How to choose the best paint sheen: difference between flat and high-gloss

As there are countless paints available on the market, choosing the right product can be very difficult for the amateur. A common mistake is to buy the wrong finish. So here are a few tips from a professional painter to help you in choosing the paint finish that will best suit your project.

What’s a paint finish (paint sheen)?

We call paint finish or paint sheen the degree of brightness of a given paint. They can be divided into five categories: flat (matte), eggshell, satin, semi-gloss and high gloss.

How to use the different types of finish

Matte (flat) paint: the paint that has a matte finish is commonly called « ceiling paint », we mainly use it to paint ceilings. The advantage of a matte sheen is that it hides the surface imperfections (holes, peaks and other irregularities). In fact, the light reflects much less on a matte ceiling, which means your eye won’t see it as much. And just like any piece of furniture is there to hide the ceiling, the ceiling is always exposed to the light, hence the importance of choosing a finish that will reflect the less possible.

Eggshell paint: the eggshell sheen is the most popular for interior paint. It reflects less than 10% of the light. We use it on most of the residential interior walls. The surface defects are not very exposed. However, the eggshell finish is not very washable, which means that the color could disappear if you scrub it.

Satin paint: we prefer the satin paint for corridors and rooms where there is much traffic like the bathroom, kitchen and playroom. Satin paints are easily washable.

Semi-gloss and high gloss paint: even though those two types of finish are still sold in all paint retailers, we almost never use them for complete walls, because the roller strokes and edging demarcation lines will show more. Don’t forget that the higher the sheen is, the more the surface imperfections will be highlighted because light will reflect on them. This means you will need to wash more often a high gloss paint. The advantage of glossy finish is its great washability. We recommend this type of finish only for woodwork, door frames, and moldings. Of course, it’s preferable to call upon an experienced painter to apply a gloss paint using a roller.

Professional painters from the FinDecor painting company have an excellent knowledge of the different finishes and they use the best paint products available on the market. Call upon a team of certified building painters for quality results!

Dave Beaupre