various paint sheens

What Do You Mean Sheen???

Winter is here and now you can tackle some of those indoor projects.  If painting is among those projects you might think choosing your color is the hardest part of the project.  You might be wrong.  When you proudly take your painstakingly selected color swatch to the counter to have your paint made they are going to ask you a question that may leave you looking like a deer in headlights. 


So, What Sheen Would You Like?

 I often like to catch the expressions of unknowing customers at the paint stores being asked this question.  I, too, was a victim of such question.  Before I began working at this elite painting company I was just an ordinary home owner trying to save a few bucks on some paint to slap on the walls of my new home.  I came across a very affordable five-gallon bucket of paint.  It was an off-white bucket of paint in an eggshell sheen.  I vividly remember showing off my freshly painted walls and exclaiming how much I loved that eggshell color throughout my house.  I felt like an idiot when I was quickly corrected.  The only thing I knew about Sheen was that I sometimes enjoyed his acting abilities.  Save yourself the same embarrassment that I once felt and allow us to educate you on this often confusing topic.

Paints are available in several different sheens. Before you select the sheen that you will use for your room, it’s important to understand the qualities that each one offers. 

Paints without a shine or sheen are referred to as flat or matte finishes. They diffuse the light reflecting off the paint.  A semi-gloss or glossy sheen reflects light more directly, much as a mirror reflects light, which will create a slight shine off the surface.

Nearly every sheen can be used in any room of the house, but some are better suited for high-traffic areas than others. If the sheen you want falls somewhere in-between two styles, you can always mix them together to find a finish that falls somewhere in the middle.

paint sheen examples


  • Provides a smooth, subtle finish with no sheen
  • Camouflages wall imperfections
  • Difficult to clean
  • Needs to be touched up often
  • Best used for low traffic rooms
  • Ideal for ceilings, closets and media rooms



  • Offers a velvety elegant low sheen finish
  • A bit more washable than flat sheens
  • Acceptable for any room
  • Ideal for closets, bedrooms, media rooms




Satin (Men In White Painting’s Most Preferred)


  • Provides elegant finish
  • Soft sheen reflects light
  • Ideal for more active rooms
  • Extremely versatile
  • Used indoors and outdoors
  • Can be wiped clean
  • Ideal for any room of the home




  • Scrubs clean with ease (used on hospital walls)
  • Semi shine sheen reflects light to create shine
  • Ideal for high traffic areas
  • Used indoors and outdoors
  • Ideal for trim, doors, molding and cabinets




  • Scrubbed clean with ease
  • Offers a smooth high shine finish
  • Best for surfaces that require frequent washing
  • Creates a plastic like look
  • Ideal for trim and woodwork

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *