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Eggshell? Semi-gloss? How to choose the right paint sheen for your painting project

Your guide to understanding paint sheen

 

Thinking about giving a fresh new look to a tired old space?  Just as much as choosing your colour scheme is important, be sure to give some thought to selecting the sheen of your wall surfaces.

 

Paint Sheen primarily refers to the amount of light able to reflect from a surface measured by a percentage of gloss included in the paint.  Painting contractors, interior decorators, and designers also use the term finishing type to describe surface detail. 



Finishing types add a visual element to your new look.  Use flat, matte or low gloss paints to create soft, elegant colour finishes that completely absorb any light.  Eggshell, satin, and semi-gloss share most of the buying market due to the added durability that gloss lends for washability while keeping that low shine.  High gloss paints have been reserved mostly for accentating surfaces like doors, trim, molding, furniture, and sometimes ceilings.

Here's a list of on-the-market paint finishing types, an illustration and common uses.   

 

Flat 

Old School Painting explains paint sheen for your next painting project.

Absorbs all light leaving surfaces soft and elegant.  Known to mask blemishes and imperfections from construction.  Be mindful of this naturally porous finishing type as it is not easily clean and can stain.  

Keep some extra paint available for touch ups, if necessary.

 

Where to use it:

Ceilings, Livingrooms, Diningrooms, Bedrooms, Hallways
Low traffic areas

 

 

 

Matte

matteAbsorbs almost all light leaving surfaces soft and elegant.  Known to mask blemishes and imperfections from construction.  Be mindful of this naturally porous finishing type as it is not easily clean and can stain.  

Keep some extra paint available for touch ups, if necessary.

  

Where to use it:

Ceilings, Livingrooms, Diningrooms, Bedrooms, Hallways
Low traffic areas

 

 

Eggshell 

eggshellNow you're starting to introduce light reflecting from painted surfaces creating a more lively look.  The added gloss has improved the durabililty and washability making fingerprints and scuffs a snap to clean.  

The only downside to this finishing type is that touching up is not recommended due to flashing; light reflecting differently from two separate paint applications.  The wall surface finish is reflecting one way and the touch up spot reflects another.  Any patchwork to this finish must result in repainting the entire surface.     

Where to use it:

Livingrooms, Diningrooms, Bedrooms, Foyer, Kitchen, Trim, Hallways
Most typical paint for any room

   

Satin or Pearl

satin-pearl

Creates a lively, warm look.  The added gloss has improved the durabililty and washability making fingerprints and scuffs a snap to clean.  Withstands moisture, dirt, and mildew.  Recommended for use in rooms more frequented.    

Touching up not recommended due to flashing; light reflecting differently from two separate paint applications.  The wall surface finish is reflecting one way and the touch up spot reflects another.  Any patchwork to this finish must result in repainting the entire surface.  

Where to use it:

Kitchen, Laundryroom, Bathrooms, Doors, Door Trim, Window Trim, Shutters, Children's Playroom, 

 

Semi-gloss

semi-gloss

Finishes appear bright and shiny with 50% gloss content.  Durable and easy to clean.  Withstands moisture, dirt, and mildew.  Added reflectivety is known to highlight construction imperfections.  More commonly used to accent doors, trim, and woodwork rather than wall and ceiling surfaces. 

Touching up not recommended due to flashing; light reflecting differently from two separate paint applications.  The wall surface finish is reflecting one way and the touch up spot reflects another.  Any patchwork to this finish must result in repainting the entire surface.

Where to use it:

Doors, Door trim, Window Trim, Bathrooms, Kitchens, Molding, Cabinets, Baseboards 
Walls prone to staining, fingerprints

 

Gloss 

gloss

Brilliant, reflective finishes.  Durable and easy to clean.  Withstands moisture, dirt, and mildew.  Added reflectivety is known to highlight construction imperfections.  More commonly used to accent doors, trim, and woodwork rather than wall and ceiling surfaces. 

Touching up not recommended due to flashing; light reflecting differently from two separate paint applications.  The wall surface finish is reflecting one way and the touch up spot reflects another.  Any patchwork to this finish must result in repainting the entire surface.

Where to use it:

Door Trim, Window Trim, Woodwork, Cabinets, Molding
Accents

 

  

High Gloss 

high-gloss

Brilliant, reflective finishes.  Durable and easy to clean.  Withstands moisture, dirt, and mildew.  Added reflectivety is known to highlight construction imperfections.  More commonly used to accent doors, trim, and woodwork rather than wall and ceiling surfaces. 

Touching up not recommended due to flashing; light reflecting differently from two separate paint applications.  The wall surface finish is reflecting one way and the touch up spot reflects another.  Any patchwork to this finish must result in repainting the entire surface.

Where to use it:

Ceilings, Livingrooms, Diningrooms, Bedrooms, Hallways
Low traffic areas

 

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