Blue wood trim in five different paint sheens.

It might not seem like an important detail, but sheen is a crucial part of what makes a paint work in a particular project. From flat to high-gloss, there’s a range of options to choose from, and each one is suited for different situations. Here are some of the most common sheens, and the differences between them:


Flat paints have virtually no gloss and are excellent for hiding surface imperfections and underlying colors. They also do a great job toning down bold and bright colors, so they feel more livable – especially in spaces with low lighting. However, they’re not the most desirable for stain resistance, so they should be used in more formal rooms that receive minimal traffic.

Use for: Living Rooms, Dining Rooms, Bedrooms, Ceilings, and Exterior Siding


Eggshell paints offer a soft look, with minimal glossiness. Eggshell is a nice middle ground of durability and low-luster, which means it’s an all-around paint that can be used for most rooms in your home.

Use for: Bedrooms, Kids’ Rooms, Family Rooms, and Hallways


Satin finishes deliver a shinier, more lustrous finish than flat paints. They have good hide (sometimes referred to as coverage), and offer high stain- and scrub-resistance. This makes them ideal for busier spaces in your home.

Use for: Living Rooms, Kitchens, Bathrooms, Laundry Rooms, Hallways, and Exterior Siding.


Semi-gloss finishes enhance a room with their shiny, rich, and lustrous look. Semi-gloss paints offer excellent stain- and scrub-resistance, but the downside is that they tend to reveal more surface imperfections. But when you need a paint that’ll withstand plenty of cleaning, semi-gloss is a great choice.

Use for: Interior/Exterior Doors, Trim, Kitchens, Bathrooms, and Laundry Rooms


As the name suggests, gloss paints have the shiniest finishes. With the shine comes the best performance in terms of stain- and scrub-resistance, which makes it a perfect choice for high-traffic areas or on surfaces you want to last a long time.

Use for: Doors, Cabinets, Trim, Banisters, Shutters, and Window Castings