Choosing a colour is just the beginning. How do you know which sheen is right for your needs?

Bad news, guys: Choosing a paint doesn’t end at colour, or even at oil versus latex. The final step in this major life decision? Picking the right sheen for your space.  “A sheen can majorly affect the impact of a colour,” explains Quinn Larson, Color Marketing Project Manager at Behr. “A flat finish and a high-gloss finish can make a colour look totally different.”With that in mind, we’re diving in to the world of sheens—how to pick the right one for your needs, where to use each one, and how to get a little creative with your options.

Things to Consider when Choosing a Sheen

Pick a sheen that works for your lifestyle. Make sure to think about how a room is used and choose a sheen that’s durable enough to deal with the traffic a room gets, or the people who use it: kids can put a lot of wear on a paint, so picking something durable if you’ve got little ones around will save you from frequent repainting.Pick a sheen that works for your surface. A common mistake is not evaluating the condition of your surface. Certain sheens will highlight problem areas more than others, so choose one that will hide those imperfections, or grab some sandpaper and get to work smoothing things out before you start painting.

The Glossary: What Sheen Do I Need?

sheen_int_FlatEnamelFlat/MatteThis is the least shiny sheen and the type that will hide imperfections best. These flat finishes don’t reflect light, so they won’t cast shadows that will make imperfections in the wall stand out. Lower sheens, though, are less durable.sheen_int_EggShellEnamelEggshellSomewhere between a high sheen and low sheen, hiding imperfections while providing slightly more durability than a matte finish.sheen_int_SatinEnamelSatinSlightly higher sheen than eggshell. At this point, you’ll start to see more wall texture come through—but because it’s more durable, it’s a great choice for high-traffic areas or homes with kids and animals. Great dirt resistance, and it can stand up to a scrubbing.sheen_int_SemiGlossEnamelSemi-glossYou’ll spot semi-gloss mainly on trim because it’s durable, but because of its high resistance, it’s also great for areas like kitchens or bathrooms that may experience a lot of moisture. sheen_int_HiGlossEnamelHigh-glossIt’s nice and durable, and finishes with a super shine, but it will show every little nook, cranny and bump on your wall, so use with caution. The colour becomes much richer with this finish too—you get a depth a matte won’t give you. 

Feeling inspired?

Check out these three fun projects that mix-and-match sheens.