Understanding Paint Sheens

dining room with hi-gloss purple paint on the walls.

Picking your paint color is not the end of your decision making when it comes to painting the interior of your home. The next question is: What sheen should I use?

image of a dining area, side by side, showing different sheen sin the same purple color on the wall.

Walls: Blackberry Jam S100-6

Understanding the best uses for different paint sheens is helpful. In general, the higher the sheen, the easier it is to clean, making it ideal for areas with high traffic and moisture. That’s why trim, molding, and cabinets are often painted with a higher sheen than walls.

Bathroom with Gray Cabinets in a high gloss sheen.

Wall: Desert Khaki N310-4 in Satin, Cabinetry: Iron Mountain N520-5 in Hi-Gloss

Sheens also play a role in how the finished room looks. Glossy sheens complement modern designs well, while flatter sheens are ideal for creating a cottage or farmhouse style. But you don’t have to stick to the rules. If you’re aiming for a unique look, try painting the same color in two different sheens to create a subtle design on your wall. You will notice that the glossier the finish, the bolder and brighter the color appears. Mixing sheens, for example a higher gloss for ceiling and flatter for your walls, is another unique way to add depth and dimension to the space.

Hallway with the back wall painted in an eggshell sheen and the ceiling in a semi-gloss sheen.

Walls: Cotton Knit PPU7-11 in Eggshell, Back Wall: Balance Green S360-3 in Eggshell, Ceiling: Balance Green S360-3 in Semi-Gloss

Duller sheens such as Flat or Matte create a casual and inviting atmosphere in a room. These finishes have minimal glare, making them easy on the eyes, providing a cozy backdrop that allows the color to stand out rather than the shine. While they offer comfort to your space, these sheens are less durable than glossier options. They can be cleaned and touched up effectively but are best used in low-moisture areas. Additionally, they are the most forgiving when it comes to application, excelling at hiding imperfections.

A living room with walls painted in a flat white sheen.

Wall: Blank Canvas in Flat

Eggshell and Satin sheens gloss level is in the middle, not too dull or too shiny. They absorb just the right amount of light giving them an elegant feel. Eggshell is often used in Living rooms, Dining areas, or Bedrooms when you want just a touch more shine than Flat or Matte.  Satin with its slightly higher sheen, is more versatile than Eggshell and can be used in almost any room in the home. Both are durable and easy to clean, making them the perfect choice for those who want a balance of shine.

A bathroom with blue-gray walls and trim painted in a satin sheen.

Wall: Charcoal Blue N490-5 in Satin, Trim: Magnetic Gray N500-5 in Satin

Glossier paints such as Semi-Gloss and Hi-Gloss are highly reflective and can imitate a glass-like appearance, especially when the room is filled with light. The overall feel is modern and sleek and looks beautiful on walls with no texture. However, unlike flat sheens, these glossier finishes can accentuate brush strokes and roller marks, so it’s best to use a sprayer to achieve a smooth and even finish. The higher reflective finish can also make a small room look brighter or larger making it great for powder rooms or closets. These higher sheens are the easiest to clean, this is why cabinet, doors, trim, and molding are often painted in a Semi or Hi-Gloss sheen.

A kitchen with cabinets painted deep blue in a semi-gloss sheen.

Cabinets: Midnight Blue N480-7 in Semi-Gloss, Walls: White 52 in Eggshell

There are best practices for sheens, and you should take into consideration the function of the room, but don’t forget your personal preference and style is a factor that will make the space all your own.

Click on the link to learn more about the sheens that Behr offers:


Colorfully yours,


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