a off white kitchen with high gloss paint sheen

Paint Sheen

Originally contributed by Jeff Butler • last updated 3/16/2021

If you’ve decided to do some remodeling around the house, you may be thinking about changing up the colors and giving everything a fresh coat of paint. However, selecting the right paint can be one of the most difficult and rewarding decisions to make during just about any home renovation. With a wide variety of colors, styles, and formulations, it can be tricky to pick out the best option for your project. But, getting it just right is an amazing feeling. Understanding the basics beyond just the colors, such as the levels of sheen that a paint can have, can go a long way towards achieving the best look possible.

Definition

Commonly, the term sheen refers to the level of gloss or shine that a painted surface reflects after it has dried. Paints with more of it reflect light better and appear shinier than paints with lower levels. However, some paint manufacturers use the terms sheen and gloss separately to refer to the different ways that light reflects off of a flat matte paint compared to a shiny paint. In this case, the levels of each in a selected paint are measured in units of 1-100 by reflecting light at different angles (60 degrees and 85 degrees, respectively).

What’s The Best Sheen Level For My Project?

If you’re stuck on picking the right paint for your project, you should know you’re not alone. With numerous options available, it’s difficult to decide on things like sheen and gloss levels. Sometimes, selecting a paint sheen level just comes down to personal preference. But, there are times when a paint with more or less gloss may be better suited for the project.

  • Flat paints with a lower level of sheen tend to hide imperfections. If you’re painting an imperfect surface or you’re worried about brush strokes and blemishes, paints that reflect less light may be a better option.
  • Paints with higher levels of sheen tend to be easier to clean. They also tend to reflect light better and can make smaller rooms look bigger. If you’re painting a kids bedroom or a highly trafficked family room, this might be your best option.
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