Would it bother you to see that the paint colour you just painted onto a wall looks lighter or darker, or would it annoy you that there’s a shine that reflects off the paint colour that you really were not expecting.

These are issues that could arise if you are not sure about what a paint sheen or paint finish is or why it actually matters before buying paint for your next interior painting project.interior painting of hallway entrance in eggshell paint finish

Paint sheen or finish refers to the amount of light that the paint will reflect from the surface.

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.

It helps protect wood from any mold, rot on any interior and exterior painting along with maintaining the beauty of any of the wood.

What is Paint Sheen

Paint sheen simply means how shiny or glossy the paint will look once it is painted and completely dry on any surface.

When deciding you should consider the conditions of the walls, and the purpose of the area you will be painting to choose the best paint sheen.  It’s also important to use a quality paint primer to ensure you get the best adhesion of the paint.

What is Paint Finish

Paint finish refers to how the paint will dry onto the surface.  Remember that the higher the sheen the higher the shine reflection will be and the more visible any imperfections on the walls or ceilings will be.

Different Types Of Paint Finishes and Sheens

There are five common paint sheens or finishes referred to in the painting industry and choosing the right one will make the difference between in how lighting affects paint colour.

The light reflectance value or LRV plays an important role in your selection to help you see how artificial and natural lighting and paint colour is affected by the level of sheen or gloss you choose in your paint finish.

Here are a few tips to help you choose the right paint finish or sheen for your next DIY painting project.

Flat Paint Finish

Flat or matte paint finish is best used on surfaces requiring less frequent washing.  It conceals many flaws and imperfections on the walls or ceilings.  The flat or matte sheen is a good choice for painting dining and living, bedrooms and closets.

Eggshell Paint Finish

Eggshell paint finish is the most popular used paint finish and is one of the easiest to maintain.  Eggshell sheen is easy to clean with a simple wipe of a damp cloth and mild dish soap.  Using an eggshell finish is recommended for rooms such as open concept areas like entrance hallways,  family rooms and dining and living rooms.
sample of eggshell paint finish

Satin Paint Finish

Satin paint finish gives a slightly higher gloss level than the eggshell yet is more stain resistant and durable than the lower sheens like flat or matte.  It is best used on exterior areas such as window shutters, front doors and can also be used to highlight interior doors.

Semi-Gloss Paint Finish

Semi-gloss paint sheen gives off a slight visible shine yet is a very durable and easily washable type of finish.  It is ideal to use a semi-gloss paint finish for painting trim, baseboards, and any other woodwork or cabinetry.

Semi-gloss paint finish is recommended for high moisture areas such as kitchens and bathrooms as they are easy to maintain and clean as well as help provide protection again any mold or mildew buildup.  It is best to use a mildew resistant paint for these areas.

High Gloss Paint Finish

A high gloss paint finish is at the top level of extreme durability and shine giving you that mirror-like finish.  It is stain-resistant and easy to clean and adds the perfect finish to doors, trim and a highly trafficked kitchen or bathrooms.

This high gloss sheen will reflect the most light and will accentuate all imperfections or flaws and because they are so shiny it is not recommended to paint any ceilings or accent focal walls unless you are careful with the preparation and application of it, which is typically left for the best painters to do.  If you decide that you are going to take the DIY approach make sure you prime all surfaces to ensure the best paint adhesion.

sample of gloss paint finish

Both interior paints and exterior paints are sold in flat or matte, eggshell, satin, semi-gloss, and gloss finish and choosing the perfect one for any area including the front door will make all the difference in being able to clean and maintain it as well as prevent the frequency of how often you need to paint again.

It helps to use the best quality paint products your budget allows to ensure you get the best results from any paint colour you choose.  If you’re stuck on sheen and have difficult deciding check out the Benjamin Moore’s website on how to choose paint finish.

Whether you decide to do it on your own or require the assistance of a painting company  it’s always good to have all the information and knowledge to help guide through the different choices that need to be made for the best suitable results.

Have more questions?

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This post was originally published Apr 24, 2017 and edited May 28, 2021