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10 Misconceptions about Interior Paint Finishes

December 1st, 2023 | 3 min read

By Kaylea Kuhlman

Benjamin Moore Regal Select eggshell finish stack of paint cans.

Painting a room involves more than just choosing the perfect color. The finish, or sheen, of the paint, can significantly impact the overall look, feel, and functionality of a space. With various sheen options available, from flat to high gloss, it's easy to fall into common misconceptions about which sheen to use and where. 

At Brush & Roll Painting, we have painted thousands of homes across Omaha and surrounding areas. We have over 25 years of experience with paint sheens on interior walls. Along the way, we have caught some rumors about paint finishes and found them inaccurate.

In this article, we'll debunk some of these misconceptions and shed light on the truths behind paint sheens, helping you make informed decisions when transforming your living spaces.

Common Misconceptions about Paint Sheens

1. Flat paint is not washable

Reality: Flat paint is washable when there is a higher-quality paint used. The misconception that flat paint is not washable began with people using low-quality paint and being unable to wash it thoroughly.

Low-quality paint is difficult to wash, no matter the finish. For washable paint, steer towards stain-blocking paint. These paints are higher in price but will give you the best bang for your buck with their durability and color payoff. 

2. Higher-Sheen is Always Better for Durability

Reality: While higher-sheen paints like semi-gloss and gloss tend to be more durable and easier to clean, they also highlight imperfections on the surface. It's essential to consider the condition of the surface you're painting on. 

Glossier finishes might not be suitable for walls with many imperfections, as they can make flaws more noticeable. However, these flaws can be repaired with detailed prep work.

3. Flat Paint is the Only Option for Hiding Imperfections

Reality: While flat paint does minimize the appearance of surface imperfections, eggshell or satin finishes are also great options. 

The true secret for hiding imperfections is repairing them with detailed prep work. 

4. Glossy Paints Are Only for Trim and Woodwork

Reality: Glossy paints are often used for trim and woodwork due to their durability and easy cleaning, but they can also be used creatively on walls to add visual interest and depth to a room. They can work well in small doses or in spaces where you want to create a focal point.

5. Satin and Eggshell are the Same Finish

Reality: Satin and eggshell finishes are similar in sheen, but there can be slight differences. Satin finishes are slightly glossier and can be more durable, making them suitable for higher-traffic areas. Eggshell finishes have a softer appearance and are often preferred for walls in living spaces.

6. Paint Sheen Doesn't Affect Color

Reality: The sheen of the paint can affect how the color appears on the wall. Higher sheen paints tend to reflect more light and can make colors look slightly different than they do on a sample or in a matte finish. It's always a good idea to test a small area before committing to a whole room.

7. Glossy Finishes Always Make Spaces Look Larger

Reality: While glossy finishes can reflect more light and create a sense of openness, using them exclusively doesn't always make a space look larger. In fact, the reflective quality can also emphasize the proportions of a room, making it appear more crowded if not used thoughtfully.

8. You Can't Paint Over a Higher Sheen with a Lower Sheen

Reality: While it's recommended to sand and prime glossy surfaces before applying a lower sheen paint, it's entirely possible to paint over a higher sheen with a lower one. Proper surface preparation is key to ensure good adhesion.

9. Paint Sheen Can't Be Changed

Reality: If you find that a certain paint sheen isn't working for you, you can usually repaint it with a different sheen. Just make sure the surface is properly prepared and you choose the right type of paint for the new sheen you're applying.

10. Each Type of Finish Looks the Same For Every Brand & Quality

Reality: The type of finish will vary depending on the brand and quality of the paint. Not all eggshell finishes will look the same. The same thing holds for satin, flat, gloss, etc.

Each paint brand (Sherwin Williams, Benjamin Moore, etc.) has a number system that the paint falls on to level its sheen. This scale is from 1 to 100, 1 being the most flat, least glossy paint, to 100 being super glossy.

While one paint brand might provide a certain range for one finish, another may be completely different.

The higher the paint quality, the more each finish will be used to its full potential. 


By dispelling these common misconceptions, you're now better equipped to make thoughtful choices when selecting the right sheen for your interior painting project. Remember that factors such as the room's function, lighting, and surface condition play pivotal roles in your decision-making. 

Take the time to explore samples, consult color experts, and experiment with different sheens to discover the perfect balance between aesthetics and practicality for your living spaces.

If a free color consultation, a high-quality product, detailed prep work, and a 9-year warranty interests you, start by scheduling an estimate with Brush & Roll Painting. In addition to providing a great customer experience, these are just a few of the things we care about and strive to provide for homeowners.


Next, learn about the true difference between high-quality quality vs. low-quality paint. From the ingredients to durability, we dive into the differences between these types of paint so that you can determine the best one for you.

Kaylea Kuhlman

Kaylea is the Brush & Roll Painting Content Manager.