Flat Paint Vs Semi Gloss

Choosing Between Matte And Satin

Demonstration of flat versus semi-gloss paint for an owner we property manage for.

Generally speaking, both matte and satin paint finishes are great options. The choice between satin or matte depends in large part on which room or surface you are painting.

Is it a high-traffic area like a mudroom or hallway that gets scuffs? Perhaps a satin sheen works better on the walls than matte because its easier to clean.

Does your ceiling or wall have lots of imperfections or bumps? Then you should choose matte over satin because it hides surface imperfections better.

In this guide, well highlight factors that most affect which of the two types of paint sheens work best for your particular home painting project.

Furthermore, well discuss how lighting, room functionality, and different surfaces impact which type of finish you choose. Ultimately helping you make the right choice between the two sheens before purchasing any paint cans as a homeowner.

Where Should You Use High

High-gloss finishes are perfect for door trims, woodwork, molding, cabinets, kitchens, bathrooms and even outdoor applications. Since it is the most durable type of paint available, you can also count on the longevity of the application. If you plan on staying in your home for many years, consider the benefits of applying high-gloss paint to high-traffic areas that will see dirt and damage. Due to the highly reflective nature of the paint, hiring a professional to apply it is a better choice, as it is challenging to maintain an even coat. The imperfections of the application will be far more noticeable when compared with flat, eggshell, satin or even semi-gloss finishes.

What Is It About Central Oregon That Is So Hard On The Exterior Of My Home

Many would say it is the intense sun exposure of the high desert, and I wouldn’t argue with that. But there are other places where it is just as sunny. At Webfoot, we believe it is the extreme temperature swings that we experience that really separates us from other places. We’ve all seen it… 90 degrees and sunny during the day, 35 degrees and cold at night. That is a huge swing! In a 24 hour period your siding and trim has expanded with the heat, shrunk with the cold, and then re-expanded. No wonder we are seeing falling trim and siding on so many homes.

So what can we do about it?

Questions??? Check out our Exterior House Painting section, then give us a call and we explain all this in more detail and even show you homes that have been painted in flat, satin, and matte.

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Choosing A Paint Sheen

It might not seem like an important detail, but sheen is a crucial part of what makes a paint work in a particular project. From flat to high-gloss, theres a range of options to choose from, and each one is suited for different situations. Here are some of the most common sheens, and the differences between them:

How A Paint Finish Is Determined

Bathroom Paint Flat Or Semi Gloss

Paints with glossier finishes, like satin or semi-gloss, are produced using higher levels of resin and lower levels of pigmentation. Paints with a matte or flat finish contain higher levels of pigmentation and lower amounts of resin, making them less shiny. Latex and oil paints alike are available in a variety of sheens. Nearly every sheen and finish can be used in your home, some are just suited for certain spaces better than others. Below are some basic rules to go by when choosing the best paint finish for each room in your home.

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The Cost Between The Two Is Negligible But You May Pay A Few Cents Less On The Dollar For Satin

Generally speaking, the more gloss a paint offers, the more it will cost. Semi-gloss paint is manufactured with more binders than satin paint in order to deliver the reflection and durability for which its known. So, if youre looking to a little bit of money repainting walls throughout the whole home, satin is the most budget-worthy option of the two that still offers a hint of sheen.

Eggshell Vs Satin Paint

The difference between eggshell and satin finishes is the texture and appearance. Eggshell offers little to no shine while providing a unique texture similar to real eggshells. In contrast, satin looks like a velvet shine that gives your walls an elegant appearance.

Eggshell is a great paint option for rooms with medium foot traffic, like gathering areas, while satin can withstand more elements such as grease, moisture and heat. Since satin has a higher sheen, this finish offers more durability. Depending on the room, you can decide whether durability is at the top of your priorities.

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How To Compare Flat Or Semigloss Paint

House paint is available in assorted finishes, or sheen levels, to accommodate a variety of painting needs and preferences. You need to ask yourself a couple of questions when comparing two of those finishes: flat and semigloss. How do you want the painted area to look, and how do you expect the paint finish to function? Knowing the differences between a flat and semigloss paint will help you make an informed decision for your next painting project.

Where Should You Use Eggshell Paint

Rustoleum – Flat, Semi-Gloss or Gloss Black?

Ideally, eggshell paint is best suited for ceilings, bedrooms, dining rooms and living areas where there is not a lot of dirt build-up or traffic. In addition, its medium-level durability provides added protection that a flat finish does not. For areas such as walls, eggshell works best and is easier to clean. It would not be suited for a kitchen or bathroom space.

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When Should You Use Low

If you are having trouble deciding if low-gloss paint is right for you, consider the walls texture and the rooms purpose. Low-gloss finishes are highly durable and ideally suited to high-traffic areas of the home. They also provide better resistance to stains and damage. However, because of their higher reflectivity, you will be unable to hide imperfections in the wall.

Whats The Difference Between Matte Satin Flat And Gloss Paint

Matte and Flat

These paint finishes deliver a smooth, subtle look and show little to no sheen when dry since they absorb light.

