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Understanding Paint Finishes – Matte Gloss And More

Once you’ve landed on your perfect paint color, you’ll also need to consider the finish. The sheen—or level of shine—can influence how the color looks and its durability.

Higher sheen levels are typically more resistant to stains and easier to clean, making them better for high-traffic areas. But what sheen is right for your space? House Painters Wilmington DE know the answer.



Typically, a matte finish is recommended for high-traffic areas like mudrooms because it doesn’t show scuff marks as easily. It also hides surface imperfections better than satin or gloss paint and is cheaper per gallon. Additionally, matte paint requires less prep work and touch-ups as it doesn’t need a primer and can be applied straight to the wall without a base coat.

A matte finish looks modern, sophisticated, and elegant. It’s an excellent choice for a contemporary home or commercial space with a minimalist design and neutral color palette. When used on walls, matte finishes can add a bold statement that contrasts against a rich wood trim or other glossy accents.

When it comes to printing, matte surfaces are perfect for portraits and fine art prints that are meant to be viewed up close. Their non-reflective surface reduces glare and allows for a sharp contrast, which helps to showcase the colors and details in the image. Additionally, matte paper is more durable than glossy, so it stands up well to smudges and fingerprints.

The matte finish also works exceptionally well for brochures, catalogs, and other printed materials that rely heavily on full-color images. This type of finish helps to protect the paper and makes it appear vibrant and appealing to customers. In fact, some upscale brands intentionally choose to print their catalogs on matte paper to convey their brand’s unique aesthetic and feel.

Satin is a paint finish that sits between the dull, non-shiny matte finish and the reflective surface of a glossy gloss. It has a low to moderate amount of sheen that reflects light, but not as much as a gloss or semi-gloss paint. The difference in sheen also allows satin to clean and resist moisture better than matte.

Unlike matte, satin does require a primer and will look best when used on properly primed walls. It also dries faster and covers better than matte so it’s ideal for novice painters or DIY projects. However, because satin requires more preparation than matte, it’s not as budget-friendly as matte paint.

While satin is more durable than matte, it is more sensitive to scratches and scuffs as opposed to matte which hides surface imperfections better. This can make satin a great choice for high-traffic areas in homes with kids or pets. It’s also a great choice for older exterior siding that has layers of old paint.

In terms of durability, satin is better than matte but not as good as glossy or semi-gloss. It’s easy to clean and has good moisture resistance, making it a great option for high-traffic areas in homes with children or pets. It’s also a good choice for kitchens, bathrooms, and other high-traffic areas that may be exposed to lots of moisture.


With the many different options for paint finishes, it can seem like a Rubik’s cube to choose which sheen is best. Fortunately, with a little research and consideration, you can find a finish that suits both your aesthetic and the intended use of the space.

Satin is a popular paint sheen for interior spaces as it offers a moderate amount of shine but also hides wall imperfections well. It’s ideal for areas that see moderate to high traffic, such as hallways and stairs or kitchens, where marks and scuffs are more likely to occur. While it may be harder to clean than gloss, satin is more stain-resistant than flat and will withstand moisture better than semi-gloss.

Unlike flat and eggshell, satin has the ability to reflect some light so it doesn’t have as much of a muted matte look. This makes it a good choice for surfaces that need to be cleaned frequently or will be exposed to direct sunlight as it won’t fade in the same way as flat paint. It’s also a great choice for furniture or upcycling projects, as it allows the pigment color of the paint to stand out rather than being hidden by a glossy surface.

A satin sheen is more resilient than a flat finish but not as durable as a semi-gloss. It holds up to mild scuffing and marking but won’t be able to resist as much water or moisture as semi-gloss. It can be easily buffed to remove minor marks or scratches with a soft cloth, but you’ll need to be gentle so the sheen isn’t compromised.

Gloss is the shiniest paint sheen, reflecting most of the available light and giving surfaces a bright and shiny appearance. It’s often used for trim pieces, such as window frames and shutters or doors, but it can also be used on walls if you are looking to create a sleek contemporary style. While it’s easier to clean than satin, it is also more susceptible to moisture and stains so you’ll need to be extra careful when cleaning and avoid abrasive cleaners or harsh chemicals.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the number of sheens available in your local DIY store, but knowing the difference between matt, gloss, and satin can help you make a more confident choice. By considering your aesthetic preferences, the maintenance requirements of your space, and your budget, you can choose the perfect sheen for your next painting project.


For high-traffic areas where scuff marks and moisture are commonplace, semi-gloss is your best bet. This type of paint has a slight sheen and is more durable than satin, but not quite as shiny as gloss. It’s a good option for kitchens, bathrooms, children’s rooms, and other high-moisture areas. While it’s not as stain-resistant as matte or eggshell, a good quality semi-gloss should be able to hold up against most drips and stains and can be easily cleaned.

As with satin, it’s important to remember that the amount of sheen a paint has can have an impact on its color saturation. This means that, depending on the sheen level, a particular paint color may appear slightly darker in satin than it does in semi-gloss. Satin also tends to hide imperfections more readily than matte or flat finishes, while semi-gloss reveals a bit more in the way of flaws, particularly if it’s applied to a rough or uneven surface.

Like gloss, semi-gloss is manufactured with more binders than satin in order to offer its sheen and durability. As a result, it can cost more than other paint finishes. Luckily, its durability and ease of cleaning make it worth the added expense for some projects.

Another benefit of semi-gloss is that it’s a great choice for doors, trim, and cabinets, as well as other furniture pieces. The added sheen makes this type of paint a good fit for areas that see a lot of activity, such as family rooms or dining spaces. It’s also a good choice for high-traffic areas such as hallways and staircases.

The sheen of a semi-gloss paint also makes it easy to highlight imperfections in the wall or woodwork, so it’s important to prepare the surface carefully before you begin painting. It’s a good idea to use a sort-pile roller for rough or imperfect surfaces and a foam roller for smooth surfaces in order to achieve an even, consistent coat.

Ultimately, choosing the right type of paint comes down to personal preference and how the space will be used. Those looking for a timeless, sophisticated look will prefer satin or eggshell. Those with more active households will be happier with the durability and moisture-combating qualities of semi-gloss.

It’s also important to note that the finish you choose will have a big impact on how long your paint lasts. Generally speaking, higher sheen levels will wear down more quickly than flatter paints, so keep this in mind if you plan on repainting or redecorating your home frequently. If you are unsure which finish is best for your project, talk to a professional handyman. They can help you weigh the pros and cons of each type of paint and choose the right one for your unique needs.