You picked your palette, taped color swatches all over the walls and finally selected the right shade of paint for every room in your new home.

But have you thought about sheen?

Sheen generally goes from flat (no shine) to glossy (ultra-shiny), with matte, eggshell, satin, and semi-gloss in between.

Paint glossiness is determined by the paint’s chemistry. The higher the gloss, the higher the ratio of resins and less pigment volume concentration (PVC). Flat paints have a much larger ratio of pigments and a lower ratio of resins.

More sheen means easier to clean because glossy paint is harder and better withstands wear and tear. Flat paint is more porous so dirt and fingerprints show up faster.

So, which finish for which rooms?


Low sheen matte finishes are non-reflective and best used on ceilings and in low-traffic areas such as living rooms, dining rooms, adult bedrooms and home offices.


Like its namesake, eggshell paint has a soft sheen. A perfect, medium-durability finish with minimal shine, eggshell can be used in nearly any room, from family to living to dining, in bedrooms, and hallways.


Satin sheen is an excellent choice for high-traffic areas and places exposed to moisture like bathrooms. Also excellent on doors, trim and crown molding. It does have a slight shine so extra prep work is needed to smooth out any imperfections.


Highly durable, semi-gloss is a great choice for areas often touched: cabinets, doors, chair railings, baseboards and trim. The higher sheen will highlight architectural features and contrast nicely with wall surfaces. Great for children’s playrooms.


With its brilliant, very shiny appearance, high-gloss paint is highly light reflective and a great choice for accent trim you want to pop.

The paint finish you choose affects the way you see the color. Consider how your rooms will look and feel when they are lived in.

Lower sheen paint will soak up more light rather than reflecting it. A flat finish, especially on ceilings is less distracting because light isn’t bouncing off the surface. Painting a whole room in semi-gloss would feel “noisy” with a lot of glare reflected, not a very peaceful environment.

Finding the right finish is just as important as selecting the right shade.

Your design concierge is here to help. Give us a call.

Photo credit: Benjamin Moore