What is Paint Sheen?

Most paints are available in a number of different types of paint finishes. Finish, or paint sheen, refers to the amount of light that reflects off a painted surface once it is dry. So the more sheen a paint finish has, the more light it will reflect when it’s dry. A general rule of thumb in the paint world is, “the higher the sheen, the higher the shine!”  

Not only does the finish affect how shiny the paint is when it dries, but it also affects how the final color looks, the surface durability of the paint, and how easy it is to clean. 

In this guide, we outline five different types of paint finishes and how to choose the best one for your project.

5 Types of Paint Finishes and Where to Use Them in Your Home

1. High-Gloss Paint Finishes

Examples of dark blue paint with High-Gloss paint finish

High gloss paints are the most light-reflecting and shiny of all of the types of paint sheens. This means they are also the most durable and easiest to clean. You will get a lot of miles out of high-gloss paint, but only if the area is prepped correctly beforehand. The ultra shine makes every bump, roll, and flaw extra noticeable.

You wouldn’t typically use this type of paint finish on a large surface area, but rather on high traffic areas like doors, trim, or cabinets.

High-Gloss Paint Finish:
– The most reflective
– Extremely durable
– Easy to clean
– Can make flaws extra noticeable
– Best used on smaller surfaces like doors or cabinets

2. Semi-Gloss Paint Finish

semigloss paint finish example

While not as shiny as a high-gloss, semi-gloss paint is still fairly reflective while also being incredibly durable and easy to clean. They are most commonly used in rooms that contain a lot of moisture such as a bathroom or kitchen because they are also incredibly mildew resistant. 

Since they will still have a reflective finish, a semi-gloss type paint finish will require a little extra prep work to limit the appearance of imperfections, but the longevity of the paint will be well worth it. 

Semigloss Paint Finish:
– Reflective
– Very durable
– Easy to clean
– Mildew Resistant
– Can make flaws extra noticeable
– Perfect for high-moisture areas like bathrooms

3. Satin Paint Finish

satin paint finish example

Satin paint finishes are most commonly used for interior projects due to their soft velvety sheen. They are a bit less durable than a gloss finish, but will still stand up to everyday wear and tear, and routine cleanings.

Your application technique is still very important when using a satin paint finish though because brush strokes can be incredibly noticeable. This also makes repainting and touch-ups a little more tricky, but if applied correctly you won’t have to worry about a thing.

Satin Paint Finish:
– Low Reflective
– Medium durability
– Easy to Clean
– Brush stroked can be more noticeable
– Great for interior walls

4. Eggshell Paint Finish

eggshell paint finish example

If the name wasn’t a big enough clue, the sheen of an eggshell paint finish is indeed very similar to a chicken egg. While not incredibly shiny, eggshell finishes still have a little luster to them and a medium durability rating.

This type of paint finish will likely conceal most imperfections and is resistant to fingerprints making eggshell paint finishes perfect for higher traffic areas or rooms where lots of people gather like hallways and dining rooms.

Eggshell Paint Finish:
– Low Reflection
– Medium Durability
– Fingerprint resistant
– Great for large, high-traffic areas like hallways

5. Flat / Matte Paint Finish

flat paint finish example

More often than not, the terms ‘matte’ and ‘flat’are fairly interchangeable when talking about paint finishes. When fully dry, matte paint will have the least amount of shine or reflection, if any at all, and they tend to require fewer coats to hide imperfections on surfaces. 

As appealing as this coverage may be, matte paint finishes are not very durable at all, and most cleaning solutions will likely cause damage to them. This makes it a better paint option for low-traffic areas, ceilings, and adult bedrooms.

Flat Paint Finish:
– Low to no reflection
– Low durability
– Can not use cleaning solutions on it
– Requires fewer coats of paint
– Hides imperfections
– Great for low-traffic areas like ceilings 

Contact Timmins Painting for Professional Residential Painting Services in Sonoma County

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Types of paint finishes not only determine how shiny or reflective your paint is, but also how durable it is and the maintenance and upkeep it will require. The professionals at Timmins Painting have over 25 years of experience providing residential and commercial painting services throughout Sonoma County. 

Give us a call at 707-792-0773 or contact us online to request a free estimate for your painting project today.