How to Pick a Sheen

When Should I Use Flat Paint?  Where Should I Use a Sheen (Such as Satin or Semi-Gloss)?

How do you choose among the paint finishes: flat, eggshell, satin, semi-gloss and high-gloss? Flat paint is perhaps the most traditional finish for interior walls and ceilings. Flat paints are ideal for painting over new dry wall and for rooms and areas which get gentle use, predominantly by adults. An advantage of flat paints is that they are non-reflective and therefore blemishes such as small pits, tiny bumps or narrow cracks in the surfaces are less visible when painted with flat paint than when painted with gloss.

Vedder Painting, Residential Painter, Interior, Kitchen

The owner of this kitchen chose a satin sheen for the walls and ceiling because it reflects light and brightens the room. A satin gloss has the added benefit of washing easily.

How to Pick the Perfect Sheen for Your Paint

Do you enjoy cooking? Does your family gravitate to your house for holidays? Do you have young children? Enjoy long steamy showers? Love to watch your dogs lounge in front of the fireplace? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, take time now to familiarize yourself with the types and functions of gloss paints. Your paint job is an investment of your time, creativity and financial resources. You can extend its longevity and your enjoyment of it by choosing the right finish.

Vedder Painting, Licensed Painting Contractor, Interior, Bathroom

What Type of Gloss Should I Use?

An eggshell finish is the most subtle of the gloss paints. Of the gloss family, an eggshell finish reflects the least light and appears only very slightly shiny. If you enjoy the look of flat paint but feel you would be better served by paint with a finish that repels rather than absorbs dirt, eggshell would probably be a viable choice for you. You might even find that you prefer its appearance, as the hint of light in eggshell lends both warmth and depth to wall and ceilings. When making your finish selection, keep in mind that sheens will vary somewhat among manufacturers so it’s important once you have made your color selection to carefully study the finish options. Also, a note of caution: restrict application of gloss samples to test boards–do not apply the gloss directly onto your ceiling, wall, trim or anywhere else! Gloss is notorious for flashing! In other words, when you paint over it, the test area may show through all of the subsequent coats that you apply–not a desired effect. Satin is the second least shiny gloss finish. Satin can be used to paint walls (particularly in rooms that don’t get much light, the added reflective quality of the paint helps to illuminate the room,) windows, doors, trim and ceiling. Satin is more dirt- and stain-resistant than eggshell and is easy to wash; however, it is not as durable as semi-gloss. Semi-gloss is very reflective and strong. It will hold up for many scrubbings, making it a perfect choice if your kitchen is one that gets a great deal of use. Semi-gloss is also a great choice for a bathroom that sees frequent steamy baths and showers–or a laundry room–anyplace where moisture is likely to build up and linger. A semi-gloss finish helps seal out moisture and therefore maintains the integrity of your wood and dry wall, making it less susceptible to damage from exposure. Other appropriate uses of semi-gloss are cabinets, doors and trim. Semi-gloss brightens without the formality that high-gloss suggests. High-gloss is very highly reflective and so lustrous that it approximates enamel or a plastic finish. It is durable and easily washable and can be used for trim, doors and cabinets.