What Are the Differences Between Semi-Matte & Glossy Finishes?

Paint comes in several sheens or finishes. They are typically labeled as flat, eggshell, satin, semigloss and gloss, though there are slight variations in their names. Flat paint, for example, is often called matte, and eggshell is sometimes called semimatte. Whatever you call them, there are differences among the sheens. If you are trying to decide between a semimatte or glossy finish, several considerations should be weighed.

Bedroom in home
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Restful spaces are typically painted with a flat or semi-matte finish.

Light Reflection

Light readily reflects off of glossy paints. Semimatte paints, on the other hand, only reflect light slightly. In a small space, a glossy paint can help make a room feel larger, much like a mirror. The extra light in the room also brightens up the space. However, this same light reflection can make glossy paint less desirable as a wall paint, especially in places that are meant to restful, such as in the living room or bedroom. Flatter finishes, such as semimatte, have less glare, making these spaces more pleasant.

Ease of Cleaning

Glossy paint is easiest of all the paint finishes to clean. A moist rag can remove fingerprints, grease splatters and everyday dirt and grime. Even crayon and pen marks are often easy to remove from a wall painted with a glossy paint. Flat or matte finishes, though, are difficult to clean. A semimatte paint can be a suitable compromise, providing both an elegant, soft finish and a surface that is easier to clean than one covered with a flat paint.

Hiding Imperfections

Glossy paint does not hide imperfections. Bumps, divots, nail pops, scratches and scuff marks stand out if the walls are painted with a glossy paint. Semimatte paints, though, help hide all of these imperfections. Also, uneven walls won't be as noticeable if they are painted with a semimatte paint. There are other ways to hide imperfections, though, such as painting the walls with textured paint or using a technique like sponging.

Room Paints

Glossy paints are often reserved for bathrooms and kitchens. They can withstand the regular cleaning these areas of the home often require. They also fare better in a moister environment than paints with a flatter finish. Some families paint playrooms, kid bedrooms and other high-traffic areas with a glossy paint, though, a semigloss paint has similar benefits without the extra shine. The living spaces in the home, including bedrooms and family rooms, are typically painted with the softer finish that a semimatte paint provides. Glossy paints are also often used for trim, such as moldings and baseboards, adding some extra light and texture in the space.