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Hi-Gloss or Satin or Matte, Oh My! How to Shine When Choosing Your Sheen

Have you ever walked down the paint aisle in a hardware store and noticed that not only are there 100 different hues of “white,” but that every hue comes in different sheens, including “flat,” “eggshell,” “satin,” “semi-gloss,” “gloss,” “high-gloss” and maybe more? It can be totally overwhelming.

There’s a basic rule of thumb to follow when choosing paint sheens: The higher the sheen, the higher the shine — and the higher the shine, the more durable it will be. But the other thing to consider is the general quality of paint. For instance, a good quality satin or eggshell may be more stain-resistant than a low-quality semi-gloss.

Sheen is a good indicator of stain resistance and how washable a coat of paint will be. Glossy finishes are much more stain-resistant than satin and flat. Gloss is also very easy to wipe down and wash, while low-gloss paints take a little more effort to clean. This makes higher gloss paints very useful in kitchens and bathrooms, as well as on front doors!

Here’s how to choose the right sheen for your various paint jobs:

  • KITCHEN: Requires durable, easy-to-clean paint so hi-gloss or semi-gloss is best.
  • FAMILY ROOM: Easy to clean, high-traffic areas so satin finish is recommended.
  • DINING ROOM: Clean, smooth walls in low-traffic area so go with eggshell.
  • BEDROOM: High pigment walls, low-traffic so flat or matte is best.

TIP: If your paint color is dark and rich but you don’t want a super shiny effect, step down at least one level on the sheen scale. That’s because the darker and richer the paint color is, the more colorant it has, which boosts sheen. Ditto if you’re painting a large, sun-washed, or imperfect wall. The higher the sheen, the more defects will show.

If you have any questions, let us know and we’re happy to have our experts work with you to choose the right sheen — and color — for every room in your home.

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“I can’t say enough great things about Chad and his crew. They were punctual throughout the entire project and very attentive to detail. This is the first time I’ve hired a painter and they far exceeded my expectations.”

Anna Buckler
Anna Buckler

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Anna Buckler
April 8, 2015

Chad Wek came out the same day I called for an estimate to have the exterior of my house painted. The day of the job Chad and his crew were early and ready to go. We had just purchased new walnut garage doors and asked Chad to faux paint the front door and side lights to match. His crew did an amazing job on our house, taking care to prep my new precious garage doors. I was mostly impressed that the front door matches perfectly! I really appreciated the quality of their work and customer service. Out of the 5 exterior estimates that I received, I am so glad we chose Unique Painting.