Sep 6, 2011


Using the proper sheen of paint is as important as selecting the right color. Gone are the days when all kitchens and baths need to be in semi-gloss sheen for protection from moisture. 

FLAT: This is the best choice for walls with many imperfections. Use on ceilings and bedroom, dining-room, and living-room walls.  Flat finishes are easy to touch up but hard to clean so I rarely recommend this sheen for walls. 

MATTE: A wonderful sheen for kitchens and hallways where frequent touch-up may be required. Benjamin Moore Regal Matte Finish or California Paints Super-Scrub Matte Finish, has good washability.

The ceiling of older homes are best
painted in flat sheen to hide cracks and
nail heads.

EGGSHELL  This low-sheen finish is an ideal choice for living-room or bedroom walls. Do not use in high-traffic areas, like hallways, because the delicate finish mars easily. Eggshell has a washable finish but in areas where you touch up, the sheen will be slightly bolder than the rest of the walls. I recommend doing a large area and hiding the 'seams'.

SATIN: With a silky, pearl-like sheen, it's a good choice for woodwork as well as walls in the family room, children's rooms, laundry room, kitchen, and bathrooms. Satin has a warm finish that's scrubbable. Like Eggshell, it's more difficult to touch up because any difference in sheen will be apparent.

SEMIGLOSS: Semigloss is a popular choice for trim and moldings, and is also ideal for kitchen and bathroom walls because it is more resistant to humidity and withstands stains, chipping, and scuffing.  Durable and easy to clean, it's the most scrubbable sheen for walls. However, semigloss is more difficult to touch up because the difference in sheen may show up more easily.
Semi-gloss paint makes this bench
durable and easy to clean.

GLOSS: This sheen is rarely used on walls because it shows imperfections like a mirror does. It is typically used on woodwork, trim, moldings, and works well only for surfaces that are truly smooth. It's the most durable finish and the easiest to clean, yet is the most difficult to touch up because the difference in sheen may show up more easily.