What Is Sheen?

Sheen describes the degree of light reflection off the painted surface. (Basically – how the paint shines)

Sheen affects the finish's appearance and durability for certain uses. As the amount of sheen increases, so does hardness or protective value of the coating.

It’s important to note that sheens are not standardized, one manufacturer's satin or Semi-Gloss Paint can have more shine than that of another. One manufacturer may call their sheen an eggshell, while another may refer to it as a satin.

Here are the most common finishes:

  • Flat Paint has the least amount of shine because it has a non-reflective matte finish. The matte finish hides surface imperfections but tends to absorb moisture and allow dirt to stick to it, flat paints can get dirty quickly and be more difficult to clean than glossier finishes.
  • Satin Paint has a soft luster. It still has some texture, but it's more impervious to moisture than flat paint, so it's more resistant to dirt and staining and is easier to clean.
  • Semi-Gloss Paint has a higher sheen than satin paint.
    • The light-reflective quality of a Semi-Gloss can highlight imperfections and cause distracting reflections, it is generally not a good choice for imperfect surfaces. Because it tends to stay cleaner, It is an excellent choice for woodwork, doors, and windows.
  • Gloss Paint is the most durable, stain-resistant, and easiest to clean. It has a hard, shiny surface. The surface is rougher and hides brush strokes. Glossy colors are intense, a characteristic that can highlight surface imperfections and overpower a room if used for walls. It is a great choice for woodwork, especially in areas exposed to heavy traffic.