At the shop, host Kevin O’Connor discusses paint sheens with paint expert Mauro Henrique. Mauro explains the different sheens of paint, including flat, matte, eggshell, semi-gloss, and gloss. The two discuss where each of these sheens is appropriate or best suited, including how they’ve used them on some of the Ask This Old House projects.
Types of Paint Sheens
Paint comes in different sheens. In simple terms, sheen describes how shiny a paint finish is, and there are essentially 5 different levels:
Flat paint has no sheen at all. This paint is extremely easy to paint with and hides blemishes well, but it’s very difficult to clean. It’s best used for ceilings or areas that see very little traffic.
Matte paint has a very slight sheen. It’s still easy to paint with and hides blemishes, and it’s a little easier to clean than flat paint. Matte paint is best for bedrooms and low-traffic areas.
Eggshell has a bit more sheen than matte paint, allowing it to be more cleanable and durable. It’s suitable for rooms that see low to medium traffic.
Satin paint has a medium sheen, making it very cleanable and durable. It’s a little more difficult to paint with, however, since it can reflect light around blemishes and allow them to stand out. However, since it’s so durable, it’s ideal for high-traffic areas like living rooms and bathrooms, as well as cabinets and trim.
Semi-gloss has quite a bit of sheen, and this makes an excellent paint for trim and doors in high-traffic areas. It is difficult to paint with because it will show blemishes, but it’s extremely easy to clean and very durable.
Gloss paint has the highest level of sheen, and it’s extremely durable and easy to clean. While it’s suitable for trim work, it can be very shiny so it’s best used for accents like front doors and ornate trim work.
The Higher the Sheen, The More Protection
The higher the amount of sheen in a paint, the more protection that paint will offer. This translates to improved cleanability and durability, allowing these surfaces to last longer without much maintenance.
It’s All About Preference
While different finishes offer varying levels of protection, it really comes down to the homeowner’s preference. The general rules are flat for ceilings, matte and eggshell for walls, satin and semi-gloss for trim, and gloss for accent pieces. Working within those rules will allow a paint job to last as long as possible.