Once you’ve decided on what color to go with and select which rooms or walls you’re going to paint, you have to make one last decision: The Finish. You may not think paint finishes make that big of a difference, but it does contribute to the finished product. When all is said and done, you want your paint project to meet all your expectations since you and your family will see the fruits of your labor each and every day.

Choosing the right finish for your paint project can be trickier than picking the color since many are unsure which finishes are best for particular walls and rooms. Our guides will help you complete your paint project in no time!

What is paint sheen?

Paint sheen is a fancy way of referencing how much shine is in the paint. Once dried, some paints are shinier than others and this all comes down to the percentage of sheen. The more sheen a paint has, the shinier it will be. Paint sheen affects more than just the shininess once the paint dries. It also impacts how durable or easy to clean a wall is. There are a few different options when it comes to finishes so knowing the pros and cons of each will help you make the best decision for your home.

High Gloss Paint Finish

The shiniest paint finish with the highest percentage of sheen is called high gloss. This finish option contains 70-89% sheen making it extremely shiny. The perks of this shiny option are that it makes the walls or paint surface easy to clean. Because it is so durable and easy to wipe down, it is perfect for a busy area of the house where there is a higher likelihood of the surfaces getting dirty. Many use this finish in their kitchen. The kitchen is a central communal area of the home where things are bound to get messy. The downside of this sheen is that it doesn’t hide dirt and imperfections well. Another con is that when a touch up is done, it will be noticeable since the sheen from the touch up won’t blend with the original coat. Because of this and its shiny appearance, it is typically not used for an entire wall or big surface. A high gloss finish is best used on doors, baseboards, or trim.

Semi-Gloss Paint Finish

The second shiniest paint finish is semi-gloss. This option’s sheen percentage ranges from 41-69%. Like high gloss, it is on the shinier side which makes it easy to wipe down and clean when dirty. It is also a great option for heavily populated areas of the home like the kitchen. If you want something easy to clean and durable but not as shiny as the high gloss finish, this is the perfect pick for your paint project. It looks great on cabinets, trim, baseboards, and doors. The kitchen isn’t the only great place for this finish. Semi-gloss works well in the bathroom, kid’s rooms, hallways, or entryways. When using semi-gloss, make sure to smooth down the surface as much as possible before painting because this gloss will show any surface imperfections.

Satin Paint Finish

If less glossy but still easy to clean is what you are wanting, look no further. Satin finishes are comprised of 26-40% sheen which makes it the third shiniest on the list. While it is still visibly glossy, it is less dramatic than the first two choices when it comes to shine. The silky, smooth appearance makes it a popular choice. It is still easy to clean and won’t show as many imperfections as the high gloss and semi-gloss finishes. This finish works in high traffic areas of the home too. It is perfect for the living room, laundry room, bathroom, kitchen, dining room, furniture, and doors.

Flat and Matte Paint Finish

The last two paint finishes are often put in the same category and used interchangeably but there are slight differences between the two. A matte paint finish consists of 5-9% gloss and while it is not the easiest to clean, it hides imperfections well and is easy to touch up. A surface painted with a matte finish doesn’t have a lot of shine due to the low percentage of sheen. A matte finish looks great in a room with lower traffic such as a guest room, dining room, ceiling, or formal space. A flat paint finish has even less sheen than a matte paint finish. This paint finish is harder to clean and has nearly no shine. This finish choice is perfect for ceilings or select walls in areas of the home with little to no traffic.

If you need some help choosing which paint finish or what color to go with, our expert color consultants at Arizona Painting Company can help! Our extensive experience qualifies us to pick the perfect color and paint finish for any project. Contact us today.