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A Guide to Paint Sheens: How to Choose the Right Finish for Your Paint Job

May 30, 2023

When it comes to choosing the right paint for your project, the sheen you choose is just as important as the color. Paint sheen refers to the finish, or in other words, the level of shine. There are many different sheens of paint to choose from, ranging from flat to high-gloss, each with their own unique properties and advantages. Choosing the best paint for your next project can be challenging, but understanding the different paint sheens is one of the first steps in helping you make an informed decision.

Flat or Matte

Flat paint sheen is a type of finish that is matte or dull in appearance. It is not shiny or reflective like other types of sheen such as semi-gloss or gloss. It works well in most areas of the home, such as walls, ceilings, trim, and doors and is a popular option for furniture and cabinets. 

One of the biggest advantages for choosing this sheen is because it’s great for hiding imperfections. That’s because it doesn’t reflect light. The downside of this sheen is that it is easily scuffed and stained. Unfortunately, flat paint can also be difficult to clean. It’s not as easy to wipe off as other types of paint sheens so you may want to avoid using it in a high-traffic area.


Eggshell paint sheen is a popular choice for many interior painting projects. Its subtle sheen creates a soft, silky finish that is both durable and inviting. It is a great choice for walls, doors, and trimwork, and it also works well in bathrooms and kitchens, since it is easy to keep clean.  It’s perfect for areas where you want a little bit of shine, but still want to hide imperfections.

The term eggshell refers to the low-luster, natural look that this type of paint offers. It’s a slightly muted shiny finish, which creates a pleasant, subtle light reflection in the room. The sheen is typically between a flat and a satin finish, with its slight shine providing a nice balance between the two.

Unlike a flat sheen, eggshell finish is easier to clean, and it will not show fingerprints or smudges as easily. It is more durable than flat sheen, and is also more resistant to mildew and mold, which is especially beneficial in humid climates. 


Satin paint sheen is a versatile and attractive option for painting interior walls. It offers a modern look that is more subtle than a high-gloss finish, and it can be used on almost any type of surface. Satin sheen provides a nice balance between a matte and a glossy look, making it a great choice for a variety of interior design styles.

Paint with a satin finish also creates a subtle contrast between the wall and the trim, which can add a modern touch to any room. Plus, it’s easier to clean and more durable than a matte finish, making it a great choice for busy households. 


This sheen has more shine than satin, but less than a high-gloss finish. It is great for areas that need to be scrubbed and mopped often, such as kitchens and bathrooms. It also provides a more polished look and can be used to highlight architectural details.

Semi gloss paint is created by using a higher ratio of resins to pigment than flat paint. This makes it more durable and resistant to dirt, moisture, and wear. The resins also create a slight shine, which gives semi-gloss paint its signature sheen. The sheen is noticeable, but not shiny, making it a great choice for trim or walls where you want to add a little bit of shine without making a room look too glossy.


High gloss paint sheen is an attractive and durable paint finish that is used to add a stand-out, reflective look to a variety of surfaces. It is ideal for trim work and furniture, as well as accent walls and bathroom cabinets. However, because it is so shiny, it can also draw attention to imperfections. Unlike other less-glossy paints, its also good for highly textured surfaces such as stucco. If you want to create a modern, luxurious look, or if you’re painting a room that has little natural light, you might want to consider paint with a high-gloss sheen. 

How to Choose the Right Paint Sheen 

When deciding which paint sheen to use, it is important to take into consideration the space you are painting, the level of durability you need, and the look you are trying to achieve. Flat and eggshell sheens are perfect for hiding imperfections, while satin and semi-gloss are better suited for high-traffic areas. High-gloss is ideal for creating a dramatic look, while flat and eggshell are more understated. 

Need help picking out the perfect paint color and sheen? Give Horner Painting a call! We offer professional color consultations as well as free estimates so you can have everything you need to complete a successful home improvement project.  

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At Horner Painting we strive for excellence. In the event that you are unhappy, we will make it right! At the completion of every job we set up a walk through to go over every detail of your project. We do not expect any payment until the job is finished to your satisfaction. All projects also include a five-year comprehensive warranty.

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