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Painting 101 – Paint Sheen

Paint sheen, like color, is a personal choice.  But, did you know that the choice of paint sheen will affect the overall look of a room, washabilty, and any desired hiding of wall or ceiling flaws. Paint is generally sold in 4 distinct sheens with a variety of slight variations of each level. Flat, Satin, Semi-Gloss and Gloss. Also popular offerings are Matte, Eggshell and High Gloss.  Two good rules of thumb are: The least amount of sheen offers the least washability and the higher the sheen the more sheetrock or plaster flaws will show (also, the touch up quality suffers with the higher sheen).

New Orleans Renovation Bath

Flat paints are best for ceilings and low traffic areas such as bedrooms, home offices, or formal living areas. A matte finish has a very slight sheen above flat and might be used in the same areas. Satin and Eggshell are often used interchangeably and are great in medium traffic areas such as dens, kitchens, baths, hallways, mudrooms. Semi-gloss is most often used for high washibility on woodwork, baseboards, doors and casings, and windows. In addition, Semi-gloss may be used when more washibilty is desired in wet areas and cooking areas such as baths, laundry rooms, and kitchens (especially in the absence of back-splash and tile work).

For exterior applications, Satin is great for weatherboards and porch ceilings.  Semi-Gloss is good for all doors, windows, and trim work as used inside. At times a Gloss or High-Gloss my be desired especially for the enhancement of architectural details, millwork, fine cabinetry, and crown moldings. Paint sheens are not universally the same from one company to the next. What one company calls “gloss” may be considered “semi-gloss” at another.  So be sure to check with the manufacturer and get a sample to be sure you are getting the desired sheen.