When the time comes to paint any room in your home, the colour is not the only thing to be decided.  Choosing the right paint finish also needs to be taken into consideration as it will determine how the room will look in the end.

Would it bother you to see the paint colour on one wall look a lighter or darker shade from the other wall in the same room, we would guess it would be a yes. Would it bother you that the wall shines like a glass mirror when the sunlight or any lighting reflects off of it, again we would guess it is a yes.  These are issues that could arise and a decision every home owner, or DIY painter needs to make.  Picking out a paint finish or sheen is an important decision before buying any paint.

This gets us started on explaining what is a paint sheen or finish.painting of hallway corridor with eggshell paint finish by house painters in Ottawa PG Paint & Design

What Is Paint

Paint is a liquid coating material that is applied as a liquid and dries as a solid and is used for both protective and decorative purposes.  As a protector it protects wood on any exterior and on the interior it decorates the walls we live within.   Reports have it that paint was one of mankinds earliest inventions with reports of found drawings in caves over 40,000 years ago.

Paint Sheen or Finishes

Paint sheen or finish refers to the amount of light that the paint will reflect from its surface.  When starting a home painting project it is important to decide on which paint sheen or finish you prefer for painting the walls, the trim, baseboards and ceilings.

The reason it is important as to which you choose is because although it is a personal choice, you have to take into consideration how much reflection you want from the painted surface.  When you look at a painted wall where the sunlight or daylight shine in will it bother you to see a glass mirror like reflection from a gloss or semi gloss paint finish or would you rather see no shine from a flat or matte or eggshell finish.  The right paint finish or sheen is affected by lighting in any room whether it is natural or artificial lighting.

What is Paint Sheen

Paint Sheen means how shiny the paint will look once it is painted onto the surface.  Think about the conditions of the walls that will be painted. Also consider whether the room you are painting is a high or low traffic area. Using a quality paint primer will ensure you get the best adhesion of the final coat of paint.

What is Paint Finish

Paint finish refers to how the paint will dry and is much the same as sheen.  One thing to remember is that the higher the sheen such as semi-gloss or high-gloss then the higher the shine will be on your walls and the more visible imperfections after painting will show up.

Flat paint has little to no shine and high-gloss is the ultimate of shines. When choosing somewhere in between those two there is the eggshell, satin or semi-gloss. They are all good durable and easily maintained paint finishes.

Here are a few tips when choosing a right paint finish or sheen for your house painting project.

Flat Paint Finish

Flat or matte paint is best used on surfaces requiring less frequent washing. The FLAT finish paint conceals most flaws and makes the Flat finish a better choice for older walls. FLAT/MATTE finish is ideal for dining and living, bedrooms and closets.

interior paint colour beige in eggshell paint finish

Semi-Gloss Paints

Semi-gloss is durable as well as washable. With a slight visible shine it is ideal for trim, baseboards, woodwork or cabinetry. Semi-gloss paint finish is recommended for high moisture areas because of the easy cleanup, just make sure to ask for a mildew resistant formula for these high moisture areas. Best used in Kitchens and bathrooms.

Satin Paint Finish

Satin paint finish is very easy to keep clean again with just a damp cloth and can also handle soap if required.

Gloss Paint Finish

A Gloss Paint gives you the highest level of shine and durability. For the trim, baseboards, doors or other architectural elements you’d like highlighted this would be the finish choice.

Gloss paint is very durable and can take on more dirt and elbow grease to remove the dirt afterwards. It is the strongest finish but also the shiniest.

gossamer blue paint colour in gloss finish for interior painting of walls or ceiling

Eggshell Paint Finish

Eggshell paint finish is the most popular used paint finish and is one of the easiest for maintenance.  With the simple wipe of a damp cloth and mild dish soap it is easy to remove dirt or grease. It is recommended for rooms such as family room, dining and living rooms where there is some traffic and the easy maintenance of the eggshell finish will be helpful.

Although this post has mostly covered the topic of interior paint finishes, exterior paints are also sold in flat or matte, eggshell, satin, semi-gloss, and gloss finish and makes all the difference when painting the exterior area of your house such as the front door.  Use high quality paint products when choosing the perfect paint colour and finish to make the main attraction of your house stand out with the best curb appeal.

When trying to choose a paint finish and are not quite sure refer to a painting company  as it can prove helpful in guiding you through the different types of paints and finishes that are best suitable for your interior or exterior painting project.

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This post was originally published Apr 24, 2017 and edited Mar 21, 2020