Different Paint Finishes & Paint Sheens

Before you begin to do some interior painting by yourself or with the help of professional painters, you should know what are the best paints for walls. They are many different paint finishes to choose from, so preparation is key. If you decide on getting help from an interior painting company, they will know exactly what types of painting finishes to choose for you. They will complete the job quickly and efficiently. With that being said, what are the different paint finishes and paint sheens?

And furthermore, if we want to get super technical, what exactly is a paint sheen and paint finish? We’re going to get into all that! As well as where these types of paint sheens and paint finishes are best to go in terms of interior painting. So, let’s dig into different paint finishes and paint sheens! 

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What exactly is a paint sheen?

There is so much to consider prior to beginning your interior painting (as well as exterior painting) than just paint colour. Have you ever walked into a friend’s home and noticed how smooth their interior paint worked looked? Or perhaps it was the woodwork and trim that really stood out with its shine and glossy look. All of that right there comes down to paint sheen and types of paint finishes.

Sheen refers to the gloss level of a paint. So, the higher the gloss level, the shinier the appearance of that particular paint will be. Practically speaking, high gloss or shinier paint finishes are typically easier to clean and scrub. So, that’s always something to take into consideration when picking out your paint sheen for the room you’re painting. Also, thinking about aesthetics, paint sheens or glosses can draw attention to surfaces as well. Meaning, if you use a high gloss or super shiny interior paint on a surface with a lot of flaws, they will show up in abundance. So, all of this criteria is important when you’re thinking about paint sheens and types of paint finishes.

Latex vs oil-based paint finishes

Before painting, you should ask yourself: what are the best paints for walls? Oil-based paint is more durable, while latex paint can be long-lasting as well. While it’s not quite as durable as oil-based paint, latex paint is a lot easier to work with because it dries more quickly than oil-based paint. When you use oil-based paint vs latex, you have to wait an entire day (sometimes more) for your first coat of paint to dry. So, oftentimes, oil-based paints simply aren’t as practical anymore. Oil-based paints are actually banned in some areas as well due to not being environmentally sound. 

Latex paint is good for painting projects like walls and ceilings, while oil is better for wood-based projects. When working on unfinished walls, applying a coat of primer before painting will help you significantly. If you plan to use latex paint, use a latex-based primer. Oppositely, if you use oil, use an oil-based primer. For painting walls, it is best to go with latex paint because they don’t yellow over time, dry quicker, and have lower VOCs. VOC stands for “Volatile Organic Compound” and interior and exterior paints with low VOCs or even zero VOCs are better for the environment. To learn all about low VOC paint, visit this blog here

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Thinking about rooms in your home & paint sheen

When you’re thinking about different paint sheens and what rooms or spaces to put them in, there’s a basic rule of thumb to remember. This can depend on the materials in which you’re painting, but basically, the higher the sheen means more shine which often means it will be more a more durable finish. Remember though, it’s not always that simple. So, let’s break things down further for different parts of your home.

Kitchen & Bathroom: High gloss paint is suggested for kitchen cabinet painting as well as door painting and trim work. Benjamin Moore’s Ultra Spec SCUFF-X Pearl is our recommendation for kitchen cabinet painting and trim work. For the actual interior wall painting in your kitchen, semi-gloss paint will do the job fine. It’s easy to clean, stain-resistant and you can find specialty paints, like Benjamin Moore’s Kitchen & Bath Paint which’s also mildew resistant.

• Family Room: For a lot of families, the family room is where a lot of daily living takes place. For that reason, you want to be sure that your interior painting on the walls is durable and can be easily scrubbed. If you want something super rich and velvety looking, you can go for a satin finish. The Ultra Spec SCUFF-X Pearl Satin will be a nice paint sheen for this room. Also, an eggshell or flat paint works well in this area as well because of their ability to hide imperfections.

• Bedrooms: Bedrooms are typically a low-traffic area. It’s usually recommended that you go with a flat or matte finish. You can get the Regal Select line in both flat and matte paint sheens.

• Ceilings: An eggshell or flat paint is most often recommended for ceilings. Sherwin Williams Eminence High-Performance Ceiling Paint in a flat sheen will do the job well.

How to pick the right paint sheen?

Now that we know what is best between latex and oil-based paints for walls, you should now start to think about sheens. Sheen refers to the glossiness of a paint finish.

1. High Gloss Paint: In terms of shininess, high gloss paint offers the highest level of reflection. If you’re looking for something that will give a high-shine almost glass-like finish, high gloss paint can be a good choice for cabinets, doors, molding, and trim.


2. Semi-Gloss Paint: For paint sheen, semi-gloss paint offers up a sleek and radiant finish. This type of sheen is highly suggested for interior painting. This is because it is slicker, durable, and stain-resistant. It is great to use for children’s play areas and kitchen and bathroom walls.


