Choosing the Right Sheen

Congratulations! You’ve finally made the perfect colour choice. You come to the paint counter, proud that you know exactly what you want and then we ask…”What sheen would you like?”

Sheen? Another decision to make? It can all be a little overwhelming, right? Let’s try to make it a little easier by discussing the pros and cons or the features and benefits of each one.

First of all, what IS sheen? Sheen refers to the reflectiveness of a dried paint film; in other words, how shiny it is. This is measured by the percentage of light reflected off of the painted surface at an angle of 85 degrees. That is the technical description, but what does that mean for you? For the most part, the shinier the paint is, the more durable it will be. You need to choose a sheen that is both aesthetically pleasing to you and that will perform best in your environment. Let’s discuss.

Flat Finish
Flat paints have very little sheen (3-5% reflective) and are mainly used for ceilings because they hide imperfections well. Due to their porous nature, flat paints cannot be washed or scrubbed without causing burnish marks (shiny spots on the painted surface) which is why we don’t suggest them for walls.

Matte Finish
For those wanting that nice flat look for walls, you may want to consider a matte finish which has the same low sheen look at a flat (3-5% reflective) but is formulated to give a bit of durability. It can be wiped, but not scrubbed. It is often used in bedrooms, living rooms and dining rooms. It is perfect for hiding walls that may have imperfections, especially in rooms with a lot of natural light.

Eggshell Finish
By far the most popular, an eggshell finish has a slight angular sheen (10-20%). It can be wiped, but not scrubbed. It is an excellent finish for most areas of the house, bedrooms, living rooms, dining rooms and hallways. For high abuse areas you may want to consider a slightly higher sheen for more durability and washability.

Pearl/ Satin Finish
This is the sheen between eggshell and semi-gloss. It has slightly more angular sheen than eggshell (25-40%) and is much more durable. Pearl is used in areas that take a beating; kitchens, bathrooms, mudrooms, entry ways, hallways, stairwells and kid’s bedrooms. It can also be used on trim and doors.

Semi-gloss Finish
This durable finish is shiny (50-60% reflective). It is rarely used on walls because it emphasizes any imperfections, but it is perfect on trim, doors and crown molding.

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