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.
Flat paint has no shine; high-gloss is all shine. In between, you have eggshell, satin, and semi-gloss, each having its own practical and decorative job to do. Here’s how to choose the right paint sheen for your painting job.
High Gloss: The most durable and easiest to clean of all paint sheens, high-gloss paint is light-reflecting, ultra-shiny, and hard.
High gloss is a good choice for an area where sticky fingers come in contact with the surface — cabinets, trim, and doors. High-gloss, however, is too much shine for interior walls. A warning- Don’t skimp on prep work when working with high gloss paint. Much like a Spandex dress, high gloss will show every bump and roll on the finished surface.
Semi-Gloss: Good for rooms where moisture, drips, and grease stains challenge walls. Also great for trim work that takes a lot of abuse.
Satin: Has a yummy luster that, despite the name, is often described as velvety. It’s an excellent choice for high-traffic areas as it is easy to clean. The biggest flaw- it reveals application flaws, such as roller or brush strokes. Touch-ups later can be tricky.
Eggshell: Between satin and flat on the sheen (and durability) scale is eggshell, so named because it’s essentially a flat (no-shine) finish with little luster, like a chicken’s egg. Eggshell covers wall imperfections well and is a great finish for gathering spaces that don’t get a lot of bumps and scuffs.
Flat or Matte: This finish is a friend to walls that have something to hide, flat/matte soaks up, rather than reflects, light. It has the most pigment and will provide the most coverage, which translates to time and money savings. However, it’s tough to clean without taking paint off with the grime.
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