How to Pick the Right Sheen of Paint - Matt the Painter

How to Pick the Right Sheen of Paint

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How to Pick the Right Sheen of Paint

how to choose paint sheen

When you are painting the interior of your house, you need to pick the right paint sheen. Typically, paint sheens range from flat to a high-gloss. In addition to the sheen of the paint, there are ratings of the enamel of the paint. Enamel paint has no single generally accepted definition, but it generally refers to an oil-based paint with a hard, opaque exterior coat. The type of paint you use will depend on your aesthetic choices as well as the amount of traffic that each room experiences. The enamel paints tend to have an opaque surface; therefore, they are best for high-traffic areas. Here are some guidelines.

Flat and Matte Paints

Flat and matte paints are those that do not have much sheen or gloss to their finish. They tend to be utilitarian paint colors that are not particularly vibrant. However, a flat or matte paint can hide imperfections in the wall’s surface very well. When paint is reflective, it can actually enhance the appearance of imperfections because it will catch and reflect away from scratches and dents. Therefore, if you have a matte finish, it can hide some of them because it does not enhance the light being reflected from the wall. However, matte finishes tend to be a little duller than glossy finishes, as well as slightly more absorbent. They do not have the hard exterior shell like an enamel paint would. Therefore, flat or matte paints are best used in low-traffic areas that do not get much use and won’t face much moisture.

High-Gloss Enamel

A high-gloss enamel will emphasize imperfections in your walls; therefore, you will need to do preparatory work before you apply the paint. Such prep work generally means filling in scratches, dents, nail holes, and similar imperfections with a repair putty or caulk. Once that is dry, you need to sand it smooth to the wall. Finally, make sure you apply a good coat of primer to cover up any tiny imperfections and block any moisture. Then, you can apply a coat of a high-gloss enamel paint to your high-traffic area.

High-gloss paint will have a hard, oil-based finish that is much more resistant to moisture, which makes it appropriate for high-traffic areas along with areas that have moisture in the air. Typically, if you are painting a kitchen or a bathroom, an enamel paint is a good choice.


The sheen of paint you choose will also have aesthetic considerations. You need to choose a sheen that will look good with the color you picked out and with the room you are painting. For example, a matte color will likely look best with neutral tones. High-gloss will likely look best with vibrant and vivid colors. Matching the right sheen to the right color can definitely enhance the look of any room. There are also sheens in between just matte and high-gloss. There are satin enamel, semi-gloss, and a few others depending on the manufacturer. Many of these might be appropriate for your project.

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