A Guide to Choosing the Right Paint Sheen

Expert Advice on what Sheen to use in Each Area of your Home

By: MacFarland Painting      June 7th, 2022

There are countless factors that go into choosing the right paint sheen, but at the end of the day, it truly comes down to your personal preference. Start by asking yourself these questions: How much “shine” do you like to see? Do you have imperfections that need to be hidden? Does your space require regular cleaning? The general rule of thumb is – The higher the gloss, the shiner the appearance – so the order of least glossy to most glossy is as follows: Flat, Matte, Eggshell, Satin, Semi-Gloss, High Gloss. When referencing paint sheens, note that they vary for each manufacturer (i.e. Benjamin Moore satin might look different than Sherwin-Williams satin).

You can use the same sheen throughout your home, or you can use a different one on each surface; However, some rooms hold up better when using a specific sheen. If you are wondering what paint sheen you should use, this guide will help you decide. Us professionals at MacFarland Painting are great resources for determining which type is most suitable for your living space. Follow along!



Below we have briefly described the 6 main paint sheens. As you can see, we combined Matte and Eggshell as they are nearly identical. Every type of sheen will work in any room of your house; However, some are more ideal for certain locations than others. Understanding the pros and cons of each is extremely important when choosing one for your surface. Follow our photo guide below to see our short definitions of each!


Standard ceiling paint almost always comes in flat. This is often preferred due to the fact that flat does not reflect light directly, meaning that any flaws or imperfections in the ceiling are not as noticeable (and it also makes your ceiling look taller! 😉) Flat sheen can also be touched up much easier than any other type of sheen.


We have come to learn that the higher gloss level sheens (semi-gloss, high-gloss) hold up best to frequent wipe-downs. Because of this, we recommend using semi-gloss for all trim, or any high-traffic areas that are touched the most often (handrails, window frames, door casings, etc.)


 When choosing a sheen for your walls, in any room of your home, think to yourself how much traffic the space sees, if you are going to need to hide any imperfections, and how much shine you personally desire.

Foyer/Living Room/Dining Room/Bedroom – For general living spaces, we recommend using a matte or eggshell sheen. The moderate shine of this sheen hides imperfections easily and handles occasional wipe-downs nicely. If you prefer little to no shine, we resort to matte, but if you like to see a little bit of a shine, satin/eggshell work just as well.

Kitchen- Kitchens are spaces that are considered “high traffic.” This meaning that the walls need regular cleaning. A go-to sheen for a space like this would be satin. Satin sheen is easy to clean and holds up well to grease/food splatters, mildew, dirt, and stains.

Bathroom – In a high moisture room, like your bathroom, satin will come highly recommended. The more sheen on your surface, the less amount of moisture will absorb into the substrate.

Bedrooms/Kid’s Rooms – Matte is often used in bedrooms as they are “low-traffic” spaces that are less likely to be scuffed and dirtied. On the other hand, you are going to want to use a more durable sheen in a kid’s room, such as satin.

    These are our professional recommendations, but like we mentioned before, it all comes down to personal preference!