A guide for homeowners: How to choose a sheen of paint

How To Pick an Interior Paint Sheen: A Guide for Homeowners

How To Pick an Interior Paint Sheen: A Guide for Homeowners

You walk into a paint store, choose your dream colors and then comes this question “Which sheen would you like that in?”.  You don’t have to be stumped by this question.  Armed with a little information you can offer an A-class answer to this seemingly big question.  In this guide, we’ll explore everything you need to know about Interior Paint Sheens, including what Paint Sheen is and how to Choose the Right Sheen for each room in your house.

Understanding Paint Sheen

First off, let’s define what sheen is. Sheen is the level of glare in a paint. It is important to know that the higher the gloss, the more it will highlight imperfections because light reflects off of the sheen and thereby shows areas that flat sheens hide. Conversely, higher sheen levels provide more protection, are washable, and are more moisture-resistant than lower sheens.

Another important element to our discussion of sheens is to understand that sheens differ across paint companies. One company’s low sheen will differ from another’s, and paint companies often differ in their number of sheen offerings. Generally, paint sheens can be broken down by their level of gloss or glare, measured in percentage:

  • Flat (Less than 3% Gloss): Offers a matte finish with minimal reflection. While it masks imperfections well, it is not washable and absorbs moisture.
  • Low Sheen (3-19% Gloss): A step up from flat, offering a slight luster that makes it easier to clean than flat paint.
  • Satin (20-30% Gloss): Known for its velvety finish, satin strikes a balance between matte and gloss, providing a washable surface without excessive shine.
  • Semi-Gloss (30-45% Gloss): Highly durable and reflective, it offers significant protection against moisture and is easy to clean.

Each of these sheens serves different purposes and is suited to various rooms in your home based on traffic, maintenance needs, and the aesthetic you are hoping to achieve.

Choosing the Right Sheen for Each Room

You can confidently choose the right paint sheen for each room in your house. Here’s a general guideline to help you make an informed decision:

  • Kids’ Rooms and High-Traffic Areas: Opt for Satin or Low Sheen finishes that offer durability and ease of cleaning.
  • Bedrooms: Satin or Low Sheen provides a cozy, calming atmosphere while being easier to clean than flat finishes.
  • Ceilings: Generally, Flat sheen is used for most ceilings to reduce glare, except in bathrooms, where the same sheen as the walls is recommended to combat moisture.
  • Living Rooms: Satin or Low Sheen finishes work well, offering a subtle sheen that enhances the space without overpowering it. Satin is a more durable sheen so if you have children or pets living in your home opt for this higher sheen level.
  • Kitchens: A kitchen is a high traffic area that requires frequent wall cleaning. Satin or Semi-Gloss finishes are ideal, thanks to their moisture resistance and ease of cleaning.
  • Bathrooms: Semi-Gloss is recommended for its excellent water resistance, essential for combating mold and mildew, especially in regions like the Pacific Northwest (PNW).
  • Powder Rooms without Showers: Satin offers a sleek, easy-to-clean surface without the need for high moisture resistance.

Remember, when selecting a paint sheen, consider the room’s functionality, maintenance requirements, and the ambiance you wish to create.

Final Thoughts

Picking the right paint sheen can transform the look and feel of your home while ensuring the longevity of your walls. By understanding the characteristics and recommended uses of different paint sheens, you can make choices that not only suit the aesthetic of each room but also cater to the practical needs of your lifestyle.

Whether it’s creating a serene retreat in your bedroom with a low sheen or ensuring your kitchen withstands the hustle and bustle with a satin finish, selecting the appropriate sheen can elevate your home’s interior to new heights. If you’d like assistance choosing a paint sheen or with a painting project we are happy to help!

Flat, Gloss or Satin Paint: How Do You Choose?