Choosing the Proper Paint Sheen for Your Project


You have the perfect color picked out, but how do you choose the right paint sheen for your project?

You've spent hours in the store comparing and contrasting paint cards, picking that perfect cream for your living room, the cream that doesn't look too white or too brown but just perfect.

Now you have made it to the paint counter, and the sales associate asks which pain sheen you would like, and you have no idea how to respond.

Did you know that while there are thousands of paint chips at the store, there are only 7 colors on the spectrum? That in itself can be intimidating. Choosing a paint finish after you've decided on color doesn't have to be intimidating.

Here is a list of all the paint finishes and when to use them. 

What Is Paint Sheen?

Paint sheen, or paint finish, is a measure of how much light reflects on the paint. They come in various levels, ranging from a flat finish to a high-gloss. The paint sheen affects the shade and look of the color, and it also determines how well the paint will hold up over time. 

Some paint sheens wipe clean easier and hold up better in high-traffic areas, while others are good for hiding imperfections in walls. While certain paint sheens are recommended for different house areas, you should always feel free to experiment to find out which paint finish you like best. 

Let's go over the paint sheens, which range from entirely flat to mirror-like high-gloss. 

Flat Finish

The flat finish does not have any gloss to it, but it is the best for hiding any blemishes or cracks in your wall. It's also an excellent finish to cover popcorn ceilings. They are best in low-traffic areas since this paint sheen is a bit harder to clean.

We love it because it's a completely non-reflective finish and hides any imperfections in walls.

Use the flat finish in a formal sitting room, office, on textured walls, or ceilings.

Matte Finish

Matte is almost as shine-free as flat but has a little more durability. While the matte finish is still not ideal for high-traffic areas, it does have a tiny bit of sheen to the paint color. 

It's a favorite because of its non-reflective nature, and it hides imperfections.

Use the matte finish in a formal sitting room, office, on textured walls, or ceilings.

Eggshell Finish

The eggshell finish is the most popular as it is perfect for interior walls in high-traffic areas. This paint sheen is easy to clean without having a high gloss or shine to it. 

It has a velvety look and is the best paint for everyday spaces.

Use the eggshell finish in any room in the house except the bathroom—best for the living room and bedroom. 

Pearl Finish

The pearl finish is a medium gloss that is durable and great for high-traffic areas. It offers a beautiful finish without being too distracting and has an iridescent quality. 

It is an excellent medium gloss that offers a smooth look but still suitable for high-traffic areas.

Trims, window frames, walls in high-traffic areas like the living room and kitchen will benefit from this finish.

Satin Finish

The satin finish has more shine than the eggshell, matte, and flat finishes. It has more stain resistance and is a little easier to clean than eggshell. The satin sheen is the middle between matte and high-gloss and is perfect for high-traffic areas. 

We love it for its higher gloss than eggshell and provides more definition.

Use it in kitchens, bathrooms, hallways, and family rooms.  

Semi-Gloss Finish

Now we are starting to get into paint sheens with a higher shine to them. It has even more washability than eggshell and satin but highlights imperfections, such as cracks or blemishes, in the walls. 

Semi-gloss sheen is excellent for high-traffic, high-humidity areas. It is also commonly used for cabinets or trims. 

Why we love it: provides good contrast against matte and eggshell finishes.

Use the semi-gloss finish in children's rooms, bathrooms, kitchens, and entryways.

High-Gloss Finish

A high-gloss paint finish is perfect for highlighting any accents you'd like to feature in your home. Its high sheen is also suitable for any areas that need protecting since this one is the easiest of all of them to wipe clean. 

When using this high-gloss paint finish, make sure the surface is entirely smooth, as its high reflectivity highlights any uneven or imperfect surfaces. It is a finish that you will want to hire a professional since it requires careful preparation and application. 

It's the easiest paint to clean and has a mirror-like finish.

Trims, doors, kitchen cabinets, and backsplash pair best with this finish.

Rooms and the Recommended Paint Sheen

Let's go over which rooms benefit from which paint sheen.

Living Room and Bedroom

For high-traffic rooms such as the living room and bedroom:

  • Eggshell finish
  • Wipes clean easily and durable enough to hold up to high traffic
  • Eggshell can hide minor blemishes or imperfections in walls without being distracting


  • Semi-gloss and satin finish
  • Semi-gloss is perfect for high humidity areas without having a distracting shine.


  • Semi-gloss finish
  • You will want a paint that hides blemishes and any imperfections but wipes clean easily and is durable.

Doors and Trim

  • High-gloss finish
  • High-gloss offers durability and a high shine to show off accents


  • High-gloss finish
  • It adds visual interest to your cabinets 
  • It is the easiest paint sheen to clean 

Have Confidence When Choosing Your Paint Sheen

It is entirely up to you and your personal preference how and where you would like to use these different paint sheens. Now, when you are standing in that line at the paint store, you will be able to have the confidence to choose the right paint sheen for your project. 

If you are having trouble choosing a color, we can help you! Browse our website to see some of the recent interior projects we have finished and how we can help transform your space.