How to Choose A Paint Sheen For Your Home

paint sheen comparison

Picking a paint color is fun because it can transform a space into something fresh and new. There are variations of white paint, modern bold paint shades, and of course my favorite…greens! The possibilities are exciting but, have you ever walked up to the paint counter, after spending possibly too much time trying to find the right color, and then felt totally lost because you then had to pick a paint sheen? Don’t worry it happens more often than you think. This is why I am sharing how to choose a paint sheen for your home.

how to choose a paint sheen

What is Paint Sheen?

First off, what is a paint sheen? When we start talking about paint sheens we are talking about the finish of the paint. How it reflects light. How easy it is to clean. The sheen of paint can have a huge impact on your overall look and how it will hold up. It is important to know the details of each kind of sheen so that you can make the right choice for your home. So let’s dig a little deeper and talk about each paint sheen individually. 

Types of Paint Sheen

Flat Paint-

A flat paint sheen is a paint finish that doesn’t reflect light. I am talking no shine at all. It is perfect for hiding imperfections because instead of reflecting light, a flat sheen actually absorbs light. It provides a simple and smooth look but is not very durable or scrubbable which makes a flat paint sheen perfect for low-traffic areas. 

Matte Paint-

A matte paint sheen reflects very minimal amounts of light. Think flat, but with a little bit of luster. Matte paint finishes hide imperfections very well and provide great coverage. It is another great option for low-traffic areas. 

Eggshell Paint-

An eggshell sheen is usually described as a velvety finish. An eggshell finish doesn’t have shine, but it does have luster. Just like a chicken’s egg. The amount of luster in an eggshell sheen gives any space a soft glow.  It is easy to clean and is a good choice for regular to medium-traffic areas. 

Satin Paint-

A satin paint sheen is easily compared to a soft pearl-like glow. I love that it has a little bit more shine. It is also more durable. And, if you have kids like me, it can be scrubbed. Just keep in mind, that the application of satin paint can be a bit tricky because it tends to show application flaws.



Semi-gloss Paint-

A semi-gloss sheen is known for having a higher shine. But, it is also known for having higher durability. It is the perfect finish for high-traffic areas where you want a sleek look. For the smoothest finish, apply a few thin coats of semi-gloss paint rather than one thick coat. 

High-gloss Paint-

A high–gloss sheen is going to give you the ultimate shine. I’m talking about a glass-like finish. It is great for giving an extra bit of protection and is very easy to clean for places in your home that are used most often. You wouldn’t want to use a high-gloss finish on your walls, but it is great for doors, cabinets, and furniture. 

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Paint Sheen Guide: Which Sheen Works Best Where

Now that we know about the different types of paint sheen you can choose from, what kind of paint finish should you use where? Everyone always has their own personal preference, but I am sharing where I like using each type of paint finish. 

Paint Sheen for Ceilings

On my ceilings, my go-to paint sheen is always flat. The reason I like using flat paint on my ceilings is that there isn’t any glare. Instead of looking shiny, the natural light will be absorbed and allow the rest of my rooms to be the central focus. Flat paint is also great for hiding imperfections and works well with different types of textures. And because flat paint is best used in low-maintenance places, the ceiling is the perfect canvas.

Paint Sheen for Walls

For the walls in my home, I like using a matte or eggshell finish on the walls depending on what room I am painting. A matte paint sheen is best for low-maintenance areas like the dining room. While eggshell is a better option for hallways, kid’s bedrooms, and playrooms because it is easier to clean and more durable than matte paint. 

paint sheen comparison

Paint Sheen for Baseboards

When it comes to baseboards, I prefer using a satin paint sheen no matter what color I am using. You did hear me right when I said “no matter what color I am using.” Have you seen the contrasting baseboard/trim trend? I tried it in my master bedroom and it is drool-worthy. Baseboards aren’t just white anymore, and I am here for it!

My reason behind using a satin paint finish on baseboard and trim is because you need a paint sheen that will hold up to cleaning, bumps, scratches….pretty much all that happens in everyday life with a family. An eggshell paint sheen is also another great option for baseboards and trims if you want the luster of your paint to match throughout. But, satin will give you the most durability.  

Top 2 Favorite Paint Brands

Since we are talking about paint, I have to mention my top 2 favorite brands of paint. When it comes to DIY projects in my home, I always use Sherwin Williams and Benjamin Moore. No matter what paint sheen you are using, both Sherwin Williams and Benjamin Moore go on so easily. I have always been so happy with their options and the quality of paint.

How to Choose a Paint Sheen For Your Home

Paint is just paint, right? Well…now you know there is a little more when it comes to picking paint. You’ve got the tools you need to know how to choose a paint sheen for your home. So…which space are you painting first? If you are looking for other DIY ideas, make sure you hang out with me on Instagram and TikTok. Let’s stop pinning and start doing!

Disclosure: I only recommend products I would use myself and all opinions expressed here are our own. This post may contain affiliate links that at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission. Read the full privacy policy here.

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