Paint Sheen Pointers: How to Choose the Right Type of Paint Finish

If you’ve ever been to the paint section of the hardware store, you know that choosing the right color is only half the battle. Once you’ve found the perfect color, you’ll find that there are a variety of finishes that are just as important as the color you’ve chosen.


Summer is a great time to refresh your home inside and out, so if sprucing up your existing wall color, or exploring new hues to completely change the feel of the room is on your list, this helpful guide is for you. From flat to gloss, we’ll go over different paint finishes to help you choose the perfect paint finish for your space.


Keep Things Simple with Flat

Ever look up at your ceiling and get a sense of dread? Maybe it’s time to consider an upgrade. For places like your ceiling and other low traffic areas, flat is your perfect sheen. Flat paint absorbs light and mutes imperfections, providing a simple, smooth appearance. Unless you're creating a rendition of the Sistine Chapel, a busy, glossy ceiling only draws unwanted attention away from the decor and design of the room. And, while a flat finish is great at smoothing and muting, it is most suitable for low-traffic areas of your home, as this finish does not clean as easily as some of the others.


Flat paint finish is great for:

  • Ceilings  
  • Low traffic areas


Add Texture with Eggshell

Just like our hair, sometimes we want our rooms to have a little extra texture. That is where eggshell comes in. Eggshell finishes add texture to the room and add a low-luster sheen that is similar to the surface of an egg, hence the name. While offering a more practical finish for well-trafficked areas, eggshell finishes softly reflect light throughout the room or space while resisting everyday scuffs or stains. Eggshell finishes also prove to be practical for most areas of the home while also providing a durable, long-lasting color.


Eggshell Paint finish is great for:

  • Bedrooms
  • Family Rooms
  • Hallways


Give High Traffic Areas a Glow with Satin

While satin might make you think of the fashion industry, there is more to this finish than you think. Though similar to an eggshell in terms of luster, satin finishes exude their own warm, almost pearlescent touch that can give areas a soft glow. As an added bonus, this finish is more durable than its eggshell counterpart, and is resilient - resisting dirt and stains, while also withstanding cleaning and gentle scrubbing - making them perfect for high-traffic areas.


A word of caution though, this finish can be a little tricky to apply, as it tends to reveal application flaws from a paintbrush or roller, so take extra care when painting.


Satin paint finish is great for: 

  • Kitchens  
  • Laundry Rooms  
  • Bathrooms 
  • Hallways  
  • Shutters 


Make Accents Sparkle with Semi-Gloss

We all want our accents to stand out, after all, that is why we have them. And what better way to do that than with pops of paint colors?


Semi-gloss paints are a great way to make accent walls or pieces sparkle by providing a noticeable sheen. A semi-gloss finish works best in areas that receive a lot of light to reflect their shine, however, this glossy finish also tends to amplify imperfections, revealing heavy brush-strokes or surface imperfections. Nonetheless, semi-gloss paints are highly durable, resisting mold and mildew, which is especially useful in very damp or humid conditions, such as basements or bathrooms. This finish is best suited for high-traffic areas that are frequently cleaned.  

Semi-gloss paint finish is great for:

  • Kids Rooms 
  • Kitchens  
  • Bathroom 
  • Doors & Windows 
  • Moulding  
  • Cabinets  


Shine Up Side Pieces with Gloss

Glossy paint offers a high-sheen finish that offers a greater depth of color to bring out rich tones and hues. Gloss finish exemplifies the color of the paint or texture, making the color appear more jewel-like than flat. This brilliant finish also attracts attention, so it’s not always best not to paint an entire room with high-gloss paint. Use this finish sparingly. A high-gloss finish is great for furniture with wood trim, or small home decor pieces. Whatever you decide to paint, be sure to use high gloss paint in low-traffic areas, as this finish tends to amplify blemishes, scratches, and application inconsistencies.


Gloss finish paint is great for:

  • Furniture 
  • Trim 
  • Moulding 
  • Accents and Accessories  


With this helpful guide, you can use your newfound knowledge on paint finishes to make your home magazine ready. Regardless if you are looking to spruce up a single area of your home, or if you’re going for a total redesign, this guide provides tips for every surface of your home. Do you have all the knowledge on paint finishes, but can’t choose the right brand? We’ve got you covered. Sherwin Williams offers a rich variety of high-quality paint colors and finishes that will take your interior to the next level.



Contributed to Your Home blog by Joshlin Grayson

Looking for more tips, ideas or inspiration? Return Home here.

Published 9.20.18

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