Basic surface preparation 
Glaze and Glazing

Material descriptions 
Patching drywall 
Paint & varnish removers
Sanding techniques
Sealers & sealants
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Find out how to use the proper paint sheen in your home.


Paints and varnish sheen

Quick chart

Paint and Varnish sheens

Sheen refers to the light reflectivity of the painted or varnished surface. There are varying degrees of sheen’s, from no sheen to high gloss. Paint manufacturers may refer to their paint sheen’s by different names, but essentially they all correspond to these reflective degrees;

  1. Flat finish (matte finish)
  2. Eggshell finish (low-luster)
  3. Satin finish (pearl finish)
  4. Semi gloss finish
  5. High gloss finish

Sheen’s vary due to the amount of crystalline silica suspended in the paint or varnish vehicle (medium). High gloss has virtually no silica, while matte, or flat finish, has a substantial amount of silica per volume.

Standard Uses:

Matte (flat) finish 
Most commonly used for interior ceilings and walls. This finish causes the least amount of light reflection, thus limiting the appearance of an irregularities or blemishes on the surface being painted.

Eggshell finish 
This is the ideal base coat sheen used in decorative painting and faux finishing. The slight sheen allows glaze treatments to flow easily over the surface, while still allowing enough ‘gripping’ power for the glaze to properly adhere to the painted surface.

Decorative painting and Faux finishing Matte finishes do not allow for fluid movement of glaze over the surface, and similarly, semi or high gloss allows easy movement of the glaze but very little adhering ability of the glaze to the painted surface. Glazing on semi or high gloss sheen’s increases the risk of damage to the surface by rubbing, dragging or scrapping against the surface by items such as furniture, pictures, mops and brooms.

Satin (pearl) sheen and semi-gloss
Commonly used for trim details. For example, base moldings, crown molding, doors and window frames. This paint sheen is also an appropriate finish for use in kitchens and bath areas due to the smoother, less porous surface allowing for easy clean up.

Wood, painted and stained floors: Satin varnishes are appropriate for use on floors because of its relative hardness and limited light reflective qualities.

Furniture: Satin varnish is appropriate for use on most furniture.

High gloss finish. 
Commonly used for appliances or any item or surface requiring easy clean up and a non-porous surface.


Quick Chart - using the proper paint sheen
Paint sheen recommended uses
Flat  finish
(matte finish)
Interior walls and ceilings
Eggshell finish
Interior walls. Proper sheen for most decorative finishes.
Satin  finish
(Pearl finish)
Trim, moldings, doors and windows. 
Floor finishes: such as clear varnishes and sealers over painted faux treatments
Furniture: Varnishes and sealers
Semi-gloss finish Trim, moldings, doors and windows
Kitchens and bath areas (areas requiring sanitary surfaces)
High gloss finish Kitchens and bath areas (areas requiring sanitary surfaces)





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