paint sheen refers to the glossiness or shininess of a paint finish. Different sheens will produce varying levels of reflection when applied to a surface, affecting the overall look and feel of a painted space.
The different types of paint sheens:
The perfect sheen of paint for your home will depend on your personal preferences and the specific room or area you are painting. Here are some general guidelines to help you choose:
Save this helpful diagram for later:
Flat paint has a matte, non-glossy finish, which makes it ideal for covering walls and ceilings as it won’t reflect light, helping to conceal any imperfections. It’s also a great pick for easy touch-ups and can be wiped clean without losing its finish. However, it’s not as resilient as higher sheen paints and may not be suitable for areas that will receive a lot of wear and tear or regular cleaning.
Use: Ceilings. Walls in low-traffic spaces.
Matte paint sheen is similar to flat paint sheen, providing a non-glossy, non-reflective finish. This makes it a great choice for walls and ceilings as it won’t reflect light and can help conceal any surface flaws. Like flat paint, matte paint is also very easy to touch up and can be wiped down without losing its finish.
Use: Walls in low-traffic spaces such as Living Room, Dining Room, and Bedroom
Eggshell paint sheen gives walls a slightly glossy, eggshell-like appearance. It’s a popular choice since it’s more resilient and easier to clean than flat paint while still providing a soft look that isn’t too shiny.
Use: Walls in mid- to high-traffic spaces such as Living Room, Dining Room, and Bedroom.
Satin paint sheen gives your walls a slightly glossy, soft and velvety finish. It’s more durable than eggshell and great for high-traffic spaces because it’s simple to clean.
Use: Walls in high-traffic spaces such as Bathrooms, Kitchens, Hallways, and Kid rooms.
Pearl paint sheen is somewhere between a satin and a semi-gloss sheen, and it is more durable and easier to clean than paints with a flat or matte finish.
Use: Walls in high-traffic spaces. Trim, Doors, & Cabinets.
Semi-gloss paint sheen offers an attractive, bright shine that is less reflective than gloss paint. It is a great option for trim, doors, and windows, as it can handle regular wear and tear. Plus, due to its resistance to moisture and mildew, semi-gloss paint is also a great choice for walls in areas with higher humidity levels. One of the biggest benefits of semi-gloss paint is that it is more durable and easier to clean than paints with a flat or matte finish.
Use: Bathroom Walls, Trim, Doors, and Wainscotting.
If you’re looking for durability and easy cleaning, you’ll love high-gloss paint sheen! Not only is it the most durable and easiest to clean of all the paint sheens, but it’s also a great choice for trim, doors, and windows. And, since surfaces such as kitchen and bathroom cabinets are subject to frequent cleanings, this paint sheen is ideal! Remember that it’s not as forgiving when it comes to touch-ups, as brush marks and other imperfections will be more visible on a high-gloss surface.
Use: Trim, Doors, Cabinets, and Wainscotting.
Best Sheen for Trim
Choosing the right trim paint sheen depends on your project’s specific needs and lifestyle. The three main types of sheen for trim are Pearl, Semi-Gloss and High-Gloss.
Here are some factors to consider when choosing a paint sheen for trim:
- Durability: Trim is subjected to more wear and tear than walls, so paint with a higher sheen, such as semi-gloss or high-gloss, may be more durable and easier to clean.
- Paint Finish: If you want a sleek, modern look, high-gloss paint may be the best choice. A satin or semi-gloss paint may be better if you prefer a softer, more subtle finish.
Best Paint Finish for a Bathroom
When decorating the bathroom, glossy or semi-gloss paint is a great choice. It’s especially durable and easy to clean, two important qualities in this high-moisture space. Not only that, but it also resists mould and mildew growth better than matte or eggshell finishes. So, if you want a long-lasting paint job, glossy or semi-gloss paint is the way to go!
If you like the matte or eggshell look, you can use it in your bathroom. However, you’ll need extra effort to keep the walls clean and dry. Just remember that it may need more maintenance to keep it looking great.
In my bathroom, I had an issue above the shower where the paint was peeling. This is partly due to the fan not working as well as it should. I could sand and patch this ceiling area and use a bathroom primer to resist mould and mildew. Then, I used tinted bathroom paint that was a gloss finish to repaint the ceiling. Learn more here.
Best Paint Finish for Living Room
Choosing paint with a satin or eggshell finish is usually preferable for a living room. This type of paint has a slightly shiny effect, which is more durable and easier to clean than a flat or matte finish – perfect for a living room that sees a lot of activity. Additionally, satin or eggshell paint can help prevent the build-up of dirt and grime, which is often a concern in a busy space.
If you love the look of a flat or matte finish for your living room wall, no problem! Just remember to take extra care to keep it dust and fingerprint-free. It may need some maintenance to keep it looking its best, but it’ll be worth it in the end.
Best Paint Sheen for Kitchen
For your kitchen, choosing a semi-gloss or satin paint is recommended. This kind of paint has a glossy finish that is strong, easy to clean and tolerates moisture and a lot of foot traffic. A semi-gloss or gloss paint will also prevent the growth of mould and mildew, along with being capable of withstanding regular cleanings.
If you have a backsplash in your kitchen above your countertop, you don’t have to stress as much about moisture and dirt, so an eggshell finish should work fine. But I’d suggest using a higher gloss finish if you don’t have a backsplash.
Kitchen Ceiling Paint Sheen
It is generally best to use paint with a flat or matte finish on the ceiling. These types of paint have a non-reflective finish that is good at hiding imperfections and will not produce a glare when the light is on.
Best Paint Sheen for Kitchen Cabinets
The sheen of paint you choose for your kitchen cabinets can greatly impact the overall look of the space. Here are a few options to consider:
- Pearl Finish: This finish has a medium sheen and is a good all-around choice for kitchen cabinets. It is easy to clean and is resistant to stains and scratches.
- Semi-gloss and high-gloss finish: This finish has a very shiny and reflective surface, which can make a bold statement in a kitchen. However, it is more prone to showing fingerprints and scratches and may be more difficult to touch up.