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Eggshell, Satin, Matte, or Flat?

What is a sheen finish?

In paint technology, it describes the level of the glossiness/shininess of a paint product. Paint is chemistry in a can and the quality is reflected in the price. Resin is added to the paint to give it sheen and strength. Keep in mind, you get what you pay for, so don’t settle for cheap.

When doing a paint color consultation, a Professional Color Consultant will know which sheen to specify for a certain area, so it is good to be informed and query something if you notice a discrepancy.

Trends have changed over the years and I found that some of my clients have definite likes or dislikes when it comes to certain sheens

The last few years, whenever I visited a home tour in our local area, I noticed that the walls in many of the modern homes were painted with a flat paint, not even a matte finish. Personally, I am not fan of flat walls, I would much rather specify a Matte or Low Luster sheen if someone dislikes “shiny” walls

Let’s look at the applications, pros and cons of the most popular sheens


· Least reflective finish, not good to use in a dark room

· It has been described as rich and velvety and I totally disagree. There is nothing velvety about the chalky feeling when you rub your hand over a wall with a flat sheen to it.

· Difficult to clean. Not durable.

· Not ideal in high traffic areas with animals and energetic kids

· Flat paint is not resistant to moisture, not ideal for bathrooms or laundry rooms

· Easy to touch up, since there will be no shiny reflection that shows overlapping streaks

· Best to hide minor imperfections on drywall, but I would suggest having your walls or ceiling repaired before you have it painted

Where to use: Ceilings and low traffic areas

Matte/ Low Luster

As mentioned before, these sheens have been gaining popularity over the last few years, especially in super contemporary and modern homes.

· Slightly more reflective than flat

· Has a very smooth and subtle sheen when viewed at an angle

· Has added durability, meaning it would be easier to clean than Flat

· Could have the more velvety look if a good quality paint product is used

Where to use:

Master bedrooms, Media rooms, some accent walls.

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Eggshell/ Satin

· Eggshell paint has a similar in sheen to the shell of an eggs

· Reflects light noticeably.

· It creates a softly polished glow and provides an easy-to-clean surface, which is a perfect choice when there are kids in a house.

· It may show surface imperfections, which is why you might as well have the drywalls fixed instead of trying to cover the damage up with a paint product.

Where to use:

All interior spaces such Kitchens, Dining Rooms, bedrooms, living rooms etc.

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· Satin has a medium sheen, that adds extra shine to a room, without appearing “glossy”.

· It has a smooth elegant feeling to it.

· It is more durable than Eggshell due to a higher percentage of binder in it

· Because of that, moisture will be less likely to penetrate the surface

· Satin could also accentuate wall imperfections.

Use: Trim, cabinets, closet shelves, high traffic areas such as hallways

Note: I used to specify Satin for kitchen and bathrooms cabinets ever since I have been a Color Consultant, but after a recent discussion with a few industry professionals and because of feedback from a few of my clients, I decided to give my clients two options when it comes to the sheen of high traffic areas such as bathrooms and kitchen cabinets. Semi-gloss does not chip as easy, so less touch ups are necessary, but as long as you know that semi-gloss definitely has a higher sheen to it.

Semi- Gloss:

· Very durable and withstands repeated cleaning

· Creates a smooth, highly reflective finish


Interior Trim, doors, window frames, cabinets. Pantries, closet shelving, mudrooms, laundry room cabinets etc.

I personally will never use Semi-gloss on a wall.

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Where to find info on sheens?

· If you have a fan deck from any company, you should be able to find a strip in it with all their sheens

· In store. Many stores have actual painted samples to demonstrate the look and the feel of their sheens

· Online. Is there anything we cannot find online nowadays?!

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