Expert Advice on Selecting the Best Paint Finishes

When choosing paint colors, it’s important to consider not only how they look, but also how well they’ll stand up to wear and tear. Sheen, or how much light a paint reflects, affects both.

Flat or matte sheens, which don’t reflect much light, are great for hiding imperfections and work well in ancillary spaces like bedrooms and home offices. They’re easy to clean, but they don’t resist stains as well.


When it comes to paint color, selecting the right shade is important, but the choice of sheen can be just as critical. Sheen levels affect how your paint looks and its durability, and it can also highlight or conceal any imperfections.

Matt paint, the lowest sheen level, creates a smooth and light-absorbing finish that works well on walls, ceilings, woodwork, and other surfaces. It can hide minor imperfections and is easy to wipe clean, but it may not be as durable as other finishes.

Silk, a mid-sheen level, offers more durability than matt and is ideal for high-traffic areas such as hallways, kitchens, and bathrooms. It can also add a touch of luxury to your space and reflect natural light to brighten up dark corners. Pair it with a contrasting flat finish, like Architects’ Matt, to create an elevated scheme. Try this palette in a bold Moroccan red shade like Caravan.


If your home has a lot of wood trim or cabinetry, you need a durable paint finish that holds up to moisture and food stains. Semi-gloss and high-gloss options are good for areas that experience a lot of physical contact and will need regular cleaning.

Satin is bang in the middle of the sheen spectrum and offers a subtle luster. It is a great option for kitchens, bathrooms and rooms with a lot of foot traffic. Because of its velvety finish, satin hides fingerprints well but doesn’t scuff as easily as glossier finishes. It can show roller and brush strokes, though, so it is important to prep properly for a smooth, even coat.

Both eggshell and satin are good choices for rooms with medium traffic, like family spaces, and children’s bedrooms. They are also durable enough for areas that might see a little more wear and tear, such as entryways and dining rooms. Like matte, they are tough on scuffs but may show more imperfections than lower sheen paints.


Offering a mirror-like shine, high-gloss is the highest sheen option and one of the most durable. It’s stain-resistant and easy to clean, making it a great choice for doors, trim and high traffic areas. It can also be used to create a dramatic, bold look for rooms in the right kind of colors. High-gloss paint reflects light and highlights any preexisting damage to walls, so proper surface prep is essential. It’s not forgiving of brush strokes or application mistakes either, so it needs a professional touch.

High-gloss paint can overwhelm a space if not used sparingly, so it’s best reserved for cabinetry, doors, wood beams, or other accent surfaces. It’s also a great choice for retail store interiors to showcase merchandise and create an inviting, expansive feel. Gloss paint also works well as a base coat to highlight decorative features or moldings. It’s a beautiful choice for front doors or black metal railings.


Flat paints are non-reflective and absorb light, making them great for hiding surface imperfections. They are also easy to clean, touch-up, and durable enough for moderate traffic areas like walls and ceilings. However, because they don’t hold up to scrubbing and washing well, they aren’t ideal for high traffic or moisture prone rooms such as powder rooms.

Satin, which is a bit glossier than matte but not as shiny as a high-gloss sheen, has a soft appearance that reflects some light and hides imperfections. It’s a good choice for areas that may need regular repainting and can stand up to moisture, such as bathrooms or kitchens.

Not sure what sheen is best for you? Get a free professional painting price quote in minutes! Choosing the right sheen can make a huge difference in your home’s look and how easy it is to keep clean. It’s a decision that can save you time, money, and stress!

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