SHEEN-Not like Charlie or Martin Sheen! Sheen is the amount of shine or glossiness of a paint finish. Let me get the technical stuff out of the way with an apology that you may not need to know this.
There is a difference between gloss and sheen but often they are used
interchangeably. Gloss is the reflective value at 60 degrees and sheen is 85%… stay with me (if you want!) so “shine” is determined by the angle you are looking at the wall. Do you feel better knowing that little tidbit!!
The other fun fact, which I just found out, was that Canada (where I live and the opinionsI have area based on that) families tend to like less “shine” on our walls compared to our lovely southern neighbours. I find this fascinating!!!
The general rule of thumb is the shinier something is the more noticeable it is and the trickier it can be to get a nice even looking finish -lower sheens in general are just more forgiving.
There are 4 basic categories with flat at one end of the spectrum and gloss on the other with everything else in between.
Some people say if you don’t like a sheen mix two gallons of paint with two different sheens together to get an “in between” sheen… Don’t do it… that is a recipe for disaster if you ever need to buy some touch up paint.
FLAT–Not washable and if you touch them you will probably see the residue left from your hand. On the end of the flat category is matte which for many brands has a little bit of a sheen (almost none) but they are washable and even scrubbable. Keep in mind that tint has a sheen to it so Matte paints with a lot of tint in will look shinier than one with less tint.
• FLAT is great for ceilings
• MATTE is great for people who don’t like any shine on their walls, want to be able to wipe them when needed and great for textured walls or damaged walls because the light doesn’t “bounce” on the imperfections and draw attention to them. I really like matte paint for walls that have a lot of light on them… but that is just me.. I really dislike shine!
EGGSHELL-Please note this is not the color of eggshell it’s the shine that you would see on an egg’s shell. (I am talking about all those sheens listed in that category -Satin, Pearl, Low Sheen, Eggshell, Low Luster I am sure there are more depending on the brand of paint and how “fancy” brands want to sound!) Truth is I have seen lower sheen satins and higher sheen satins, so I don’t place a lot of value in the way some of these sheens are labelled. For example, Sherwin Williams has a low luster that is a higher sheen than an eggshell, so the name is a little misleading. Always ask to see a sample of the sheen and make sure you hold it in a way that catches the light. Most paint stores will have a strip in their fan deck of paint colors that it typically grey that will show the variation of sheen.
These paints are the most popular for walls. Typically the higher the sheen the easier to clean but that is becoming less true as paints become better and better.
SEMI-GLOSS–as with the eggshell category the amount of shine in a semi-gloss will vary depending on store but essentially semi-gloss is semi-gloss and is typical for trim and doors. One exception for doors is exterior doors. I like to use eggshell on them if they are in direct sun because the sheen of the semi-gloss will dull everywhere except where the weather stripping sits and that will stay nice and shiny so every time you open the door you will see a shiny frame and it will remind you that you need to paint your door! Keep in mind that semi-gloss (and gloss) don’t cover as well as the lower sheens so you may need an extra coat.
GLOSS–gloss is good for a pianos, cars and nails. I have maybe used it 2 times in the
20 years I have owned my business. It hurts my eyes and the surface has tobe perfect
for it to look good.