A Brief Guide to Everything You Need to Know about Different Types of Paint Sheens

When you’re buying paint, color, and shade are not the only important factors. The labels will also articulate the different sheens of the paint in the can. If you’re a newcomer to the world of paint, you might be wondering what the manufacturers mean by the sheen.


Paint sheen measures how the light reflects from the paint’s surface or how shiny it is. The sheen will affect how the paint will look in your home. Here is a guide to help you make sense of paint sheen.


What Are the Different Types of Paint Sheen?

There are a few different names for paint sheen. In order from least shiny to most shiny, they are:

  • Flat/matte
  • Eggshell
  • Satin
  • Semi-gloss
  • High gloss

Flat paint has a lot of pigment and almost no sheen. It absorbs light, creating a completely neutral surface. High gloss is paint that has the most sheen. It reflects light, creating a very glossy finish. The others lie somewhere in between in order of shininess.


Other Ways the Sheens Differ

Sheen is important because the sheen label on a paint can just tell you how shiny the paint will look. It also tells you how the paint behaves.


For example, the glossier the paint is, the more durable it is. Matte paint doesn’t hold up to wear and tear well. It gets dirty easily and is difficult to clean. Glossier paint is also more resistant to moisture and won’t form mildew like flat or matte paint will when it is applied in high-moisture areas.


The sheen also tells you how the paint will behave when it comes to any surface imperfections. The shininess of high gloss paint means that it highlights your walls—including any dents and imperfections. The high pigment, and low sheen of flat or matte paint is far more forgiving when it comes to surface imperfections. When you choose high gloss or semi-gloss paint, be ready to spend a lot of time prepping the surface.

How to Choose the Right Paint Sheen

It may seem like having to think about yet another factor when choosing your paint is just too confusing. However, the sheen is actually a shortcut to telling you what’s the best paint for your application.


For example, if you are painting an area that experiences a lot of moisture, such as the bathroom or kitchen, then high-gloss or semi-gloss paint is the way to go. This paint is more resistant to mildew formation and is much easier to clean. It’s also a better choice for areas that get a lot of wear and tear.


On the other hand, if you are painting larger surface areas, you want matte paint to save you time on prep work. Plus, glossy paint reflects light and can make you feel as if you are living in a glass prism.


This basic guide to paint sheen can make your next trip to the hardware store a lot easier.


Need more clarification about the different types of paint sheens? Check out this guide from New Age Painting & Coatings! We cover everything you need about gloss, semi-gloss, satin, eggshell, and flat paints.


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