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Elegant living room

Need durability in your paint? Not all paint sheens are created equal, even when comparing the same color of paint from the same brand in different gloss levels. The glossier the paint, the more washable and durable it is. While satin, semi-gloss, and high-gloss paint hold up well on walls in high-traffic areas, the decision comes down to how washable the walls need to be compared to the shininess that goes along with it.

Paint Finishes

The less shiny the paint, the less durable it is. At the lowest end of the spectrum is flat or matte paint, which is best for an area such as an adult’s bedroom where it won’t be touched much or subject to extreme humidity. Low-gloss paints may discolor or wipe away a little if washed. Satin marks the midway point between flat and high-gloss paint, offering moderate durability and washability without being overly shiny. High-gloss paint holds up to even the most humid and high-traffic areas.

Glossy bathroom wall
High-Gloss Pros and Cons

High-gloss paint is the most durable sheen level of any paint available but it is also very shiny. It is strong enough to hold up in a humid bathroom or room containing a hot tub, as the moisture won’t affect the paint finish. On the downside, the shinier the paint, the more it shows every little flaw on the wall; a small indentation, warped drywall, or nail heads all become more pronounced because of the reflectivity of the paint. Since the paint is so shiny and shows even minute flaws, it typically is reserved for use on trim or doors in high-traffic areas that require continual cleaning to remove greasy, dirty fingerprints and smudges. On an entire wall, the shine may be a bit too much. High-gloss paint is difficult to touch up because the paint-sheen differences are obvious between the fresh and old finishes.

Modern bathroom
Semi-Gloss Pros and Cons

Semi-gloss paint offers many of the benefits of high-gloss paint without being quite as shiny. Less reflectivity means it doesn’t show off the wall’s imperfections quite as much as high-gloss paint does. Semi-gloss paint is ideal on walls in high-traffic areas that also receive a lot of moisture, such as the bathroom or in the kitchen where it may be exposed to food splatters or fingerprints. The downside to semi-gloss paint is it may be difficult to touch up because the sheen on the new paint may be noticeably different than on paint that has been in place for a while.

Satin vs Eggshell
Satin Pros and Cons

Satin paint is durable enough to use on high-traffic walls as it is washable. It holds up well in areas such as hallways, children’s bedrooms, and play areas without being overtly shiny or dull, adding a warm look to the space. The downside is it shows brush strokes or roller marks more than some other paint finishes. In a high-traffic area prone to a lot of moisture such as a bathroom with a shower, semi-gloss is slightly more durable than satin paint.

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