3. Satin Finish Paint: This paint finish is one with the most velvety of textures. Satin finish paint possesses an almost soft pearl-like appearance. It is less lustrous than semi-gloss paint, so it will appear to be flat and glossy. In reality, though, it does depend on the lighting in the room.


4. Eggshell or Flat Paint: Eggshell or flat paint also possesses a soft appearance similar to the satin finish paint. Only, both these types of paints have the least amount of sheen and glossiness. They are a good choice if you are hiding any wall imperfections. Eggshell or Flat paint is best for walls or ceilings. Ideally, you should not use them for kitchens or bathrooms, like the other types of paint finishes.


5. Matte Paint: In terms of matte paint finish, this sheen possesses a very low luster reflective sheen. Matte paint is very durable, easy to clean and you can also touch it up nicely. It can also hide imperfections on walls as well. You might choose matte paint for moderate traffic areas in your home, such as your bedroom or dining room.

Different Paint Finishes & Paint Sheens Paint Sheen Guide and How to choose a best paint finish?

Paint sheen Guide

Satin vs Flat paint: Satin paint has a slightly higher sheen than eggshell paint finishes. They are warmer and provide more depth in their appearance, unlike flat paints. Satin paint is also more stain-resistant than flat paint. While flat paints are used on walls or ceilings, satin paint is better off in family rooms.


Satin vs Semi-Gloss paint: Satin and semi-gloss paint are the most compared paint finishes, but semi-gloss has much more sheen than satin. This basically means that light from windows will bounce off semi-gloss paint more easily than satin and eggshell paint.


Semi-Gloss vs High Gloss paint: Semi-gloss paints are a little more glossy in appearance, compared to gloss paint. Also, semi-gloss is less reflective than gloss paints. Semi-gloss and high gloss paints are easier to clean and are used on cabinets and doors. So, they are exposed to dirt and oil. High gloss paint emphasizes surface imperfections and semi-gloss paint is easy to clean.


Flat vs Matte: Flat paint consists of more pigment than any other paint finish. It is known as concealer paint or matte paint. It is non-reflective, meaning the paint will soak up any light directed at it. Flat paint is easier to apply than other finishes and based on budget, it is a less expensive option than the rest.

Some last few suggestions on paint finishes and paint sheens

You should have an idea as to what are the best paint finishes for walls before beginning to interior paint, First, start off by using a great primer, like Benjamin Moore’s Fresh Start Primer. It is low on VOCs, it dries fast and it easy to apply. If you want interior latex paint, look no further than Ultra Spec Scruff-X. It is great for painting walls and any woodwork. Lastly, you can never go wrong with Regal Select Interior Paint. It’s one of the most top quality interior paints you can find. It’s also a 2-in-1 paint and primer. Plus, it is splatter-resistant and very smooth to apply. Not to mention that it dries fast and leaves no brush strokes. For kitchen and bathroom projects, you should consider Benjamin Moore Kitchen & Bath Paint. It is perfect for high humidity and moisture areas.

Preparation is vital! 

Before you start any painting project, you should always prep your walls. This means cleaning your walls with soap and water. A clean surface will always be easier to paint on than a dirty one. Also, fill any holes you notice with the right filler.

To ensure a smooth surface, you should possibly sand your walls too! None of this would be possible without the right painting materials and tools. This includes paintbrushes, paint rollers, trays, and many more. Your room needs to have proper ventilation.

Even if you are painting during the colder seasons, you can simply open your windows, to allow proper airways for drying. If you by chance forget any of these tips, don’t forget that an interior painting service is here for you. They can complete the job for you in a quick and efficient manner.

If you reside in Toronto and the GTA and need some help figuring out the interior painting costs per square foot, don’t hesitate to call us! We will help you pick the colours you want and show you the latest painting and home renovation trends. Our home painting services with the best pro painters have been around now for over 30 years. Call 416.494.9095 or email brian@HomePaintersToronto.com for a FREE quote for your home painting needs. And don’t forget to check us out on our social media channels below! 


From The Owner & Founder


Hello and welcome!

I’m both deeply honoured and flattered you are considering using our services.

Since 1987 when I was at York University simply earning my way through school, I’ve had the privilege to meet and work with thousands of amazing homeowners like yourself.

Besides the birth of my daughter, there is nothing more satisfying than seeing a homeowner’s life change when we have transformed their dream home into a masterpiece. For that reason, we take our jobs very seriously and are committed to our cause.

At Home Painters our mission is to paint homeowners’ dreams, and make your painting experience last a lifetime!
I look forward to hopefully meeting you one day, as it brings me tremendous joy to make homeowner’s dreams come true.



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