Paint Sheen Guide

When choosing the right paint for a space, you might think that color is the most significant factor. While selecting a suitable color is vital, the paint sheen also plays a major role. Using the right paint sheen can help tone down or bring out certain colors while enhancing the overall look of the paint.

What Is Paint Sheen?

Paint sheen refers to the degree of luster from a paint finish. Various types of paints reflect light at different degrees, resulting in varying levels of glow. The higher the percentage of sheen, the glossier and more durable the paint. Different levels of paint sheen can be found in every paint formula. Depending on the one you choose, the sheen will significantly impact the finished look of your paints.

What Are the Different Types of Paint Sheen?

The different types of interior paint sheen have different degrees of shine. Choosing the paint sheen that best suits the room will be determined by the look you’re trying to achieve and what the room will be used for. Here are the different types of paint sheen and how to best use them in your space:


Flat paints barely reflect light and have little to no gloss. Flat paint can effectively cover imperfections such as dents or roughness since it has a smooth appearance. This paint yields incredible coverage with a pigment-rich finish.

Flat paint has a porous texture that absorbs and traps dirt or stains, making cleaning and maintenance a bit challenging. It is best to use this type of sheen in low-traffic areas such as ceilings, living rooms and adult bedrooms where children are rarely present.


Matte has a slightly glossier sheen than flat paint but is still considered low gloss. This paint absorbs rather than reflects light, giving it a powdery finish resembling velvet. Matte sheen contains high pigment content, making it a great option for covering surface-level imperfections. It also offers outstanding depth and balances out bolder colors, enabling you to explore a wide range of hues.

While it has undeniable aesthetic value, matte paints are less resistant to scuffs and stains than glossier finishes. When you use matte sheen in your home or business, be sure to use it in low-traffic rooms where spills or scuffs are less likely.


Eggshell is a sheen with low luster and a smooth appearance. Its subtle sheen can be enhanced with brighter lighting and dimmed down under low lighting. Unlike flat and matte sheens, eggshell paint’s low luster creates a warm glow in a space. Eggshell sheen also results in less visible brushstrokes, enabling it to conceal imperfections better than higher-sheen paints.

This paint sheen is ideal for medium-traffic areas like family rooms, hallways or entryways. It works well in these areas because it contains enough gloss to prevent stains from soaking in. You will find that this option is easier to maintain than flat or matte paints.


Satin sheen is another balanced selection, slightly glossier than eggshell but flatter than semi-gloss and high gloss. It is considered a durable and versatile sheen with an elegant finish that works perfectly in various settings. Satin is an excellent choice for elevating color, and the shine can add depth to a room.

A satin finish has tight pores that prevent stains from penetrating the surface, making it easier to clean than lower-gloss sheens. The closed pores also make satin slightly better at withstanding water and moisture, making it the ideal choice for bathrooms and kitchens. You’ll often find this sheen level used in high-traffic rooms, including children’s rooms and offices.


Semi-gloss has a higher percentage of sheen than satin and other lower-gloss paints, so it reflects a significant amount of light. This type of paint usually contains a concentration of polyurethane, which is responsible for its shine and protects against water and moisture. Due to its moisture resistance, semi-gloss works well in laundry rooms, bathrooms, kitchens, and other high-traffic and high-humidity spaces.

Since semi-gloss has a higher shine, it is not the best choice for concealing imperfections on large surfaces.

High Gloss

High gloss sheen is the most light reflective and shiny of all paint sheens. It also has the highest level of durability, stain and moisture resistance. When applied on a surface, it creates a mirrorlike finish that elevates accent pieces and makes them stand out. High gloss is a popular choice for doors, cabinets, furniture and trim. However, the light reflectiveness draws attention to preexisting blemishes on the surface rather than concealing them, so it requires professional surface preparation and application.

Get the Best Paint Finishes With Shoreline High Gloss

At Shoreline High Gloss, we specialize in high-end gloss finishes. As a Fine Paints of Europe Master Certified Painter, we have extensive expertise in high gloss painting and only use premium, long-lasting paints to create a luxurious and elegant finish. Contact us today to learn more about the types of interior paint sheen we apply and start planning your project.