Choosing the Right Paint Sheen and Finish

choosing paint finish sheen Choosing the Right Paint Sheen and Finish
After you’ve selected a paint color the next step is determining the finish and sheen. Here’s a quick reference guide to help you choose.
Range of Sheens
High-gloss finish: very shiny, stain-resistant, great for kid's rooms and often times used for painting furniture
Semi-gloss finish: medium shiny, withstands frequent washing, good for trim and moldings, kitchens and bathrooms
Satin finish: great for any room and dries to a soft velvet look with a bit of a sheen, washable
Eggshell or Satin finish: works for interior walls and has a bit of a shine but is considered low luster
Flat finish: matte results that are often used for cutting and filling bare spots, opaque and absorbs light, not great for high-traffic areas, does not clean well
Paint Finishes
Paint is available in a variety of finishes ranging from flat latex to gloss enamel. Gloss enamels dry to a shiny, reflective surface and are used for surfaces that will be washed often like bathrooms and kitchens. Flat paints are most commonly used for wall and ceiling applications in family rooms and bedrooms.


The two main types of paints are oil-based and water-based, or “latex.” Oil-based is a very durable paint but requires solvents for cleanup. New developments in latex paints have made them as durable as oil-based paints. Latex paints clean up with soap and water.
High washability is a feature of quality paint, whether it be oil or water-based. The pigments in bargain paints may “chalk” and wash away with mild scrubbing.
Paint coverage listed on the label of quality paint should be about 330 square feet per gallon. Bargain paints may initially cost less but sometimes require 2 or even 3 coats of coverage that a higher quality paint could do in one.
photo: the local

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timothy dahl profile Choosing the Right Paint Sheen and Finish

Timothy Dahl

Founder/EIC at Charles & Hudson
Timothy’s background includes stints at This Old House, ELLE DECOR, Metropolitan Home and Woman’s Day. His work has been published on Wired Design, Bob Vila, DIY Network, The Family Handyman and Popular Mechanics and he has been featured on the Martha Stewart radio show and as a speaker at the ALT Design Summit, K/BIS and the National Hardware Show.