Sheen is the level of shine that your paint has, ranging from flat (dull) to high-gloss (an almost mirror-like finish, depending on the product and technique you use).
Is it an aesthetic preference? Absolutely. Some folks want super shiny, glossy walls, while others prefer the warmth and simplicity of lower sheens that don’t demand the same level of attention. But it goes deeper than just that. You need to consider the age and condition of your walls as well, plus the level of activity in the space. Lower-sheen paint is much more forgiving of surface imperfections, and is easier to touch up too. High-gloss paint is more specialized, and while very durable, it’s also harder to work with and care for in the long run.
Keep in mind too that high-gloss paint requires extensive surface preparation. Since it will show every bump, scrape, or unevenness in your wall, it has to be applied after extensive, expert-level prep.
Let’s run through your basic interior painting options here, but keep in mind that there are more on the spectrum than what we’ve listed. This will just provide a rough idea of the progression and hopefully help you decide which might be the best choice for your room.
Matte paint gives the walls a soft, warm look that’s perfect for any living room. Since it has a very low sheen level, it’s not very shiny or reflective. It has a slight texture to it, but it’s far less noticeable than a high-gloss finish.
This paint finish is a bit like the middle ground between matte and glossy. While it’s not super shiny, it has a higher sheen level than matte paint, which means it’s a bit more noticeable. Unlike matte paint, satin paint also has a very slight texture to it, so it’s not as smooth as matte. Why is it a nice pick for living rooms? Well, satin paint is a great compromise if you want a paint finish that has a bit of sheen, but isn’t too shiny. It’s also a versatile finish that can be used in a variety of rooms, from bedrooms to bathrooms.
High-gloss paint has a high sheen level, so it’s very shiny, and a lot of light reflects from the painted surface. Glossy and dramatic, this is a nice choice if you’re looking for a more specialized finish with wow factor.
There are certainly exceptions to the rule, but overall we’re seeing a LOT more low-sheen, and even flat, paint being used. It used to be that flat and matte paint was too weak to be used in high-traffic spaces; a better fit for ceilings than for living room walls. Thanks to product improvements and advancements, however, that’s really not as much of an issue anymore. Yes, higher-gloss paint will always be a bit easier to wipe down and offer an extra measure of durability, but flatter sheens are not far behind. And they’re so forgiving, easy to work with, and easy to touch up (as we mentioned before). That’s a win from every angle.
Give us a call at Chism Brothers Painting! We’d love to help you navigate your options and make just the right choice for your home.
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