Reflecting on Sheens
With all of the different paint manufactures calling their sheens, how shiny the paint is, various and often confusing names, there needs to be some clarity in the world of sheen. Let's explore the most common sheens available and some misconceptions about them.
We must keep in mind that sheens will change depending on the quality of the product. For example, a lower end product that is labeled "Semi-Gloss" may have the same sheen level as a high-end product labeled "Satin." Paint also appears to change color a bit by changing the sheen. Think of it like waxing your car, the color gets deeper with more wax. Now let's look at the main line of sheens, we will go from least shine to most shine:
Flat: Almost no sheen. We use flat mostly on ceilings. With no sheen the product will make the walls look the most smooth but offers almost no protection. One benefit to flat is it does touch up more easily than the other paints. Perfect for ceilings and formal rooms. For exterior applications, flat is perfect for rough surfaces such as brick and siding. The exterior flats are very durable and look great on big surface areas.
Note: A lot of the higher end flats have a little sheen to help with cleaning. The problem is this will make ceilings look awful and it can't be touched up. We suggest using a more inexpensive paint for ceilings and apartment applications as it will touch up better and look better.
Matte: This product has a little bit of sheen. It looks gorgeous and has great durability. Designers spec this product for most of your walls. The higher end paint lines really make very durable mattes and they come in ultra-deep bases so you can achieve any color.
Satin/Eggshell: Some companies will tell you these are different but they are pretty much the same. It is the middle sheen for most products. It has some shine and is plenty durable for bathroom applications. We do not need semi-gloss in the bathroom anymore. Most quality paints have achieved plenty of sheen in this Satin/Eggshell category. All of the higher quality products also contain anti-mildew/mold agents to help protect against any moisture concerns.
Semi-gloss/Gloss: We use this for trim inside and outside of homes. It has good amount of sheen and flashes nicely on woodwork. It is going to give you the durability you need for shelving, woodwork, and doors.
High-Gloss: Very high level of sheen. It keeps almost a wet look. This is used in place of semi-gloss on interior surfaces when clients are looking for that "oil look" of old.
There are a few sheens you may run in to outside of this. Ben Moore has a Pearl finish which is between a satin and semi-gloss. Designers spec this for a base layer for faux finishes. Sherwin Williams also has a Low-Lustre and High-Lustre paint for one of their lines. This is the equivalent of matte and semi-gloss respectively.
Sheens are a confusing and over-complicated system but to get the desired effect we must choose sheen carefully. And as always, if you need any assistance, don't hesitate to call!