Paint Sheen: Glossy Or Flat?

Numerous crucial choices must be made during a painting project, and choosing the appropriate paint sheen is definitely one of the most important considerations.

I believe nothing can beat the professionals when it comes to a sophisticated finish, but I can’t help but love DIYs. For my kitchen repainting project, I was confused between a glossy and a flat sheen.


The main difference lies in their degree of glossiness. Glossy paints are really shiny, reflecting more light than flat paints. The latter is smooth and matte. It’s not like they don’t reflect light, just now as much as a glossy paint finish would.

So we can say while glossy paints have the most light-reflective properties, flat paints have the least. And I think both can have their own benefits based on where they are to be applied and what look you’re after.

As for durability, a glossy sheen is way more durable. So it’s best for places with the most traffic or where your and other house occupants are most likely to touch, like cabinets, trim, doors, etc. This finish is also much easier to clean and maintain. The flat sheen, on the other hand, will do better where there is the least traffic and it needs more maintenance and care.

Trying Different Samples

Now some people are better at visualizing than others, and I’m one of the others. I have a hard time figuring out what end result I’d like by just closing my eyes and imagining like other gifted beings.

If you’re like me, don’t worry. There are ways around it.

Before we choose a paint sheen, we can try out different samples or swatches. Now, these can be directly applied on a very small surface in the place where you want the paint, like a wall or a cabinet, or you can even go for a cardboard or foam board.

Either way, the paint has to be allowed to dry for at least 24 hours to get a real picture of how the paint will look. As you apply the paint, it may appear more glossy than when it has completely dried.

One other thing to consider is the room’s lighting. It can be deceiving and influence the color of your paint.

Other options

I may have started talking about two types of paint sheens, but there are more. You can have semi-gloss, satin, egg-shell, etc., among other options.

Check these out in case you’re looking for a different look. Of course, a lot of what you can go for depends on what you have.


Semi-gloss finishes offer a moderate level of shine and are well-suited for spaces that need extra attention, including bathrooms, kitchens, garage doors, and metal gutters. Despite being easy to clean, they can reveal imperfections, much like high-gloss finishes.

Satin: The Adaptable Soft Touch

Satin finishes boast remarkable versatility and a gentle, velvety feel. Their durability and ease of cleaning make them perfect for lively areas such as family rooms, kids’ bedrooms, playrooms, window frames, and laundry rooms. For enhanced results, choose a high-quality paint. Satin is a popular pick for trim, baseboards, doors, and cabinets.

Eggshell or Matte

Eggshell (or matte) finishes deliver a subtle sheen and are excellent at hiding flaws. Ideal for low-traffic spaces like dining rooms, less-busy hallways, and adult bedrooms, they don’t clean as easily as glossier options. However, they remain a top choice for walls among paint professionals.

Selecting the ideal paint sheen for your home is a crucial aspect of any painting project. Whether you prefer glossy or flat finishes, it’s important to consider durability, ease of cleaning, and the area you’re painting. Testing out different samples and taking into account the room’s lighting can help you visualize the final result and come to a satisfying decision.

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