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Matte, Satin, or Gloss? Lighting Up a Room with Paint
Is there a difference between satin and eggshell? Is latex paint less shiny than oil-based paint? How do you measure gloss, anyway? Find out with Groupon's look at paint sheen.
Velvet. Platinum. Pearl. Suede. These aren’t paint colors—they’re levels of sheen, which have fancifully proliferated since the days when interior paint came only in flat, semi-gloss, and gloss. The truth is, assigning sheen levels isn’t an exact science. A 2003 study in PaintPro found that, when checked with a gloss meter (a tool that measures reflection from a surface), paints placed in the same category of sheen in fact varied considerably between brands, with latex paints in particular tending to reflect less light than their counterparts. From lowest to highest sheen, here’s a look at the most common categories along this slippery continuum.
Flat/Matte: At the lowest end of the sheen spectrum, matte paints do wonders to hide the surface imperfections that glossier paints can highlight. Because they tend to hold dirt, they’re most often used on low-traffic surfaces such as bedroom walls or the ceilings of non-lizard households.
Eggshell/Low-Luster: Named “eggshell” because their slight sheen evokes that of a freshly painted egg, low-luster paints create an elegant look that is easier to wash than flat paints. As with all paints that fall somewhere between matte and semi-gloss, eggshell paints can create a subtle sense of warmth and depth in a room.
Satin: Satin paints are easier to clean than eggshell, and thus ideal for higher-traffic rooms, such as kids’ bedrooms.
Semi-Gloss: Paints with glossy qualities tend to show nicks and uneven surfaces, but they can also stand up to a lot more scrubbing. These paints are ideal for wet or messy environments such as kitchens and bathrooms.
Gloss/High Gloss: The shiniest paint variety, high-gloss provides a look reminiscent of enamel or even plastic. It’s most often used to highlight smooth and carefully prepared surfaces such as trim, woodwork, cabinets, and doors.