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There are many sheens to choose from when it comes time to paint. Which sheens to use and where depend upon what area you are painting and personal taste.
Flat and matte paints have the lowest sheen level. Flat & matte paints don’t reflect as much light. They are forgiving for hiding surface flaws and imperfect drywall repairs/installations. They are ideal for using on ceilings and walls in low traffic areas. If you are looking for a smooth and elegant finish that will touch up easier this is a good choice. A downside of these sheens is they are not as durable and will burnish when scrubbed if you try to clean them. They also will absorb dirt more than higher sheen paints
Eggshell/Low-Lustre paints will have a little more sheen comparable to the surface of the shell of an egg. This low sheen finish will be slightly more durable than flat/matte paints. It can be used on ceilings and walls in most areas. We use eggshell/low-lustre paints a majority of the time on walls that we paint. It won’t be as durable as for moisture and scrubbing as a satin, semigloss and gloss paints.
A Satin finish has more sheen than an eggshell/low-lustre. It will reflect more light and be better at resisting dirt, stains, and mildew. This paint is a good choice for bathrooms, kitchens, and high traffic areas. It can be cleaned easier without the risk of it burnishing. Satin is my preferred sheen for painting the exterior of houses, because of its durability and ability to reflect the most damaging element of mother nature…ultraviolet light from the sun. As the sheen level rises the less forgiving the paint is for application errors where brush strokes and roller marks will appear.
Semi-gloss paints create a shiny and bright appearance. This reflective finish is more resistant to moisture, scrubbing, and is durable to wear & tear. It is used predominantly on trim such as doors, baseboards, windows and railings. Bathrooms and kitchens are place where it can be used on ceilings and/or walls. The downside is it will magnify surface imperfections and poor application techniques. It will also be more difficult to touch up and have a higher probability of flashing.
Gloss offers the highest level of sheen. It provides a hard and very reflective surface. Gloss is used like semi-gloss on trim and areas that you want to draw attention to or “pop”…like a front door. When using gloss paint it is a best practice to make sure you have been very diligent in making the surface you are to paint free of imperfections and smooth as possible before painting. The best way to apply is through a paint sprayer.
There are some lower sheen specialty paints that can be used on bathroom walls and ceilings that offer the benefits of satin and semi-gloss sheens. Not every bathroom or kitchen needs satin or semi-gloss paint. This will depend upon on how often it is used, size, and venting of moisture by an exhaust fan. Personal taste is a factor in choosing sheen. Some people prefer the look of a higher sheen surface that is bright and shiny. Others like a softer look for their walls that won’t detract attention away from their art, furnishings and decor. Each situation is unique depending upon your household, room and preferences. It is wise get a sample of the colors & sheens you are considering and place them up to help you make your decision. This way you can proceed with confidence on your next painting project.