What Exactly Is “Paint Sheen,” and Why Does It Matter?

Finding the perfect interior paint color can steal your attention so quickly that you might forget (or overlook) another crucial decision: choosing the best sheen.

So, why is sheen such a big deal?

Well, think of it like picking new tires for your car. If you’re going to be taking high-speed laps at the track on a Saturday, you would choose a tire built specifically for speed. If, on the other hand, you need extra traction for a snowy climate, you would never pick slicks; a knobby snow tire would make the most sense.

In the same way, you need to pick a sheen that matches the function and purpose of the space you’re painting.

A Closer Look At Interior Paint Sheens

Let’s start with a bird’s-eye view of your options. Sheens range from flat to high-gloss, with satin, eggshell, and semi-gloss in the middle.

Rather than just explain the advantages and disadvantages of each sheen, let’s apply it to spaces in your home that you could potentially be painting.

What Kind Of Paint Is Best For A Bathroom?

Typically a semi-gloss or high-gloss paint would be used in a bathroom. Why? Well, higher-gloss paint is more durable, reflective, and stands up well to washing. Bathrooms typically are bright places, and higher moisture levels in the air make a strong, hard paint a real asset.

Especially if you have a dog (or teenager), you know that this is a space that gets messy and wet quickly. It’s nice to have a paint option that you can scrub or dry without a worry in the world.

Which Sheen Should You Choose For Your Kitchen Paint?

Kitchens are another high-traffic place that calls for tough interior paint. A glossier sheen will definitely not be a disappointment, especially since scuffs and marks can be washed off fairly easily (backpack bumps, smudges from hands, etc.).

As a side note, if you need a few tips for cleaning marks off a wall, just take a look here: How To: Clean Painted Walls.

Painting Your Ceiling

Flat paint is typically used for ceilings, mostly because it’s easy to apply, covers blemishes smoothly, and is non-reflective. The downside to flat (or matte) paint is that it’s not very sturdy, allowing it to be easily smudged or damaged.

Since ceilings don’t exactly receive a lot of foot traffic, this isn’t so much of an issue.

The sheen you choose for bedrooms, your living room, dining room, family room, and other spaces is largely going to be determined by your own stylistic goals, the level of activity in your home, and the condition of your walls.

Here are a few factors (and a brief recap of what we touched on above) to keep in mind:

  • Higher-gloss paint is more shiny and durable
  • Higher-gloss paint is more difficult to apply, and it doesn’t cover surface blemishes very easily (it takes an expert hand)
  • Higher-gloss paint is easily washed and resistant to smudges
  • Lower-gloss paint does cover blemishes well
  • Lower-gloss paint can be washed, but this is a process that needs to be completed carefully since it’s not very durable
  • Lower-gloss paint absorbs light rather than reflects it

So, which options are used most often as an all-around interior paint? Semi-gloss and eggshell paints are very popular since they provide a middle-ground, with benefits of both sheen extremes.

Do You Need A Professional Painting Company In Greater LA?

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