Paint sheen refers to the amount of sheen (or gloss) the specific paint has on its formula. The higher the paint sheen, the more glossy and shiny the finish will be.
The amount of sheen determines the finish’s glossiness, durability, dry time, and whether the finish hides imperfections or not.
Common paint sheen types include the following.
- Flat or Matte.
1. Flat or Matte Paint Sheen
Flat or matte paint is a paint type known for its lack of sheen (gloss) on its formula. It creates a dry and colorful finish which is used in low-traffic areas as it isn’t durable or protective.
Since flat (or matte) paint has no sheen but has a high paint pigment amount, its finish has no reflection but it covers and hides surface imperfections better.
Flat paint takes between 30 minutes to 1 hour to dry between coats and 2-4 hours to cure (fully dry).
Matte paint is ideal for bedrooms, wood, decorative surfaces, or other surfaces that aren’t exposed to constant water, dust, dirt, or stains. Use it if you want a dull texture finish.
Don’t use matte paint for outdoor surfaces or exteriors as the paint will get removed or damaged if exposed to constant water or weather elements.
The flat (matte) paint sheen advantages are listed below.
- Good coverage for wide and large areas.
- Easy to apply and dries fast.
- Dry textured finish.
- Hides imperfections and blemishes on surfaces.
The flat (matte) paint sheen disadvantages are listed below.
- The paint isn’t durable and shouldn’t be used for outdoor surfaces.
- It doesn’t repel water and is easily removed.
- Hard to clean.
2. Eggshell Paint Sheen
Eggshell paint is a type of paint that has more sheen (gloss) than flat paint, but less than other paint sheens. It’s known for its slightly reflective finish that is similar to an eggshell (hence the name).
The eggshell paint finish is durable and stain-resistant enough for surfaces that experience small wear and tear but aren’t exposed to constant water nor need constant cleaning. It’s a perfect paint finish for surfaces in transition areas, such as hallways.
Water-based eggshell paint takes around 2 hours to dry between coats and 12-24 hours to cure. Oil-based eggshell paint takes around 4 hours to dry between coats and 24-48 hours to cure.
The eggshell paint sheen advantages are listed below.
- Easy to wipe and clean.
- Easy to apply.
- Good coverage on wide surfaces.
- Resists stains better than a flat finish.
- Lustrous finish.
The eggshell paint sheen disadvantages are listed below.
- Not durable enough for high-traffic surfaces.
- Hard to touch up.
3. Satin Paint Sheen
Satin paint is a type of paint that has more sheen (gloss) than matte or eggshell paint, but less than semi-gloss and high-gloss paint. It’s known for its moderate sheen (glossy) finish, durability, and easy to maintain finish.
Satin paint is used for interior low to medium traffic surfaces that experience wear and tear and can withstand light cleaning. It’s a perfect balance between a shiny and durable finish.
Satin paint takes around 1-2 hours to dry between coats and 24 hours to cure (fully dry).
The satin paint sheen advantages are listed below.
- It’s more durable than an eggshell paint.
- You can apply it on moderate-traffic surfaces.
- Fast dry time.
- Easy to clean and maintain.
- Moderate shiny finish.
The satin paint sheen disadvantages are listed below.
- Only hides small surface imperfections.
- Less durable than semi-gloss and high-gloss finishes.
- Not good enough for high-traffic surfaces.
4. Semi-Gloss Paint Sheen
Semi-gloss paint has the second most sheen (gloss) of all paint finishes. It’s known for its glossy (shiny) finish and high durability or protection.
Semi-gloss paint is used for medium to high-traffic surfaces, such as trim work, doors, windows, or kitchen cabinets, that experience wear and tear and are exposed to water.
You must sand between semi-gloss coats to remove the paint gloss that prevents proper adhesion. Semi-gloss paint takes around 2-3 hours to dry between coats and around 12-24 hours to cure (fully dry).
The semi-gloss paint sheen advantages are listed below.
- Shiny (glossy) and reflective finish.
- Durable and moisture-resistant.
- Easy to clean.
- You can use it for medium-traffic surfaces.
The semi-gloss paint sheen disadvantages are listed below.
- Doesn’t hide imperfections well.
- It has more luster than pigments so they don’t give a colorful finish.
5. High-Gloss Paint Sheen
High-gloss paint has the highest sheen (gloss) amount compared to other paint types. It’s known for its highly shiny and reflective, moisture-resistant, and non-porous finish.
High-gloss paint is used for medium and high-traffic surfaces that experience heavy wear and tear, such as interior and exterior trims, doors, furniture, and cabinets.
The high-gloss paint sheen advantages are listed below.
- Shiny and reflective finish.
- Moisture-resistant and durable.
- Easy to clean and maintain.
- Last longer.
- You can apply it on outdoor surfaces.
The high-gloss paint sheen disadvantages are listed below.
- Its glossy finish reveals surface imperfections.
- Hard to paint over it.
- Long dry time.
Which Paint Sheen Finish To Use Based on Room Types?
Use eggshell paint sheen for bedroom walls as it has a slightly glossy finish that is durable enough for low-traffic surfaces.
Use satin paint sheen for living room walls. If the living room walls are uneven, use an eggshell finish as it hides wall imperfections and blemishes better.
Use high-gloss paint sheen for outdoor surfaces as the paint has the highest durability and is protective enough for surfaces that experience high wear and tear.
High-gloss paint finishes are water-resistant and can withstand weather elements, such as rain or snow, without getting removed.
Use semi-gloss paint for outdoor surfaces that aren’t exposed to weather elements or constant water.
Don’t use flat, satin, or eggshell paint outdoors as these paint finishes aren’t durable enough to withstand weather elements and will get removed if exposed to constant water or rainfall.