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The Ultimate Guide to Paint Sheens: Choosing the Right Finish for Every Surface


When it comes to painting projects, choosing the right paint sheen is just as important as selecting the perfect color. The sheen of a paint refers to the glossiness or shininess of the finish once it has dried. Different paint sheens are best suited for specific surfaces and areas of your home, so it’s important to understand the differences between them in order to achieve the desired results. In this ultimate guide to paint sheens, we’ll break down each type of finish and provide tips on how to choose the best option for every surface in your home.

Flat/Matte Finish

Flat or matte paint finishes have no shine and provide a smooth, velvety appearance. This type of sheen is perfect for hiding imperfections on walls and ceilings, making it ideal for areas with less foot traffic such as bedrooms, living rooms, and dining rooms. However, flat paint is not as durable or washable as higher sheen finishes, so it may not be the best choice for high-traffic areas or rooms that are prone to moisture, such as bathrooms or kitchens.

Eggshell Finish

Eggshell paint has a slight sheen that falls somewhere between flat and satin finishes. It offers a soft, subtle shine that is easy to clean and maintain, making it a great choice for hallways, bedrooms, and other areas that see moderate foot traffic. Eggshell finish is also a popular choice for painting furniture or cabinets, as it provides a durable, washable surface without being too glossy.

Satin Finish

Satin paint has a smooth, velvety sheen that is slightly more reflective than eggshell. This finish is highly durable and washable, making it a great choice for high-traffic areas such as kitchens, bathrooms, and family rooms. Satin paint also works well on trim and doors, providing a subtle contrast to the walls. However, satin finishes can make imperfections more noticeable, so be sure to properly prepare and prime the surface before painting.

Semi-Gloss Finish

Semi-gloss paint has a bright, shiny finish that is highly durable and washable. This sheen is perfect for areas that require frequent cleaning, such as kitchens, bathrooms, and kids’ rooms. Semi-gloss paint is also a popular choice for trim, doors, and cabinets, as it provides a sleek, polished look. Keep in mind that semi-gloss paint can accentuate imperfections, so be sure to properly prepare the surface before applying this finish.

Gloss Finish

Gloss paint has the highest level of shine and reflectivity, making it the most durable and washable of all paint sheens. Gloss finish is the best choice for areas that require maximum durability and a high-gloss appearance, such as doors, trim, and furniture. However, gloss paint can highlight imperfections and surface flaws, so it’s important to properly prep and sand the surface before painting.

Choosing the Right Paint Sheen for Every Surface

When selecting a paint sheen for your painting project, it’s important to consider the specific requirements of each surface in order to achieve the best results. Here are some tips for choosing the right finish for every surface in your home:

Walls: For walls in low-traffic areas such as bedrooms and living rooms, a flat or matte finish is a great choice. For areas that require more durability and washability, such as kitchens and bathrooms, consider a satin or eggshell finish. Keep in mind that darker colors tend to show more imperfections, so opt for a higher sheen finish for bold or dark-colored walls.

Trim and Doors: Trim and doors can benefit from a semi-gloss or gloss finish, as these sheens provide maximum durability and washability. Glossy finishes also create a polished, elegant look that complements the rest of the room. Be sure to properly prep and sand the surface before painting to achieve a smooth, flawless finish.

Furniture and Cabinets: When painting furniture or cabinets, choose a sheen that offers both durability and a polished appearance. Eggshell or satin finishes work well for furniture, while semi-gloss or gloss finishes are best for cabinets. Properly clean and sand the surface before painting to ensure a long-lasting finish.

Ceilings: Ceilings are often painted with flat or matte finishes to help hide imperfections and create a seamless, uniform look. Flat paint also helps to reduce glare and create a cozy, inviting atmosphere in the room. Consider using a bright white or light-colored paint to make the space feel open and airy.

Exterior Surfaces: When painting exterior surfaces such as siding, trim, or doors, choose a sheen that provides maximum durability and protection against the elements. Semi-gloss or gloss finishes work well for trim and doors, while satin or eggshell finishes are suitable for siding. Be sure to use exterior paint that is specifically formulated for outdoor use, and properly prep the surface before painting to ensure longevity.


Selecting the right paint sheen for each surface in your home is key to achieving a professional, long-lasting finish. By considering the specific requirements of each area and choosing the appropriate sheen, you can create a beautiful, personalized space that will stand the test of time. Whether you prefer a soft, subtle matte finish or a high-gloss shine, there is a paint sheen that is perfect for every surface in your home. Happy painting!

Need Paint in San Antonio, TX?

At San Antonio Paints, we can help you with all your indoor, outdoor, and painting sundries needs. We are a proud distributor of premium Benjamin Moore products. We are locally owned and operated; our storefront is located in northern San Antonio, TX. We look forward to helping you choose the perfect paint for your project! Contact us today!