Selecting the right paint sheen

Kevin Schaben

Often times I am approached by homeowners who are confused on which sheen to choose for a particular room. I have found out throughout the years that this confusion is definitively warranted.  Paint manufacturers don’t always utilize the same system when it comes to labeling.  Sherwin Williams for example have a paint line called pro mar 200.  Originally the sheen’s that paint offered were Flat, Satin and Semi Gloss.  Many painters complained about the Satin being a lot duller than other Satin finishes they were used to.  They didn’t want to change the Satin product because they were worried about confusing people who already used that product.  For this reason Sherwin Williams decided to add an EggShell finish to their line up.  The chart below would not apply in that instance.  For that reason its always good to ask when you are purchasing just to be sure.  I have found the below guide to be correct 95% of the time.  Good Luck!

 

This chart was furnished by Home Depot

Eggshell/Low-Luster
  • Offers an elegant low-sheen finish
  • Best for low-traffic areas
  • Smooth surface
  • More washable than flat sheens
  • Living room
  • Dining room
  • Bedroom
  • Foyer
  • Family room
  • Hallway
  • Kitchen
  • Trim
Flat/Matte
  • Provides a smooth, subtle finish
  • Camouflages imperfections
  • Ideal for low-traffic areas
  • Absorbs light
  • Holds dirt and is more difficult to clean
  • Rubbing with cleanser may burnish the finish
  • Living room
  • Dining room
  • Bedroom
  • Ceiling
  • Family room
  • Hallway
Gloss
  • Can be scrubbed clean with ease
  • Offers a smooth, high-shine finish
  • Ideal for surfaces that require frequent washing
  • Trim
  • Woodwork
  • Molding
  • Doors
  • Cabinets
  • Kitchen
  • Bath
Satin
  • Can be wiped clean
  • Provides an elegant finish
  • Soft sheen reflects light
  • Ideal for more active rooms
  • Extremely versatile
  • May be used indoors or outdoors
  • Family room
  • Playroom
  • Laundry room
  • Kitchen
  • Guest bathroom
  • Dining room
  • Children’s bedroom
  • Trim
  • Shutters
  • Doors
Semigloss
  • Can be scrubbed clean with ease
  • Smooth sheen reflects light
  • Ideal for high-traffic areas
  • Easy to wash
  • May be used indoors or outdoors
  • Kitchen
  • Bathroom
  • Cabinets
  • Doors
  • Trim
  • Molding
  • Hallway

Room for Improvement


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