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Paint Finish Guide

The sheen spectrum is wide and can be a bit intimidating, but let’s go through the basics to make that decision a bit more manageable!

What is sheen? Sheen is a gloss or shine level. The higher the gloss level, the shinier the appearance. Did you know that gloss is actually measured in 0-100 gloss units? It is a measure of the light reflecting off the surface. Paint that has more gloss units, or more sheen, contains more enamel. This makes the surface harder, easier to clean and more resilient to scratching and staining. To measure sheen, light is reflected off of the dry paint surface at an 85° angle. The light is then deflected into a receptor which calculates what percentage of the original beam of light is deflected into the receptor to provide the sheen. For example, if 10% of the light shone on a dried paint surface is reflected into the receptor, that finish is considered a matte sheen. Different manufacturers might use different angles of light and different ranges to categorize their sheen.

Types of Interior Paint Sheen

FLAT (0% - 3%) Flat paint does not reflect light at all, resulting in no shine. The pigment of the paint is allowed to come through, displaying rich colors beautifully. The downfall to flat paint is that it is difficult to clean, therefore flat is an ideal choice for low-traffic areas, and especially ceilings.

MATTE (3% - 10%) Matte still hides surface imperfections well and will provide excellent depth of color but has slightly more shine than flat sheen. Like flat sheen, matte finish is also more susceptible to stains and scuffs and should be avoided in high-traffic areas.

EGGSHELL (12% - 25%) As the go-to sheen for most professional painters and paint enthusiasts for interior walls, the eggshell sheen is infinitely more durable than flat or matte but still has a low sheen to its appearance. It provides an easy to clean surface, suited for most areas of a home, including family rooms and hallways. While it still reflects more light that flat or matte, it will create a soft glow and casts paint colors beautifully.

SATIN (25% - 35%) Satin is similar to eggshell but delivers a higher gloss. It looks great in any color, offers better stain resistance and is washable enough for regular traffic areas. This finish is a specifically an ideal choice in bedrooms and high-traffic areas when you have a household with kids and pets. Satin is also a great option for areas that crave definition. You can use its distinctive luster to highlight windows, shutters trim and even interior doors.

SEMI-GLOSS (35% - 60%) Used mostly for interior and exterior doors, trim, baseboards and cabinets, semi-gloss has a luminous, higher sheen that is perfectly suited to highlight the architectural details of your home and create dimension on millworks trim and doors. With its durable properties, it is great for frequently cleaned areas and rooms with excess moisture. Ensure that your surface is perfectly smooth first, as its glossy finish has the ability to highlight imperfections.

HIGH-GLOSS (>60%) Because of its high reflectivity and mirror-like finish, high-gloss sheen is best for highlighting. You can use it on trim, doors, cabinets, or any feature you would like to accent with a high-shine color. This sheen is stain-resistant and the easiest to clean and wipe down.

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