You probably know what colour of paint you want to use to freshen up your space, but do you know the best paint sheen for the room you’re updating?  All sheens are not created equal. All paint finishes are not appropriate for all rooms. What paint sheen is best for your location? The following is a breakdown of the differences between paint sheens and where they’re best used. 

What is paint sheen?

Sheen refers to how much shine or lustre a paint has; how much light is reflected off the paint’s surface. Different paint finishes do different jobs. The higher the gloss level, the shinier the paint and the more scrubbable the finish. The glossier the paint, the more imperfections will show, making different sheens good for different areas of your home. The finish of a paint is independent of its colour, but can affect how you perceive the hue. Sheen changes the depth of colour, making it appear brighter or richer in certain lights. 

What paint sheens can I choose from?

There are a number of standard paint finishes that you can choose when refreshing your home with paint. 

  • Flat and matte paints have no sheen as they absorb more light than they reflect. This paint is durable, touches up well and hides minor surface imperfections (nail holes, small patches) but does not handle scrubbing. It’s perfect for low-traffic areas where fingerprints, scuff marks and stains are not an issue. Try it in dining rooms, bedrooms, living rooms and on ceilings.
  • Eggshell paint has a low sheen and a velvety smooth appearance. It’s more scrubbable than flat or matte paint, making it ideal for low to mid-traffic areas. Try it in bedrooms, family rooms, hallways, living rooms, entryways and dining rooms.
  • Satin paint has a pearl-like finish and soft sheen. It resists mildew and fading and is easy to clean, making it the most versatile paint type. Use it in moderate to high-traffic areas (playroom, home office, children’s bedrooms) and areas with moisture (kitchen, bathroom, laundry). It’s also great for trim, shutters and siding.
  • Semi-gloss paint offers maximum durability making it a great choice if you have children or pets. Use it in high-traffic areas such as utility rooms, children’s bedrooms, entryways, family rooms and hallways. Its shiny, sleek appearance makes it a perfect choice for cabinets, trim and doors while its moisture resistance lends itself to bathrooms, kitchens and laundry rooms.
  • High gloss paint is very reflective and has a shiny glass-like finish. It works well for highlighting detail (trim, moulding, shutters, casings) and is the best choice for high-use areas that take a lot of abuse (doors, cabinets, railings). This paint adheres best to smooth clean surfaces and often requires more than one coat for good coverage.
  • Ceiling flats are spatter-resistant, have no sheen and are the best paint for hiding imperfections. They’re specifically designed for ceilings.

How do I pick the right paint sheen?

The amount of gloss you need is determined by what you wish to accomplish. The higher the sheen, the more durable the finish and the easier it is to clean the surface. However, the glossier the paint, the more imperfections will show. Choose different sheens to suit the function and condition of each space. 

  • Consider the surface: Are you painting walls, cabinets and/or trim?
  • Consider the activity level of the room: Is it a high-traffic area or a low-traffic area? How durable do you need the paint to be?
  • Consider the lighting: Artificial lighting will reflect light differently than a room with lots of natural lighting. 
  • Consider the colour of the paint: A dark rich colour will be shinier (because of additional pigments) and therefore show more imperfections. The same tint of white may look brighter in high gloss than in flat paint. Choose your finish wisely.

When choosing the level of paint sheen, consider the room you’re painting and the use that you make of the space. The higher the gloss, the shinier the paint and the easier it will be to clean. However, the higher the shine, the more imperfections will show through. No matter what sheen you decide upon, always choose high-quality paint. Higher pigment levels will result in the need for fewer applications and more resins will make the paint more durable. Consult your local painting contractor for help in choosing the best paint sheen for your project.

Not sure which paint sheen is right for your space? Want a paint job that looks great for a long time? Need the help of a professional residential painting company? Call the Calgary residential painting experts, Cal Res Coatings at (403) 917-0556. We have experience with exterior and interior painting. We’re a residential painting contractor that strives for quality, has an eye for detail and colour, and will not rest until your job is done to your satisfaction. Request a free quote today.

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