blue paint high gloss on home paint brush

How to Choose Paint Finishes | Paint Sheen Guide

This complete paint sheen guide will help you pick the right home paint finishes for your next interior painting project.

Home Paint Finishes.

One of the most important things to think about when picking paint for any space in your home is the sheen level or finish of the paint. House paint comes in several different finishes or sheen levels, and understanding your options will result in a better painting process and outcome.

The last thing you would want to do is repaint because you chose the wrong finish, resulting in wasted money and time. In this blog, we will cover everything you need to know about paint finishes (from Flat to High gloss) and where to use each level of sheen in your home. 

Before we get into what products we recommend for each of your home spaces based on sheen level, let’s go over what sheen means.

What is Paint Sheen?

Sheen is basically how shiny a surface looks after it has been painted. The term refers to the amount of light that reflects off the surface, no matter the color the paint is. Sheen level is measured on a scale of 0(no shine) to 100(a lot of shine). The amount of light that reflects off the surface is measured at an 85-degree angle.

What is Paint Gloss then?

You may hear people use the terms sheen and gloss interchangeably. That’s because they mean the same thing. Just like Sheen, gloss also refers to the amount of light that reflects off a painted surface. It is also measured on a scale of 0-100. The closer the measurement is to 100 the shinier and glossier the paint.

What is the difference between Sheen & Gloss?

Gloss is measured at a 60-degree angle and Sheen is measured at a 85-degree angle.

Glossier paint is also more noticeable to the naked eye. Glossy paint is more shiny and crisp whereas, sheen feels softer.

Even though the terms gloss and sheen are similar in definition, they are not mutually exclusive. Some paints have a higher gloss level, and others will have a high sheen level and some have both. Another thing to keep in mind is that different paint brands often vary on sheen and gloss levels. Always ask for a sample you can try out on your surfaces before committing to buying a gallon of paint.

What are the different Paint Sheen/Gloss level?

As we said, sheen and gloss levels range from 0 (no shine) to 100 (a lot of shine). Different levels of sheen have different effects on how a color will look in a room. So when picking a sheen think about the space you will be painting. How much light does that room get? Is it a high-traffic area?

Sheen and gloss levels are also closely connected to the durability of the paint. As you can see from the graph below, the higher the sheen level the more durable it is.

Paint Sheen/Gloss Levels.

Flat, Matte: Paints with no sheen or class are called either Flat or Matte. Flat finishes are less durable, but the upside is that they hide more imperfections on the surface. They are great for ceilings.
Eggshell: Eggshell has a higher sheen than flat finishes and is great for most surfaces in your home. It can be used on living room walls, trim and kitchen cabinets.
Satin: Very similar to Eggshell when it comes to sheen and durability. Can be used on most surfaces in your home. We recommend that you don’t use it for ceilings.
Semi-gloss & High Gloss: Gloss Paint has a high sheen, which means it’s exceptionally reflective. Semi-gloss paint has some sheen but not nearly as much as High-gloss paint. High gloss paint will reveal all imperfections on a surface but is excellent at resisting dirt and moisture. Higher Sheen/Gloss Paint is great for high traffic areas because they are so durable. Consider gloss finishes as a tool to help accentuate architectural features, like doors, windows, and ceiling moldings.

Paint products by Sheen level | Sherwin Williams.

Below is a list of Sherwin-Williams paints categorized by their sheen level. All of these Sherwin-William formulas can be tinted to any color you would like. They offer over 1,700 paint color choices!

Flat Finish Paint Formula.

Sherwin Williams ProMar Ceiling is a great flat finish for your home ceilings. A super flat finish that hides surface imperfections and provides great coverage.

Eggshell Finish Paint Formula.

ProMar 200 Hp by Sherwin Williams. It’s a Zero VOC Interior Acrylic. It’s high-performance durability, abrasion-resistant formula.

Satin Finish Paint Formula.

Emerald Interior Acrylic Latex Paint, is designed for doors and trim, walls, and shutters. It’s washable and contains agents that stop the growth of mold and mildew.

Semi-Gloss & High-Gloss Paint Formula.

Pro Classic Waterborne Interior Acrylic Enamel is a smooth & luxurious finish on interior doors and trim. It’s very durable and can withstand wear and tear. It comes in both semi-gloss and high gloss