AMK Painting

Social Media:

Paint Sheen Chart: Gloss Is A Crucial Aspect

Satin Paint Is the Best Sheen for Exterior Painting

When choosing paint, there are two crucial aspects to consider: the color and sheen.

In broad terms, the color scheme is more about aesthetics and appearance. It is crucial that you learn the art of matching hues since colors have a powerful influence on our behavior.

Paint sheen is more about the brightness and the performance of the paint you use to protect your house from harsh weather.

It is funny to think that most content creators are so interested in topics like “how to pick paint colors for a house,” with about 360,000,000 results.

But regarding the “paint sheen chart,” you’ll only get about 2,840,000 results.

So, for every sheen result, there are about 126 color results. And the paint gloss chart is more important.

Below, we’ll provide you with a paint sheen chart to help you pick the correct gloss level for your painting needs.

What Is Paint Sheen?

White Paint Can with Paint Brush on Top

Merriam-Webster defines sheen as “a bright or shining condition.” 

So, the sheen measures the reflected light from a paint finish. If a painted surface is very smooth and glass-like, the reflection is perceived as “shiny” or “glossy.” 

According to Wikipedia, the different types of paint sheens, from the dullest to the shiniest, are flat, eggshell, satin, semi-gloss, and high-gloss paint.

The Gloss Level Indicates the Durability of the Paint!

Paint sheen is more just than glossiness. In fact, the paint’s performance is related to its sheen.

In general terms, high-gloss paint is more durable, offering scrub, stain, and moisture resistance.

The moisture resistance allows for frequent washing if needed. So, high-gloss paint is easy to clean.

Yet the higher the gloss level, the more it highlights surface flaws and imperfections like bumps, scratches, etc.

High-gloss paint is best for wet and high-traffic surfaces.

On the other hand, the dull, flat paint is less durable and attracts dirt. And sadly, it’s harder to clean.

This low-sheen paint doesn’t protect surfaces from harsh weather, so it’s recommended for painting indoors and low-traffic surfaces.

Since low-sheen paint has no shine or little shine, it hides imperfections better than higher gloss paints.

Here is a little graph that can summarize why choosing the right gloss in paint is essential:

Paint Sheen Chart

Paint Gloss Levels Determine Performance and Uses

  1. Flat Paint: Hides Imperfections
  2. Eggshell Paint: Resists Stains Better than Flat Paint
  3. Satin Paint: Best Sheen for Exterior Painting
  4. Semi-Gloss Paint: Ideal for Exterior Woodwork and Trim
  5. High-Gloss Paint: Best Paint Sheen for Bathrooms

Paint Sheen Chart: Pick the Right Gloss for Every Project

Paint Gloss Levels Chart

What’s the best type of paint finish?

There is no paint sheen better than the other. What you get is different paint sheens for different surfaces in your house.

Recently, we created an article explaining why we shouldn’t use exterior paint inside. Every paint is engineered for a specific purpose. So, we’ll guide you on the different paint glossiness levels and their proper use.

1. Flat Paint: Hides Imperfections

4 Cans of Flat Sheen Paint for Indoor Use

The paint finishes’ gloss range or sheen level is measured from 0 to 100. Thus, 0 is the dullest, and 100 is the brightest type of paint finish.

Now that you know that, let’s talk about flat paint.

Flat paint is the dullest of the paint sheen levels. In fact, the gloss range goes from 0 to 5.

This type of paint is also known as “matte paint,” and it has no shine, so it hides imperfections better than a paint with a higher gloss.

Yet flat paint is porous and susceptible to fading and mildew. Since it doesn’t offer high performance, protection, and durability, a flat paint sheen is used to paint house interiors and low-traffic areas. The reason is simple: indoor areas are not exposed to harsh weather.

Recommended Use of Flat Paint:


Low-traffic areas like:

  • Bedrooms
  • Dining rooms
  • Closets
  • Ceilings

2. Eggshell Paint: Resists Stains Better than Flat Paint

Eggshell Paint: Resists Stains Better than Flat Paint

Eggshell paint has a relatively low sheen level that goes from 10-15. This type of paint finish is named after a chicken’s egg because it has a similar look.

Eggshell paint resists stains better than flat paint, although not as well as semi-gloss and high-gloss paints.

