You’ve found the perfect paint color, you’ve hired a professional painter, and you’re ready to get started… but you’re stuck trying to determine the correct sheen. The wrong finish could mean repainting the space, so we’ve created a quick guide to help you select the perfect sheen.
What is paint sheen?
Sheen is the glossiness of a paint finish. It’s the level of gloss, or shine, in your paint. The sheen can also affect the color. For example, flat paint absorbs more light and can make a color look lighter or slightly chalky while a gloss paint will absorb light making the color appear darker.
Highly reflective with lots of shine
Most durable of all paint sheens and easy to clean
Great for surfaces that receive a lot of wear and tear - such as trim, and doors
Shows a lot of imperfections - proper prep work is a must!
Moderate shine, but not as reflective as a high gloss sheen
Durable and easy to wipe clean
Suitable for areas that need protection from moisture or grease, such as bathrooms and kitchens
Most common sheen selected for trim (chair rail, baseboards, crown molding), cabinets and doors
Shows wall imperfections
Nice luster with a velvet-like appearance without the reflective qualities of gloss sheens
Durable and fairly easy to clean
Good choice for high traffic areas, such as hallways and corridors
Can reveal application imperfections, such as brush strokes and roller marks.
Little luster; sheen lies between satin and flat
Not as durable as satin
Hides imperfections well
Great for areas that receive little abuse, such as dining rooms or private offices
Most common sheen selected for interior walls
Little to no shine, no reflectance; absorbs light to produce a flat overall appearance
Difficult to clean without removing the paint
Hides wall imperfections
Low durability (*note: some paint retailers now offer a performance matte sheen)
Suitable for ceilings, accent walls
After reading this guide, you might be surprised to hear that our favorite paint sheen for interior walls is a Flat Sheen. It creates a beautiful soft, almost suede affect for walls. It portrays color in such a striking and soothing way that it’s worth the extra maintenance required. Many of us repaint our interiors every ten years anyway so why not choose the sheen based on aesthetics instead of cleanability? We say, go for it!