where to use matte, satin and semi gloss

Where To Use Matte, Satin & Semi-Gloss Finishes 

September 6, 2023

Considering painting your home soon? If so, you’ve probably already encountered the vast number of color samples online or at your local paint store. That alone can overwhelm inexperienced painters or novice interior designers. But once you’ve made that seemingly insurmountable decision, you still have one more to make in regard to the paint – the finish or sheen you should use.

Many homeowners that attempt to paint the surfaces of their home, whether it be the kitchen, bathroom, dining area, or living room, don’t realize that color choice is only half of the decision-making process. Choosing the right sheen or finish can also make or break the aesthetics of a space. 

Paint Sheen Guide

Over the past few years, we have discussed paint sheen and how it can make a hue look entirely different depending on the level of glossiness. Let’s take a closer look at the main sheens and what rooms they are often used in. 

“The shininess of a paint film is referred to as its sheen. It is a measure of how much light is reflected from the surface – the shinier the surface, the higher the percent reflectance” explain the experts at Benjamin Moore Paints

The lower the level of sheen, the less the paint reflects light, thus it is more able to hide imperfections on the surface. This is perfect for homes that have walls with pockmarks or uneven drywall. 

The lower glossiness, however, means that grime and debris on the wall may be more difficult to remove or potentially damage the paint when scrubbing the surface. Conversely, the higher the glossiness, the more the light is reflected and the easier marks or stains are removed. 

To complicate matters further, sheens are not standard and many brands use different terminology to name the type and level of glossiness. We will be using the common terminology often used by Benjamin Moore for today’s blog.

Flat & Matte 

These two sheen levels are very similar as they are at the far end of the glossiness spectrum. Flat and Matte sheens are very low-luster sheen that do not have much glossiness to them at all. These two sheen levels are perfect for walls where you want to hide blemishes, imperfections, and unevenness. The low sheen level will help hide these issues. 

One thing to consider when choosing a low sheen like Flat or Matte is that they are more difficult to wipe away stains or grease marks. Therefore, high-traffic areas like stairwells, entryways, and trim, should not be painted using Flat or Matte. 

Eggshell & Satin Finishes 

These two finishes are the “Goldilocks” finish for those looking for some level of shine and ease of cleaning but not a highly reflective glossy or semi-gloss level. These sheens are not too glossy and not too flat. 

Eggshell and Satin are ideal for spaces that see lots of traffic but need the lower-level shine to allow the true color to come through. Living rooms, bathrooms, dining rooms, and bedrooms are suited for these types of sheens. 

Semi-Gloss and High Gloss 

These two finishes have the highest levels of shininess and are ideal for architectural features such as trim, molding, and kitchen cabinets. The ease of cleaning alone makes these two sheens a perfect pick to wipe away grease, fingerprints, and food stains. 

Visit the Benjamin Moore Painting site to experiment with the sheen and the color of your choosing. Use their online tools to try out your choices before you even put a sample on your wall. 

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