All About Paint Sheens

What is a Paint Sheen and Why Does it Matter?

Paint comes in a variety of sheens:

  • Flat
  • Eggshell 
  • Satin
  • Semi-gloss 
  • Gloss

In general it is said the higher the sheen, the better the durability and while this has some merit, a high sheen may not be the best suited for all areas. 

Here is a quick guide to choosing your paint sheens:


  • Ceilings = Flat 
  • Walls = Eggshell
  • Trim & Doors = Semi-gloss


  • Body of house = Satin (unless you have stucco then go with flat) 
  • Trim & Doors = Satin

Flat or Matte 

Flat paint is usually reserved for ceilings, however some painters will tell you that it’s okay to use on a low traffic area. Personally I would not use flat for any area except ceilings. 

There are some decorative applications, specifically furniture that flat paint with a wax coating would be appropriate. I will wrote and article about the application of wax for your decorative top coat another time. 


Eggshell is the most popular sheen for interior walls. Eggshell doesn’t have too high of a gloss and is a great in between for most rooms. Eggshell is durable and will allow for washing if the walls get dirty.  It will not be as washable as semi-gloss but will still allow for cleaning.

Eggshell sometimes gets used on kitchen and bath spaces as well.  With its durability and the low humidity in COLORado, Eggshell can be versatile.  Under some circumstances, we will still recommend using semi-gloss in the kitchen and bath spaces.  

Some smaller spaces may even be designated for ceilings and walls in Eggshell.  This can be done in as small bathroom with a darker color or even in a kitchen. 


A slightly brighter sheen than Eggshell.  Satin can be used when a little more sheen is desired but you don’t quite want semi gloss and Eggshell is not glossy enough.  Some paint colors look better in satin because they are lighter in color.  Deeper colors, as mentioned about have a tendency to have more shine.  Another benefit to Satin is it is washable, and a little more durable than Eggshell.  You can’t “scrub” sating the way you could Semi-gloss but its still very cleanable.


Semi-gloss is most commonly used for baseboards, doors and trim as well as window casements (usually included and match trim and doors).  Semi-Gloss has more enamel properties which makes it more durable and more cleanable than other previously mentioned sheens.  Semi-gloss is the safest for use in Kitchens and Bathrooms.  It holds up best against water and dirt, and being a cleanable sheen is great for kitchens.


Making a come back.  It used to be that high-gloss was used for trim and doors, but the high sheen shows a lot of imperfections in woodwork or drywall. That being said, high-gloss can be a nice clean look with and eggshell wall and is still a great choice for your doors, trim and casings.  High-gloss can also be used for cabinets.  We don’t always use a high-gloss on cabinets, most of the time we use semi-gloss for cabinets.  


If you have any further questions about Paint Sheen or any other paint related questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us directly.

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Tuesday, 23 July 2024

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