Eggshell is similar to flat paint because it has little sheen, so it works fine, hiding blemishes and flaws on walls and even woodwork.

Recommended Use:

Moderate-traffic areas like:

  • Living rooms
  • Dining rooms
  • Home offices
  • Interior woodwork

3. Satin Paint: Best Sheen for Exterior Painting

Satin Paint: Best Sheen for Exterior Painting

Right in the middle of the paint gloss levels is satin paint with a sheen level of 26 to 40. This is a very versatile type of paint finish because it has the best of both worlds.

What Is the Best Sheen for Exterior Painting?


Since satin paint is one gloss level higher than eggshell paint, it is ideal as an exterior paint sheen. According to our article satin vs. semi-gloss paint, satin is the ideal paint sheen for bright, vivid colors on your home exterior.

As you know, the higher the sheen, the more durable a paint finish will be. In this case, if you live in a hot, sunny city like San Diego, CA, satin paint can last longer than flat paint and doesn’t quickly fade because it contains more UV protection.

Another benefit is that satin paint is a stretchy, durable & washable paint that resists peeling and mildew. So, in other words, satin is easy to clean and perfect for surfaces that are used or touched often.

Recommended Use of Satin Sheen:

High-traffic areas like:

  • Kid’s bedrooms
  • Hallways
  • Entryways
  • Family rooms
  • Interior doors
  • Interior trim/baseboards
  • Living rooms
  • Playrooms
  • Exterior walls
  • Porch ceilings
  • Woodwork

4. Semi-Gloss Paint: Ideal for Exterior Woodwork and Trim

Semi-Gloss Paint: Ideal for Exterior Woodwork and Trim

Going up on the glossiness scale, we have the second most reflective or shiny type of paint finish: semi-gloss sheen.

In fact, the gloss range of semi-gloss paint is around 40 to 50.

As professional house painters, we have noticed a constant dilemma: the “satin vs. semi-gloss paint” dilemma because homeowners constantly compare both types of paint finishes.

But even though they are constantly compared, you should know that satin and semi-gloss paints differ. While satin paint is the preferred choice for house exterior painting, semi-gloss sheen can be used in exterior woodwork like trim, front doors, and window frames.

Semi-gloss paint is one of the most durable types of paint finish. Thus, it will perfectly hold up to constant handling. Also, this type of paint sheen is perfect for surfaces that require constant cleaning because it is highly resistant to humidity.

However, only professional house painters should apply a semi-gloss paint finish because a glossy surface draws attention and can highlight even the most minor surface flaws, such as bumps or dips.

Recommended Use of Semi-Gloss Paint:

High-traffic and high-moisture areas like:

  • Bathrooms
  • Kitchens
  • Laundry rooms
  • Basement walls
  • Exterior trim
  • Front doors
  • Window frames

5. High-Gloss Paint: Best Paint Sheen for Bathrooms

High-Gloss Paint: Best Paint Sheen for Bathrooms

Our article seems to have increased its brightness. And now, we’ll talk about the glossiest and most durable type of paint finish: high-gloss sheen.

High-gloss paint has the highest sheen level, ranging from 85 to 100.

We don’t recommend high-gloss paint for exterior painting. Instead, we believe it is the ideal paint sheen for bathrooms since you can constantly wash the surface, and it would not deteriorate the paint.

Yet, high-gloss paint is gleaming and can make every bump, scratch, and imperfection stand out. So, to properly apply this type of paint finish, you’ll need to hire a trusted and knowledgeable painting contractor in San Diego, CA.

Recommended Use of High-Gloss Paint: 

  • Bathrooms
  • Fireplaces
  • Doors
  • Windows
  • Trim
  • Moldings
  • Cabinets
  • Furniture
  • Shutters

We'll Help You Choose the Ideal Paint Finish!

Picking the right paint finish for the specific needs of your painting project is just as important as choosing the ideal color scheme.

The gloss level of a paint finish and the type of paint you use (whether acrylic or latex paint ) will affect the performance and durability of the coat, as well as the perception of the colors you choose.

So, in other words, the most crucial aspect when selecting paint for your project is the sheen. After reading this article, you should know about the different paint sheens and the ideal paint finish for every house surface.

For professional advice, make sure to call AMK Painting. We’ll be happy to help you.

Click on the Facebook Icon to Share this Article!

Scroll to Top