The Paint Finish (or Sheen) Is an Important Decision

Posted Originally by Rebecca Dumas, follow her blog here:


Not alIMG_1283 (003)l Designers or Color Consultants are created equal.  When I do a Color Consultation for a client, I also specify the paint sheen and the particular product that will provide the client with the best possible outcome.
I email the entire plan specifying each color per room (walls, ceilings, trim) including the product level and paint sheen.  Since I have been physically inside of the home, I have noted the issues.  For this reason, I can confidently specify what sheen is best based on the following criteria:

  • Condition of the Drywall (ie texture, imperfections due to wallpaper, or previously fauxed)
  • Lighting in the Space (Natural Light vs. Artificial)
  • Type of Color Specified (Degree of Saturation or Depth)
  • Style of the Home (Traditional, Transitional, Contemporary)

I often hear from homeowners that their painter recommends “Eggshell” for walls, and we did once use that finish almost exclusively 15-20 years ago. However as you have been in the home awhile, many things have evolved and an eggshell finish may start to accentuate the flaws. These flaws can be due to settling over time, nail pops that emerge, and drywall imperfections that could result from wallpaper removal or an area that had been previously faux finished which may have created a raised texture.  In this case, I would specify a “Matte” finish, this is NOT FLAT, it has a bit of sheen and provides wash ability.  In the Benjamin Moore paint line  the Matte finish paint sheen is in between Flat and Eggshell.

Another area that you may need to “conceal” flaws is in a 2-story foyer with a lot of natural light streaming through.  Sometimes the imperfections become more visible with the increased natural light highlighting them, using a Flat or Matte is a better way to minimize the unevenness of a “not so perfect” drywall job.  The same goes for trim or doors that have imperfections, minimizing the sheen to a Satin, where traditionally we did Semi-Gloss can conceal flaws.

fine paints blue door

The depth or richness of the color can also be a determining factor of the type of sheen needed.  Darker colors can add a slight bit more sheen based on the amount of tint used to create the color.  This is a situation where it may be optimal to get the paint finish in a product with a slight sheen.  This is an instance where a Matte or Eggshell finish would be a good choice. Using a paint finish with a slight sheen will minimize the burnishing effect (or marring of the paint when brushed up against) you can get from a darker color on drywall.

I have given reasons why certain paint finishes are better in certain situations, but it is still a matter of personal preference.  The type of look you are going for will also help guide you toward the selection process.  A finish that has become increasingly popular to add a Contemporary feel is the High Gloss paint finish


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