How to Choose the Right Paint Sheen

When it comes to selecting paint for an interior project, color is not the only consideration. It’s also important to pick a sheen that will suit the function of the room.

Do you need a paint that will hide imperfections, or one that is highly washable? The right paint sheen for a given room will depend on both the condition of the walls and the amount of fingerprint contact the surface is likely to receive.

With several gradations between flat and high-gloss, it might seem difficult to tell the different sheens apart and know which applications each one is best for. This handy guide to the pros and cons of each paint sheen will help you figure out what to use for every room and surface in the house.

How to Choose the Right Paint SheenFlat: This type of paint has a matte appearance with no sheen. It offers great coverage for surfaces with imperfections and texture changes. However, it’s not for use in high-traffic, high-touch areas as it shows dirt and fingerprints and is not easily cleaned.

Eggshell: This type of paint is so named for its resemblance to the surface of an actual eggshell, which is mostly flat with a hint of sheen. It has a smoother finish that reflects more light as it hides imperfections. Eggshell paint is somewhat washable, but not as durable as satin or semigloss.

Satin: This type of paint has a silky sheen that reflects just enough light when applied to walls. It works well in kitchens, bathrooms, children's rooms, and hallways, and can be applied to woodwork and trim. It also stands up to grime and cleans well.

Semigloss: This type of paint has a shinier appearance than satin, reflecting between 35% and 50% of the light that hits it. It’s best for fingerprint-prone elements, such as trim, moldings, doors and cabinets, and also works in kitchens and bathrooms. It is durable and highly washable.

High-gloss: This type of paint has the highest shine of all. Use it for mudrooms, playrooms or other spaces where washability is a must. It’s very easy to clean, but shows every surface imperfection, so make sure walls are perfectly repaired and smooth before applying.

So, whether you need a paint that will hide a lumpy and bumpy ceiling, or one that can handle touchy treatment by sticky little hands, choosing the right sheen will help ensure a successful painting project that stands the test of time.

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