12.31.20 08:49 AM By Change My Paint
Paint Sheen Chart

This is probably the #1 question I receive when doing an interior residential estimate or commercial estimate in Columbia or Lexington. Many owners are confused as to which sheen they want to put on the walls in their home or business. I understand the confusion as it seems that 99% of all paint sales people tend to suggest satin (or eggshell, depending on the brand) paint. We all want to be able to clean our walls or prevent scuffs altogether and a more shiny paints seems the obvious choice for that…but is that true?

First let me say, basically all manufacturers make really good paint. This paint is made of pigments, binders, solvents, and additives. So, if all paint has basically those same ingredients, what makes them so different? Think about this….as a painting contractor, I can go to my local paint supplier and buy interior flat paint mixed to a Navy Blue in 12-15 grades of paint and up to 10 sheens (see above). That paint can range from $8.00 a gallon to $110.00 a gallon. Why does it have to be so confusing? It doesn't but remember, it's all (supposed to be) the same color. Let look at some of the differences.

So What Makes it Different?

I am glad you asked. The QUALITY of the ingredients is different. With a better pigment you will get a richer color, better hiding, and more controlled sheen. With a better binder you get better adhesion to the surface you are painting. And with better additives you will get better properties such as ease of brushing, mold resistance, scuff resistance, drying, and sag resistance. Also a higher quality means less water and more solids per gallon.

People who are in a home that has the original "builder-grade" paint are usually the ones more apt to want to change from flat to basically anything else because they are so unhappy when they attempt to clean their walls and the paint comes off all the way to the drywall. This isn't the fault of the painter but it's what the builder pays the painter to use. It is a low quality paint and is mostly water with a small amount of pigment and binders. The "builder-grade" paint can also come in all the other sheens as well so don't be fooled by the sheen only.

Why are you telling me all this?

90% of the time Carolina Painting and Pressure Cleaning will recommend a high quality interior flat paint for interior painting. Our average flat paint is about $40-$65 per gallon and it takes 1.5 gallons to paint an average bedroom. We do sometimes use a quality satin paint for bathrooms. Let me list a few pros and cons for flat and satin wall paint.

Quality Flat Wall Paint



Exceptional coverage

Better hiding of imperfections in framing or drywall

Ease of blending during touch-up

Dirt resistance


Not as suitable for wet areas without proper ventilation

Quality Satin (or Eggshell) Wall Paint



Decent coverage

Higher water resistance

Scuff resistance


Usually will take two coats for an even sheen and sometimes a primer.

Does not blend and touch ups will almost show

Imperfections in framing or drywall will be magnified greatly by the sheen.

Final Thought

As a professional painting contractor, Carolina Painting and Pressure Cleaning finds that flat paint usually gives a better job and touches up better year after year. What doesn’t clean off can be touched up and blends in to match exceptionally well. That is something most satin paints can’t do.

Changing your wall paint can make a big improvement after years of the same look. If you would like to update your interior them give us a call at  and we will be glad to come out and give you an estimate.

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