  • Pros: Matte and flat finishes cover imperfections in surface and application, making them a great choice for ceilings as well as walls in the bedroom, dining room and living room. You can easily touch up this finish.
  • Cons: In general, they hold dirt and are difficult to clean because cleaning can actually remove the finish. Some manufacturers, such as Behr, Sherwin Williams and Benjamin Moore, make scrubbable versions that allow for easier cleaning. Do not use in bathrooms, the kitchen or a kid’s room.


This silky, smooth paint finish retains its pearl-like sheen when dry.

  • Pros: A satin finish reflects more light than matte and stands up well to washing. Use in high-traffic areas such as bathrooms, the kitchen and a kid’s room as well as on trim and molding throughout the house.
  • Cons: This finish does not hide imperfections in surface or application any touch-ups will stand out.

Semi-gloss and Gloss

When dry, these paint finishes reflect the most light, providing a bright sheen.

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When Should You Use Satin Paint

Because satin has more gloss and durability than matte and eggshell finishes, the application can take place in more areas in the home. It is also easier to clean than the lower reflective counterparts. It is ideal for more active rooms in the house and can even be used outdoors due to its higher durability. Consider the room where the satin paint will go. Unlike eggshell or matte paints, satin does not hide imperfections and can show an uneven application.

What Paint Finish Should I Choose

Why you should ditch the semi

Ultimately, your choice of finish is a personal preference. If you love the richer, less reflective look, opt for an eggshell paint finish. And conversely, if you love the look of a finish that’s full of luster, opt for the shinier, semi-gloss paint finish.

If you’re unsure of which look you prefer, these designer-approved guidelines will steer you in the right direction. – Eggshell finish: You really can’t go wrong with our Perfect Eggshell finish. It’s great for those everyday spaces like bedrooms, bathrooms, living rooms or kitchens. An eggshell finish will be more forgiving when it comes to imperfections on your walls, and is durable and easy to clean. Semi-gloss finish: This is the best finish for your trims such as baseboards, mouldings and even cabinets and doors. It’s also a good choice for highly trafficked area that gets lots of wear and tear such as a mudroom. A semi-gloss finish will offer maximum durability, will be more stain and scuff resistant, plus, it’s a breeze to clean.

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Tips For Selecting Paint Finishes

In addition to choosing a paint finish that falls into one of these types, you also can combine types to create the perfect finish. Before meeting with your professional painter, use the guide below for our professional recommendation based on each room in your house:


  • Requirements Easy to clean and durable paint in a high traffic area
  • Recommendation Semi-gloss or high gloss paint


  • Requirements Moisture resistance and easy-to-clean walls
  • Recommendation Semi-gloss or high gloss paint


  • Requirements Low traffic area with little light reflection
  • Recommendation Flat or matte finish


  • Requirements: Easy-to-clean walls that reflect light
  • Recommendation Semi-gloss of gloss finish

Dining Room

  • Requirements Clean-looking, smooth-looking, elegant finish
  • Recommendation Semi-gloss, satin, or eggshell finish

Family Room

  • Requirements Clean-looking walls that hide imperfections in high-traffic area
  • Recommendation Semi-gloss or stain finish


  • Requirements Inexpensive paint that hides imperfections and doesnt need to be cleaned
  • Recommendation Flat or matte finish

Interior Trim

  • Requirements Durable paint that is easy to clean and helps windows pop.
  • Recommendation High-gloss paint

Other Paint Finish Considerations

When I Get An Estimate Can I Expect There To Be Cost Overruns

Not with Webfoot!

With many contractors this is a common occurrence. But with Webfoot the price we quote you will not change unless you change the scope of the job. Meaning, if you decide to have an additional wall painted, have some shutters painted, or decide you want your shed painted as well, that would change the scope of the project and a new assessment would then be made. Other than those type of situations the bid we quote you will not change.

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Tips For Choosing The Right Sheen

If your paint color is dark and rich but you dont want a super shiny effect, step down at least one level on the sheen scale. Thats because the darker and richer the paint color is, the more colorant it has, which boosts sheen. Ditto if youre painting a large, sun-washed, or imperfect wall. The higher the sheen, the more defects will show.

Adding sheen also adds to the cost, usually an extra dollar or two per gallon as you step up on the sheen scale.


Eggshell Paint Can Show Wall And Application Imperfections

What Is The Best Paint Sheen To Use: Flat, Satin, or Semigloss?

Flat paint definitely downplays a poor drywall job or other surface imperfections. If you want to downplay textured walls and ceilings, flat paint is definitely the way to go. If you are a novice painter, it wont show your inexperience as much, either. If you need to touch up a wall for some reason, you can just repaint the small area, rather than repaint the entire wall.

Heres my counter argument: If you are hiring professional painters, they have the skill to apply the eggshell paint in a way that wont show roller and brush marks. And if the drywall is imperfect to begin with, just fix it rather than downplay its flaws with boring, flat paint. And if you are in an older or historic home, embrace the patina of the aged walls and enjoy the enhanced beauty and durability that eggshell paint provides!

