Sheen’s Time to Shine

BY JESSE DARLAND ON APRIL 6TH, 2017


The majority of paints come in six different levels of sheen, which determines how shiny the paint appears once on the walls. Use any sheen if your walls are in great condition, and use flat, matte or eggshell to hide imperfections. Behr

When it comes to painting a room, it’s typical for DIYers to spend hours (or even days) poring over paint swatches trying to puzzle out the perfect color for a room.

It’s less common for them to spend an equivalent amount of time agonizing over the paint’s sheen.

But there’s a reason to pay attention. Most paint brands come in up to six different levels of sheen, which is a fancy way of describing how reflective the paint is once it’s been applied.

But what difference does sheen make, anyway? "Paint sheen affects not only the initial appearance of a paint job, but also its long-term performance," says Debbie Zimmer. "So, it's important to carefully consider your options when choosing a paint."

Zimmer should know. As spokesperson for the Paint Quality Institute and one of the “Top 100 Influencers in the Home Design Industry,” she knows her way around a paint can.

Paint sheens start at “flat,” which is the least reflective, shiny option. The amount of reflectivity increases through matte, eggshell, satin, semi-gloss and high gloss – the shiniest of all.

When choosing which sheen is best for your walls, one thing to take into account is the condition of your walls. If they’re smooth and even as can be, it doesn’t matter which sheen you pick. But if your walls have uneven sheetrock, shoddy patch jobs or other defects, a higher sheen will emphasize the problems. In cases like this, it’s better to pick a paint with less sheen.

On the other hand, shinier paints reflect more light. So if you want to brighten up your home, consider a higher sheen.

High-sheen paints are also easier to clean and last longer. For that reason, they’re popular choices for stain-prone rooms like kitchens and bathrooms. That durability also makes high-sheen paints a wise choice for baseboards and doorframes, which tend to get scuffed easily.

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