When I do color consultations with San Diego homeowners as part of my house painting business, I also often help them chose the right sheen of paint for what is being painted. Some homeowners know exactly what they want (or don’t want) when it comes to the paint sheen, but some have no idea there are even different sheens to choose from.
What Are Paint Sheens?
Let’s start from the beginning, in case you’re one of those homeowners who isn’t familiar with the various sheens of paint. “Sheen” refers to the amount of shine in the paint. You can get paint with a lot of shine or sheen, or paint with none at all. There are five common sheens of paint from which you can choose:
They are listed in order of the most sheen, down to no sheen at all, with gloss paint having the most amount of shine to it. Some paint manufacturers also make a high-gloss paint, which will have even more sheen that gloss paint, and a low-sheen paint, which falls in between semi-gloss and eggshell.
Gloss and high-gloss paint will have a shiny, almost reflective, quality to it. These types of paint are also the most durable. They are easy to clean, relatively stain resistant, and can withstand regular cleaning. However, high-sheen paints will also highlight any imperfections, such as cracks or poorly patched areas. It is also harder to get a smooth finish using gloss paint when using a brush or roller.
On the other end of the spectrum, flat paint is the least durable, but is great for hiding surface imperfections. It doesn’t hold up well to regular cleaning (especially scrubbing), but it does touch up well.
What Type of Paint Should I Use for Various Surfaces?
The sheen of paint you should use depends on several factors. You should take into consideration things like:
- How often the area will need to be wiped down
- The amount of traffic/use the surface will be exposed to
- The nature of the surface itself
In areas that tend to get dirty, going with a paint with a high amount of sheen to it is advised. Kitchen and bathroom walls, doors, and baseboards are prime candidates for gloss or semi-gloss paint. However, if you like the look of shinier walls, you could use gloss paint throughout your whole home, if you want.
Flat paint should be reserved for ceilings and the walls in rooms that won’t see a lot of scuffs or smudges, such as bedrooms, offices, and formal living rooms. Flat paint is also great for walls that are highly textured or those with inconsistent texture to help hide some of the inconsistencies. You would use the “in-between” sheens (eggshell and satin) for rooms that get a little more traffic than normal, such as children’s bedrooms, playrooms, family rooms, or mudrooms. They could also be used in low-traffic bathrooms or dining rooms.
In the end, it’s really a matter of preference. If you want to use flat paint in your kitchen because you like the look better—go for it! As long as you understand that your walls may get stained, and you may have to do regular touch-ups to keep your walls looking clean. Or if you want to highlight the texture in your walls, go ahead and paint them with the glossiest paint you can find. It’s really up to you!
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