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  • Carlton Clark

Paint Sheen: The Types And Best Choices

When it comes to painting, you choose the color, the type of paint, and whether you need interior or exterior paint, but how often do you think of the sheen?

Did you know there are five types of sheen?

At your disposal is matte, eggshell, satin, semi-gloss, and high-gloss. But which one is right for your next paint job? Don’t worry, we have you covered. We have compiled everything you need to know about each type of sheen, so you can decide which sheen matches the job.


When we think of sheen, we can think of it as a shininess scale—how much the light is reflected off the surface. At one end of the spectrum, we have matte. Matte paint will not reflect light, and this has three main benefits.

The first is that it does not reflect the light. If you have a wall that has some superficial damage, blemishes, or anything else you want to hide, matte paint will help you to hide that. It won’t fill dents and dings or cover damage, but the light won’t reflect differently over an uneven surface and highlight what you want to hide.

Matte paint is also the most economical. It has more pigment in the paint, which translates to more coverage per paint can. More coverage means less time painting and going to the store for more paint, and less paint means less money spent.

The third reason to paint with matte is if you like the finish. You might have seen cars on the road with a matte finish instead of a high-gloss shine and liked the look. Go for matte paint if you want a duller finish (in a good way).

Matte paint does not have the best durability, so you will not use this on the exterior of your home or high-traffic interior walls. It is best used to cover damaged walls or walls that might become damaged, like a kid’s playroom.


Think of an egg, grab one from your fridge, and imagine or look at the finish of the shell. The reason eggshell is named eggshell is because the finish is the same. An eggshell finish is mostly matte but with a little sheen to it.

Eggshell will also help you cover up damaged walls, soak up damage after painting, and offer a little shine.

Again, it doesn’t have high durability, so you won’t be using this in high-traffic areas, but it is excellent for rooms that are used a lot, like a dining room.


Satin sits in the center of the spectrum. Think of satin or velvet, and the finish is the same, but not only that, it’s about how it transforms a wall—you will get a velvety-smooth finish with some shine to it.

Satin has excellent durability, and it is easy to clean. However, unlike matte and eggshell, it will show the flaws in a wall, and if it is in a high-traffic area, you might have problems touching up the paintwork later.

This is an excellent interior paint for bedrooms and family rooms, rooms that will not get scuffed, and rooms to which you want to add a touch of class. It is also great for commercial painting. The paint is not super-expensive, and it adds elegance to a space. Use it in foyers or showrooms if you want to accentuate your brand.


Semi-gloss is high on the sheen scale but not quite at the top. When deciding between semi- and high-gloss, the decision often comes down to personal preference with the finish.

Semi-gloss can resists moisture and drips, so it is a good choice for bathrooms and kitchens, but it is more commonly used for trim and fixtures instead of walls. It has high durability, so you don’t need to clean or refinish it often, and commercial kitchen workers love it as it can hold up to grease stains and still be cleaned easily.

Use this type of paint to protect surfaces and accentuate them. Great for residential and commercial areas that will take some abuse and must be wiped every so often.


High-gloss paint is at the top end of the sheen spectrum. When we think of gloss, we think of shine, which has the highest shine of all the paint types on the list. For this reason, you would not typically use this type of finish for interior walls—they would have too much shine, and it does not typically add to a wall unless you are creating a feature wall that needs a shiny finish.

The best thing about high-gloss paint is that it is very durable. It can take a lot of abuse and remain easy to clean. For this reason, it is the perfect paint for fixtures in your kitchen, especially if you have small children with sticky fingers around (or for chefs in a commercial kitchen). It is used in commercial kitchens a lot as it can be wiped easily at the end-of-day clean-down.

Just be careful what you are painting with high-gloss paint if there are a lot of lights, it will reflect all of that light. And preparation is essential when getting ready to paint. Matte paint will hide blemishes and superficial damage, but high-gloss paint will accentuate them. When you are ready to paint with high-gloss, be sure you have spent time on the wall first to eliminate bumps, scratches, and other blemishes.

Understanding the differences between the different sheens is relatively simple, and knowing how each looks, where they should be used, and the durability will help you match the right paint to your next project. If you do it right the first time, it will last for years.

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