How to Pick a Paint Sheen

You’re at The Home Depot, you’ve picked your paint color, and you’re ready to finally bite the bullet and get this project going! Then the kind employee asks…

What sheen would you like?

*blank stares*

*quickly googles how to pick paint sheen*

You can consider this your how-to guide on picking a paint sheen for any room in your home!

How to Pick a Paint Sheen

First, let’s go over the 5 different types of paint sheen.

Flat / Matte

Flat paint has no sheen to it. It provides an ultra matte, velvet finish that is absolutely stunning in the right places! Flat paint is very pigmented which can mean less paint if you are covering another color! The downside of flat paint? It’s not easy to clean and can scuff easily! It’s great for low traffic areas of your home.

If you love the look of matte paint, there are a few different formulas available now that are both matte AND scuff resistant!

Where to put flat paint:

  • Ceilings
  • Very low traffic areas


Eggshell is great just about everywhere! It is has just a tad bit more sheen than matte, but is definitely not shiny or bright. Eggshell is what you will have on 90% of the walls in your home! It reflects the perfect amount of light and is a breeze to wipe down! With large families, this is a big priority for us!

We use eggshell (or Satin) everywhere in our homes other than trim and the ceilings. You really can’t go wrong with eggshell!

Where to use flat paint:

  • All walls other than the ceiling


Satin has more sheen than eggshell. In our opinion, satin is officially “shiny”, which is not a bad thing! Satin is very popular in kitchens and bathrooms because it is very durable and easy to wipe down. With the advances in matte and eggshell paint, I wouldn’t use satin only for durability reasons. If you love a little shine/sheen, this is a great pick! We both use Satin in most areas of our homes since we have very young children.

Where to use satin paint:

  • High traffic rooms that require scrubbing
  • Kitchen
  • Bathrooms
  • Kids’ Rooms
  • Furniture Projects

Semi Gloss

Semi gloss, in our opinion, is VERY glossy. We use semi gloss on all of the trim in our homes. That is really the only place we like a high shine paint. We love to use semi gloss on trim because it wipes down like a dream! We all know how dirty baseboards can get!

Where to use semi gloss paint:

  • Trim
  • Baseboards
  • Furniture Projects

High Gloss

High gloss is the glossiest, shiniest paint you can find. It is really only used to special projects and even that is very rare. You don’t find high gloss paint in a lot of homes these days, but that doesn’t mean you can’t if you’re going for a dramatic look!

Where to use high gloss paint:

  • Special projects

Now, how to choose?

When in doubt, go with eggshell or satin for walls and semi gloss for trim and doors!

Remember – it’s just paint! Don’t be afraid to experiment!


  • Reply
    March 12, 2020 at 7:41 pm

    Thank you for the helpful tips!! I believe under eggshell category it should say where to use eggshell: everywhere but the ceilings… it says where to use flat paint: everywhere but the ceilings. Only noticed bc right above eggshell category it says to use flat paint on ceilings and low traffic areas.

    • Reply
      March 13, 2020 at 6:26 am

      I saw that too and just figured it was a mistake. But this is truly helpful information

  • Reply
    Jason Myopic
    March 13, 2020 at 7:50 am

    Great tips- most people have no clue. Satin or glossy are best where you want to be able to wipe the surface down. Doors and trim I think are best for glossy paint. Never flat!

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