The Decorologist

When discussing this flat or eggshell paint finish debate with graduates of my Psychological Color Expert course in our private Facebook group, these were a couple of comments that draw from real-life experience:

The Decorologist

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Matte Finish Vs Satin And Gloss: A Guide To Paint Finish Types

Whats the difference between matte, satin, and gloss paint? The amount of light reflected, imperfections shown, and durability. The less light reflected, the less durable the finish however, fewer imperfections are shown. Matte will reflect little to no light, satin retains a pearl-like sheen, whereas semi-gloss and gloss finishes reflect the most light. Lets review the pros and cons of each in detail.

Types Of Paint Finishes

When its time to paint a room in your home, color isnt the only thing to consider. Choosing the right types of paint finishes will determine the final look of your room. With so many types of wall paint to choose from, its important to understand which finish or sheen works best in certain spaces. This guide will help you choose the best paint for walls around your home and decide between different paint finishes such as satin vs. eggshell.

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Why Gloss Is Important

The gloss level of paint can have a significant impact on both appearance and serviceability. Increasing gloss improves the durability of paints including scrub-, stain- and moisture-resistance. However, higher gloss levels tend to highlight defects and imperfections on a surface.

Gloss level also affects color perception. The same color with a different gloss will appear as a different color. The color in a higher gloss paint will appear brighter and richer than the same color in a lower gloss paint.

What Is Gloss Paint

Choosing The Right Paint For Your Remodel

The glossiness of a paint is dependent on the size of the paint particles in the paint itself. So, the smaller the paint particles, the glossier the paint. Additionally, the amount of paint-resin or binder in the paint also affects how glossy the paint is the more binder in the paint, the glossier the paint will be.

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When Should You Use High

High-gloss is perfect for high-traffic areas and rooms in your home that will see constant and heavy use. Achieve the highest durability and longevity through high-gloss finishes. While highly reflective paint might show imperfections in your wall or dirt build-up, cleaning is effortless compared to matte or eggshell finishes.

Flat Or Eggshell Paint The Great Debate

You may not know this, but theres a great debate that often goes on between those who specify paint colors and those who are doing the work of painting. Unfortunately, those who are having their homes painted seem to get caught in the middle! Should you use flat or eggshell paint? My hope is that by reading this article, you will be able to make an informed and educated decision regarding this great debate. I wish it were a win-win for all involved, but you are about to learn that its not . . .

First things first: paint comes in various sheens. Sheen refers to the finish of the paint, or how shiny a paint is. Different paint companies may have different sheen options. For example, Benjamin Moore features 7 sheens. From lowest to highest sheen, they are:

The graphic below shows which sheens are recommended for what substrate. It also shows that options with less sheen are more forgiving of imperfections, while those with more sheen are more durable:

Note: the misspelling of architectural in the above chart is not mine, its straight from the Benjamin Moore website.

To add to the confusion, different paint lines within a given paint brand may offer different or limited sheen options. For example, Benjamin Moores Regal Select line offers sheen options in flat, matte, eggshell, satin, and semi-gloss, while its Advance line is only available in matte, satin, semi-gloss, and high gloss.

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What Is The Difference Between Semi Gloss And Eggshell Paint

Semi-gloss paint has a slippery surface and is easy to wipe off. The eggshell finish gives off a subtle glow, making it ideal when satin is not ready. Therefore, the expected effect can be obtained. It is glossier than flat paint, but the inner wall is not as glossy as satin, and it is easier to clean the inner wall than flat paint. Semi-gloss paint, flat paint, or satin paint is best. jeffschultzpainting.com/is-semi-gloss-paint-flat-paint-or-s Search: What is the difference between semi-gloss and egg shell paint?

Does Webfoot Painting Do Interior Painting As Well

Can You Mix Semi-Gloss & Flat Paint?

Of course!

We can paint ceilngs and walls all throughout the house and also offer full trim packages , cabinetry finishing, and wall work/repair using both paint and interior stains. Check out our Interior Painting Prep and our Interior Painting sections for more information.

Winter time is best time for interior painting! That’s when we’re able to offer our most competive winter rates. Give us a call and we can tell you more!

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When To Use Matte Paints

Use matte paints for low-traffic areas like bedrooms, formal dining rooms, and living rooms. Likewise, matte sheens work great on both ceilings and walls or as an accent paint color.

Just remember that matte has a little gloss finish which means scuff and fingerprints will show over time. Accordingly, avoid using matte in high-traffic spaces like hallways, kids bedrooms, and bathrooms.

Also, since matte paint absorbs light, avoid using it in small rooms with little light. In this case, it will make the space look smaller.

All major paint companies, including Sherwin Williams, Benjamin Moore, and Behr, sell matte paint formulated for interior and exterior surfaces.

Indeed, you can use a matte finish for interior spaces or outdoor surfaces like siding. Because it hides imperfections, it works great on bumpier surfaces that have been repainted many times.

For example, many homeowners would use matte on the siding of an 80-year-old victorian home, which has layers of paint. But keep in mind that matte is harder to clean so it may get dirty over time.


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