Paint cans for demonstrating sheen

Choosing the Sheen

Paint sheen can be a confusing topic and we are often asked “Which sheen should I use?” Sheen is, simply put, how shiny a paint is. The higher the sheen, the more shiny a paint. Sheen also affects a paint’s durability and longevity, as well as its performance when being applied.

Low sheen paints will hide many surface imperfections and is generally easier to apply. Brush and roller strokes will be harder to see, and damaged surfaces or old paint is easier to cover. However, a lower sheen paint is usually less durable, easier to damage, and can be very difficult to clean.

In contrast, high sheen paints are more durable. A higher sheen will be more resistant to moisture damage, small bumps and scuffs. However, a higher sheen paint can be difficult to apply.  Brush and roller textures can be visible and the paint may require more coats to get the perfect finished appearance.

Sheen from flattest to glossiest:

Low

  • Flat
  • Matte

Most commonly used for ceiling paints, to avoid drawing the attention upwards. Also good for low traffic rooms and covering mistakes.

Medium

  • Low Lustre
  • Eggshell
  • Pearl
  • Satin

Eggshell is the most popular middle sheen for walls. Eggshell generally strikes a good balance between the durability and  cleaning of a high gloss paint with the coverage and easy application of low gloss paints. The sheen varies between products and companies. Satin tends to be used for doors, trim, and cabinetry.

High

  • Semi-Gloss
  • High-Gloss

High glosses are best used for high use areas with difficult conditions such as higher humidity. Glosses are easier to clean, more resistant to moisture and direct abuse like touching and scuffs. These are best on cabinetry, trim, doors, bathrooms and kitchens.

There are not hard rules about applications for paint sheen, in fact, several Benjamin Moore products are specially engineered to have low sheens but high durabilty, such as the Aura: Bath and Spa (534) a Matte paint specially engineered to be mildew resistant as well as Waterborne Ceiling Paint (508) which is specially Ultra Flat, and others like these.

Please feel free to stop by your local Mallory Paint Store and check out our different sheen displays and get expert advice to help you get a better idea what will work best in your home.