Choosing the right sheen level for your interior paint Glossy, satin, or matte

Shot of a female sitting crossed legged chosing paint colours.

What is Sheen Level and Why Should You Care?

If you’re considering a new interior paint job, you’ve probably heard the terms “sheen level” and “finish” thrown around. But what do they mean, and why should you care? In short, sheen level (or finish) is a measure of how glossy or matte your paint will look, and it’s an important factor in the look and durability of your paint job.

The most common sheen levels for interior paint are glossy, satin, and matte. In this post, we’ll be exploring these three finishes and helping you decide which one is right for you.

How to Choose the Right Sheen Level

Choosing the right sheen level will depend on what type of room you’re painting, how much traffic the room gets, and your personal preference. Here’s a quick breakdown of each sheen level and when they work best:


Glossy paint has a high sheen and reflects light, making it ideal for high-traffic areas like kitchens and bathrooms. Glossy paint is also easy to clean and can resist staining. However, it can be difficult to apply and is best used on smooth walls with minor imperfections.


Satin paint has a lower sheen than glossy paint, making it ideal for areas that get a lot of wear and tear, like hallways and living rooms. It’s also resistant to staining and easy to clean, making it a great choice for homes with kids or pets.


Matte paint has the lowest sheen level of the three and is often used in bedrooms and other low-traffic areas. It’s easy to apply and hides minor imperfections, but it can be difficult to clean and is prone to staining.

Pros & Cons of Different Sheen Levels

When it comes to choosing the right sheen level for your interior paint, it’s important to consider the pros and cons of each. Here’s a quick overview:

  • Glossy: Pros: Easy to clean, resists staining; Cons: Difficult to apply, highlights imperfections.
  • Satin: Pros: Easy to clean, resists staining; Cons: Lower sheen level.
  • Matte: Pros: Easy to apply, hides imperfections; Cons: Difficult to clean, prone to staining.

What to Consider When Choosing a Sheen Level

When choosing the right sheen level for your interior paint job, there are a few things you should consider. First, think about the traffic in the room and whether you’ll need a paint that can withstand a lot of wear and tear. Second, consider your personal preference and the look you’re going for. Do you want a glossy finish that will reflect light, or a matte finish that will hide imperfections?

Once you’ve considered these factors, you’ll be ready to pick the right sheen level for your interior paint job.

A Word of Caution

When it comes to sheen level, it’s important to remember that more isn’t necessarily better. While glossy finishes are ideal for high-traffic areas, they can be challenging to apply and highlight imperfections. Likewise, matte finishes are great for hiding minor flaws, but they can be difficult to clean and prone to staining.

How to Apply Paint with Different Sheen Levels

Once you’ve chosen the right sheen level for your interior paint job, you’ll need to know how to apply it. Here’s a quick overview of the process:

  • Prep the walls. Before you start painting, you’ll need to prepare the walls by cleaning them and filling in any cracks or holes.
  • Prime the walls. Once the walls are prepped, you’ll need to prime them with a high-quality primer. This will help the paint adhere better and last longer.
  • Choose the right paint. When choosing paint, make sure to select one that’s designed for the specific sheen level you’ve chosen.
  • Paint the walls. Once the paint is ready, you can start painting. Make sure to use even strokes and avoid roller marks.
  • Clean up. Once you’re finished painting, make sure to clean up any excess paint and dispose of the paint cans properly.


Choosing the right sheen level for your interior paint can be a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. By taking the time to consider the traffic in the room, your personal preference, and the pros and cons of each sheen level, you’ll be able to find the perfect paint for your home. Once you’ve chosen the right paint, you’ll be ready to start your painting project.

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