Skip to content

How To Choose The Right Paint Sheen

If you’re about to begin a painting project or in the middle of one, then you’ve come to the right place to find out how to choose your paint sheen. Read this guide now.

How To Choose The Right Paint Sheen - All Climate Painting

Thinking of renovating a room in your home? Need to repaint some furniture to give it a new lease of life? Whatever you need to do, you can get the look you need with the right paint. There are many different types of paints out there with different finishes. Which one is right for you?

Here’s a guide to help get the best look for your home.

Picking The Right Paint Sheen

When it comes to paint, most paints are made up of three different things:

  1. Pigment: This comes in the form of a powder or chalk, and this is what gives the paints its color.
  2. Resin: This acts like glue to hold the paint to the wall.
  3. Solvent: This is usually either water or oil.

These three ingredients, when used in different ratios, are what give a paint a different finish. This is also referred to as a sheen, as the finish affects how the paint reflects light. A flat paint will have more pigment and reflect less light, and a high gloss one will have more resin which reflects more light. 

These properties will affect how and where you should use paint. Use the following guide to pick the right paint sheen for you.

Flat And Matte Finishes

A flat or matte paint is going to be perfect anywhere you need to cover up marks in paint. The paint soaks up light, so it’s very forgiving of a stained or rough surface. Many like to use them on a stucco surface, or a wall with a less than perfect patch job. You can also use it on a popcorn ceiling to mask any issues with these.

Of course, you don’t need to have problems with the wall to use a matte paint. Some people really like the look of it, and so they use it in their homes even if the walls are perfect.

The downside to these paints is that they don’t stand up to a lot of wear. If they take any knocks or scuffs, it’s hard to clean the marks off without taking the paint off too. As such, it’s better used in adult bedrooms, or anywhere it won’t see a lot of heavy use.

Eggshell Finishes

An eggshell finish is so named because it’s the sweet spot between matte and satin finishes. It gives a flat sheen with a little lustre, which looks something like a chicken’s egg. It’s the best of both worlds, and so it’s commonly the best choice for areas like living and dining rooms.

An eggshell finish will still cover any imperfections in the walls, while still giving a small amount of shine. It is also possible to clean light marks off it without removing the paint. 

Satin Finishes

Despite the name, a satin sheen actually looks more velvety when applied. It has a great sheen to it and looks good on most walls. Many choose to use them in high traffic areas, as they are easy to clean and can take all kinds of scuffs with ease.

The one problem with a satin finish is that they are not forgiving of marks and cracks in the walls. It also shows brush strokes easily, so making any touch ups down the line may be difficult. 

Semi Gloss And High Gloss Finishes

Finally, there are semi gloss and high gloss finishes. As the name implies, these contain a lot of resin so they’re very shiny and glossy when applied. They’re most often used on accents, such as wood trims, banisters, and so on. It draws attention to the area and helps it bounce light around.

An old trick is to paint a ceiling with a high gloss paint, to help bounce light around a darker room. If the ceiling is untextured, that’s still something that you can try.

Another bonus when using these paints is that they are very easily cleaned. That makes them a good pick for high traffic areas, such as hallways. However, they are very unforgiving of cracks and marks, so you’ll need to prep the area well before painting.

A semi gloss will work best in kitchens and bathrooms, anywhere where moisture and grease stains can happen. High gloss is great for anywhere you touch regularly, such as cabinet doors.

Where To Use Each Paint

Now you know the benefits of each paint finish, you’ll need to think about where they’re best used. What room are you painting? This will affect the paint you choose.

  • Kitchen: This room needs you to be able to clean the walls easily, as spills are going to happen. In this case, a semi or high gloss paint is going to be best.
  • Bathroom: A semi gloss paint will work here, as you’ll be able to clean up any marks that are left on the paint.
  • Living room: The paint finish you use here will depend on your needs and your family. If you have older children or only adults who live in your home, an eggshell finish will be best. If you have young kids or pets, a stain finish works best as it can be easily cleaned.
  • Dining room: Again, an eggshell finish works well here as you shouldn’t see much traffic here, and so scuffs and marks will be kept to a minimum.
  • Bedrooms: The finish you use here will depend on who is using the bedroom. Adult bedrooms can use matte paints, as they won’t be subject to scuffing. It saves money too, which is always good news. If it’s a child’s bedroom, you can pick an eggshell or satin finish to help it stand up to any marks.


There are more paint finishes out there than you may realize. With the right amount of care though, you can pick the right finish and get the best look for your home. Use this guide to understand the differences between the paints, and you’ll get the best finish every time.