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Choosing The Right Sheen

Updated: Apr 19

Paint Sheen

The sheen is the degree of luster or gloss that is in the paint. The more the gloss, the more the paint shines and reflects light. Picking the correct sheen for your project can make a significant impact on the durability, washability, and overall look of the finished product. Choosing the right sheen may also depend on the condition of the walls you are painting. If the walls are old and have imperfections, then a glossier paint sheen would reflect and accentuate all the imperfections. Whereas, a more matte sheen would hide the imperfection a lot better.

The biggest reason customers pick a glossier sheen is for washability. It is much easier to clean and wipe down the walls or surface when the paint has a glossy sheen. This is why kitchens, bathrooms, doors, cabinets, molding, etc. are usually done in semi gloss. On the other hand, when someone touches a matte surface with dirty hands, it will be difficult to wash and remove it from the paint.

Generally, ceilings are always done in a flat/matte sheen. This is because ceilings reflect the most light from windows and light fixtures. When the ceilings are matte, they will have a smooth, clean finish without reflecting streaks and any imperfections. You usually don't need to worry about washability for ceilings because they never get touched. The few exceptions to this are kitchen and bathroom ceilings. These ceilings are generally done in a glossier sheen for washability and prevention of mold from the shower.

Unfortunately, there is not a universal scale and labeling of sheens among paint products and companies. Some companies have different names for the same amount of luster in a paint (ex. low sheen- eggshell, pearl- satin). With that said, here is a general scale of paint sheens from low to high luster:

- Flat/Matte

- Eggshell

- Satin

- Semi-gloss

- High gloss

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