How to Choose the Right Paint Sheen

paint sheen

When it comes to repainting your home, homeowners often overlook the significance of choosing the right sheen for their interior spaces. It’s all about choosing the perfect color, right? Well, not entirely. There are several things to consider when choosing the perfect interior paint sheen. Let’s dive in!

Factors to consider when choosing paint sheen

  • The condition of your walls – are they in tip-top shape or are there gauges and imperfections you’d like to hide as much as possible?
    • For walls that are in great shape- any sheen will work!
    • For walls that have seen better days- flat and matte or eggshell will hide and minimize imperfections better.
  • Natural lighting in each room. If the space in consideration has a good amount of natural light, you’ll want to stay away from glossier finishes as they reflect light much more than flat and matte finishes. For spaces with little to no natural light, utilizing glossy finishes will help make the room feel larger and brighter.
  • Durability – do you plan on leaving your new paint on your walls for years to come? Or are you someone who enjoys changing up your paint every few years? If durability and longevity are important to you – glossier finishes tend to be the most durable and hold up the best over time. The basic rule of thumb to follow when choosing paint sheens in terms of durability: the higher the sheen, the higher the shine – and the higher the shine, the more durable it will be.

The 5 interior paint sheens, explained:

  • High-Gloss
    • Key characteristics: the most durable of all the sheens, the most light-reflecting, tends to be the easiest to clean, and the shiniest.
    • Best suited for: very high traffic areas that are touched constantly (think kitchen cabinets, doors, and trim).
    • Not best suited for: interior walls as it tends to be too shiny.
  • Semi-Gloss
    • Key characteristics: shiny and sleek look, stands up well to moisture and humidity, highly reflective of light, and easy to clean.
    • Best suited for: bathrooms, laundry rooms, mud rooms, doors and trim (due to its durability and high resistance to moisture).
    • Not best suited for: surfaces with imperfections, cracks, and chips as it will only bring more attention to them.
  • Satin
    • Key characteristics: slightly shiny appearance, velvety look, durable, moderately reflective of light, and easy to clean.
    • Best suited for: higher traffic areas such as kitchens, bathrooms, and kids rooms (hello, sticky fingers!). Satin is a solid choice for windows, doors, trim, and ceilings. If you are looking for a slight shine and your walls are in good shape, satin is also a great option for interior walls.
    • Not best suited for: walls or areas with imperfections as there is still enough shine in satin that it will highlight them.
  • Eggshell
    • Key characteristics: not shiny, but not completely flat – there is just enough gloss to make the finished paint job “pop”. Eggshell is easier to clean than flat or matte surfaces and disguises imperfections well.
    • Best suited for: living rooms, dining rooms, bedrooms, and any space that does not receive high amounts of traffic or dirt buildup. However, because it tends to be easy to clean as long as dirt and stains aren’t left unattended for long periods of time, eggshell can be used in virtually any interior space. Andrew Baker, owner of Better Painting, says “eggshell is the sheen I most commonly recommend to clients and homeowners. It’s a good middle ground when it comes to hiding imperfections while also leaving a high-quality finish.”
    • Not best suited for: very high traffic areas and areas that might need frequent touch ups.
  • Flat
    • Key characteristics: covers flaws and blemishes better than any other sheen, it’s completely non-reflective of light, and tends to be the easiest to touch up.
    • Best suited for: walls or surfaces with cracks, scratches, gauges, or stains and low traffic areas.
    • Not best suited for: high traffic areas or areas that need to be cleaned often.

Choosing a high-quality product is key, regardless of the finish

Now that you’re an expert in paint finishes, lets talk about which product is best. While there are many great products on the market, we recommend The Duration®Family by Sherwin-Williams. This collection is our paint of choice at Better Painting and is included in all of our estimates, unless otherwise discussed. We have chosen this product because of its superior stain blocking abilities, washability, moisture resistance, and long-lasting performance. Duration Home Interior Acrylic Latex paint is available in four sheens: flat, satin, matte, and semi-gloss. “Duration is an amazing product that I am always confident recommending. The matte finish covers well and is washable making it the most suitable sheen for most homeowners” says Andrew, owner of Better Painting.

Duration Sherwin-Williams
Image from Sherwin-Williams

When asked about the Duration brand, Daniel Jaeger, Commercial Coatings Representative for The Sherwin-Williams Company says “I’ve used this in my home, due to the product’s outstanding coverage and durability.  It has outstanding scrubbability/washability and it repels stains.  This is important because it maintains its appearance longer than most paints, and touch up needs are limited.  It also has excellent moisture resistance and is a good choice for any bathrooms. It’s self-priming and environmentally friendly (low vocs) and I would recommend putting this product in anyone’s home. For the sheen selection, it comes in a flat, matte, satin and semi-gloss.  It has a washable flat to achieve maximum hide and minimize surface perfections, while still offering washability and burnish resistance.”

You’ve chosen the perfect sheen and product, what about color?

It can be easy to quickly choose your paint color or overlook variables that will directly affect how your space looks and feels once the walls, cabinets, doors, or furniture is freshly painted. How will that paint color co-exist with your furniture, current lighting, and decor? Will it compliment your space or end up clashing? How about color psychology? With so many things to consider, wouldn’t it be nice if you had an expert to help guide you in the right direction? We can help! At Better Painting, we are committed to offering our clients innovative, valuable services that you will not find elsewhere. We are excited to now offer our clients a complimentary 2 hour paint color consulting session with our professional interior designer, Teah! This exciting offer is available to any client that signs a contract for $4,000 or more on their interior and/or exterior project. Teah will educate, guide, and energize you while helping you choose the perfect colors and products.

Check out Sherwin-Williams top 50 best selling paint colors

We hope this post has been educational and hopefully now you feel like a paint sheen and color expert! If you have an interior or exterior paint project (including limewash) in mind to tackle, request a free estimate! Most reputable companies, including us, are booked out at least several weeks if not months, so getting your project on the books now will save you disappointment later! We can’t wait to get started!

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