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Best Paint Sheen Chart: Everything You Need to Know About Paint Sheens (in a Chart!)

When you’ve settled on a paint color for your project, there’s another decision to make: paint sheen type.

Do you want your living room trim to have a soft, satiny glow or a high-gloss finish?

What’s the best sheen for your bedroom walls: flat or eggshell?

And how do you even begin making decisions for a whole-house remodel?

With so many possibilities, choosing the right paint sheen type can be difficult. Below we’ve compiled a list of everything you need to know in one handy paint sheen chart.

paint sheen chart

How to Use The Ultimate Paint Sheen Chart

Knowing your paint sheen types is important when planning a one-room project or a full-house renovation. Depending on the context, matte paint can look velvety or dusty, while high-gloss paints can look polished or plastic. We’ve created this paint sheen chart as a helpful guide.

If you have a specific style in mind–a high gloss accent wall–go for it! This paint sheen chart is a reference tool to make your life easier, not cramp your style. Just know the potential risks and benefits before investing in your project.

Read on for more on using this reference guide to help you choose between paint sheen types.

Paint Sheen Chart - DiYPT

Choosing Paint Sheen for a New Build

If you choose paint sheen types for every surface in the home–for example, designing a new build–you can simplify the process of choosing a consistent color and sheen. For example, you might decide on satin-sheen walls in the kitchen and bathrooms and eggshell everywhere else.

You can use the paint sheen chart to easily narrow down these decisions. As you can see, several paint sheens will work for cabinetry, trim, and interior doors. What factor is most important to you? Cleanability will be essential if you love the look of white and light-colored paints.

Do you have a large family? Durability may be a key factor in preserving your new paint. If you’re working within a strict budget, the cost per gallon may be the deciding factor.

Our paint sheen chart can also help you create a feeling of cohesion throughout your home. Consider using the same paint for all of your interior doors or all of your ceilings. Again, think about the factors that are most important for your project.

What spaces will be frequently used throughout your home? What surfaces are rarely touched? Choose a consistent sheen for these areas to simplify your decision-making and create a cohesive look for your home.

Similarly, choosing a consistent trim color and sheen will unify the rooms. If you plan to paint the walls of every room a different color, consider keeping all the trim the same. A semi-gloss sheen is easy to care for, and most wall colors look great against crisp white trim.

paint sheen chart

Choosing Paint Sheen for a Single Room

When you’re painting a single interior room, take a step back before deciding on your sheen. If you have an open-concept home, your room might be visible from several other rooms and hallways. If you choose a drastically different sheen for one room, it could look dusty or shiny by comparison.

Pull out the paint sheen chart to see how your paint finishes compare to nearby surfaces. Generally, finishes next to each other on the chart will flow nicely. You can walk from an eggshell-finish hallway into a satin-finish bathroom or matte-finish bedroom without noticing a change.

However, if paint sheen types are two or more steps away on a chart, you will see a noticeable contrast. That’s not necessarily a bad thing.

You can draw attention to your semi-gloss trim work by making the surrounding area eggshell or matte. The farther apart two finishes are on the paint sheen chart, the more the contrast will stand out.

Now, take a look at your lighting. Does the room you’re painting have lots of windows? You may choose a more matte finish to avoid glare on the walls. A glossier paint can help brighten things up if the room is fairly dim.

Pro tip: if you order new lighting fixtures for your room, install them before choosing your paint sheen.

Yes, it’s a pain to paint around lighting fixtures. However, paint sheen types are heavily impacted by lighting. Are you planning on using light fixtures with a linen shade or a clear glass bulb? These subtle differences determine whether your paint sheen will have a soft glow or distracting glare.

paint sheen chart

Choosing Exterior Paint Sheen Types

Choosing the right paint sheen type is also a big part of exterior painting projects. Since your siding, shutters, and porches have to withstand the elements, durability is a key factor. Remember, the glossier the paint finish, the easier it will be to clean!

The best finishes for exterior surfaces are noted on the paint sheen chart. You’ll notice, however, that there are several good options for exterior railings and outside doors. Remember, if paint sheens are next to each other on the chart, the shift won’t attract much attention.

Choose a paint sheen type two or more steps away from the surrounding trim to highlight an ornate front door. To create a cottage-style look, choose low-luster paint finishes next to each other on the paint sheen chart.

For more details on choosing paint sheen for outdoor surfaces, read What Is the Best Type of Exterior Paint Finish?

Understanding the Difference Between Paint Sheen Types

For painting projects big and small, it’s essential to choose the right paint sheen types. Do you want a high shine, a gentle glow, or a completely matte look? Whatever your preference, your paint finish can make all the difference.

Keep this paint sheen chart handy even after you finish your current painting project. Print out a copy and leave it with your other painting supplies. With this guide, you’ll readily have the complete breakdown of every paint sheen type.

Ready to get started on your painting project? Check out How to Paint a Room for Beginners: A Complete Guide.