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What Is the Best Exterior Paint Sheen?

What Is the Best Exterior Paint Sheen?

Today, our article will be about what’s the best exterior paint sheen.

In broad terms, the color scheme is more about the aesthetics and appearance, and the paint sheen is more about the protection and performance of the paint you use to protect your house exterior from the elements.

What Is Sheen?

According to the Merriam-Webster, sheen means: “a bright or shining condition.” So, in other words, sheen is a measure of the reflected light from a paint finish.

According to Wikipedia, the different types of paint sheen, listed from the dullest to the shiniest are: flat, matte, eggshell, satin, semi-gloss, and high-gloss paint.

But also, paint’s performance is related to its sheen. In general terms, high-gloss paint is best for wet and high-traffic applications. On the other hand, the dull flat paint is less durable and attracts dirt.

What Is the Best Exterior Paint Sheen?

Eggshell and satin are by far the most popular exterior paint sheens. They have a slight gloss finish which is ideal for hiding surface imperfections and providing a pleasant appearance that appeals to the widest range of homeowners. Both paint sheens are durable and easy to wash and maintain.

Flat Paint Sheen: Good for Living & Dining Rooms

Flat Paint Sheen: Good for Living & Dining Rooms

Flat paint has no shine, so it hides imperfections better than a paint with a higher gloss. Flat paint is porous, and susceptible to fading and mildew problems. Since it doesn’t offer high performance, protection, and durability, flat paint sheen is not used much to paint house exteriors. This type of paint works better for living and dining rooms since they are not exposed to the harsh weather.

Matte Paint Sheen: Great for Walls in the Bedroom

A matte sheen is a low-luster paint. It doesn’t look as dull as a flat paint finish, but in terms of performance is similar to flat paint. This type of paint finish is also porous, so they don’t tolerate repeated washing and scrubbing. Both flat and eggshell paint sheens are better for low-traffic paint applications.

You can’t go wrong using matte paint for bedroom walls and ceilings. 

Eggshell Paint Sheen: Perfect for the Facade of Your House

Eggshell Paint Sheen: Perfect for the Facade of Your House

Eggshell sheen is the most popular exterior paint sheen for the facade of your house for two reasons. The first benefit of using eggshell sheen for your house exterior is that it is a pleasant, not too shiny or dull paint finish. So, it’s a highly versatile option for painting any surface, including wood and stucco.

The other benefit is that this type of sheen can be easily washed and stands up to abrasion better than flat or matte paints.

Satin Paint Sheen: Ideal for Exterior Trim Areas

Satin sheen paints are perfect when you plan to use bright, vivid colors on your home exterior. But if you prefer a less glossy sheen like eggshell finish to paint the exterior of your house, you still can use satin paint to highlight exterior trim areas.

As you know the higher the sheen the more durable a paint finish. If you live in a hot, sunny climate, satin paint can last longer and doesn’t easily fade because it contains more UV protectant.

Another benefit is that satin paint is a stretchy, durable & washable paint that resists peeling and mildew. So, satin paint is ideal for areas that are used or touched often like door frames, windowsills, and trim boards.

And it’s also a good idea to use a slightly glossy paint finish over soffits, fascia, porch ceilings, and other surfaces you would want to highlight.

Semi-Gloss Paint Sheen: Highlights Woodwork

Since we are increasing the brightness in our article (pun intended), we are getting into the most durable types of paint. Semi-gloss paint sheen is perfect for surfaces that require constant cleaning because it is highly resistant to humidity.

Semi-gloss paint does a great job highlighting woodwork like trims, front doors, and window frames. This sheen type holds up to constant handling.

However, this paint finish should only be applied by professional house painters because a glossy surface draws attention and can highlight even the smallest surface flaws, such as bumps or dips.

High-Gloss Paint Sheen: Perfect for Bathrooms

High-Gloss Paint Sheen: Perfect for Bathrooms

Among the levels of paint sheen, this is the most lustrous and durable finish. Most homeowners don’t like this sheen for painting their house exterior walls because it makes their houses look “plastic.”

And even worse than semi-gloss paint, high-gloss paint is very shiny and can make every bump, scratch, and imperfection stand out.

So, it isn’t generally recommended for exterior painting. Instead, we recommend it for bathrooms since you can constantly wash the surface, and it would not deteriorate the paint.


Just as choosing the right exterior color palette is important, also, the paint sheen plays an important role in the appearance and performance of your outdoor paint coat.

Flat and matte paint sheens are too weak and prone to mildew and fading, which makes them only suitable for indoor walls.

Eggshell and satin are your best choice when it comes to exterior paint sheens. They have a slight gloss finish which provides a pleasant appearance that most homeowners love. Both paint sheens are durable and easy to wash and maintain.

On the other hand, semi-gloss and high-gloss paint are just too shiny for everybody. Highly durable, but you have to be careful where you are going to use them because they offer a ratter lustrous finish that can make your home look “plastic.”

In case you need further advice on how to choose the best sheen for your exterior painting project, you can call Next Level Painting at (209) 846-0828. We’ll provide you a free consultation so that you pick the ideal exterior paint finish.

Stay tuned for more awesome and useful topics like this. Till next time!

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