So, you have a painting project on your hands, and you’ve even settled on your colour choices (we know how challenging this part can be, so congrats on that!). 

But what about choosing the perfect paint FINISH? With so many sheen options, things can get pretty confusing pretty quickly! Should you opt for the Flat or Matte look? Eggshell, Satin or Pearl? Or perhaps, the Semi-Gloss or High-Gloss is the way to go? 

Selecting the right (or wrong) paint finish can make or break a project, so taking the time to understand the unique qualities, advantages and disadvantages of the different product types is a worthwhile investment!  

If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed – asking yourself what exactly IS the difference and why you should actually care – don’t fret!

We’re here to tell you everything you need to know, so you can make solid, informed decisions – guaranteeing the best possible results for every painting project!

As with any major decision, there is a lot to consider. Let’s get the basics out of the way first by defining what paint sheen is, and what the different sheen types have to offer.


Paint sheen levels are defined by the amount of light the final finish will reflect once dry. There is a wide range of options to choose from, but they all generally fall somewhere between FLAT and GLOSS. 

The ideal choice for each particular project will greatly depend on things like lighting, the type of surface being painted, and most importantly, the end use of the space you’re working with. 

As a general rule of thumb, less reflective sheen types are better suited for the lower traffic areas of your home, while glossier finishes will work best in spaces that tend to see a lot of daily action. 


Like everything in life, each paint finish comes with its own set of unique characteristics, benefits and drawbacks. Let’s take a moment to break things down in a little more detail.


This is a finish that has no reflective properties whatsoever, creating a final result with no sheen at all. This type of paint is best used on ceilings and very low-traffic areas, as it offers great coverage for minor surface imperfections, but doesn’t perform well in terms of washability.


A matte paint finish is very similar to flat when it comes to the amount of light it will reflect, providing excellent surface coverage, as well as phenomenal colour depth. It will also go on and dry very smoothly, making it an excellent finish to work with. Although it does provide slightly more durability than the flat finish, we still recommend using it primarily in areas where traffic is fairly low. 


Perhaps the most popular paint finish in residential painting, this crowd-pleaser offers the best of both worlds. Like the matte finish, it provides great coverage and pigmentation. Once fully dry it will also give off a lovely, soft glow, while offering excellent durability, making it the perfect choice for those rooms in your home you use most!

Pearl & Satin:

These two very similar finishes will result in medium gloss levels, reflecting light and landing beautiful lustre and dimension to wainscotting, baseboards, window trim, cabinetry, and interior doors. They are also a good choice for walls, especially in high humidity areas, as they are exceptionally easy to clean and offer great mildew resistance. Do bear in mind that because of the higher sheen levels, these finishes will show every tiny surface imperfection, so meticulous preparation and careful paint application are a must!


Another great option for trim, millwork and doors, this lustrous, highly durable, and easily washable paint will cure to a very smooth, furniture-like finish. This makes it an ideal candidate for highlighting the unique architectural details of your home and the perfect choice for use in kitchen or bathroom cabinet painting. 


This highly reflective finish is extremely durable and offers the highest level of sheen. Although it can be quite striking when used in applications like accent walls, trim, or even in small spaces like powder rooms and mud rooms, it does require the surface you are painting to be exceptionally well prepped, as it will highlight even the tiniest surface blemishes.