Choosing sheen

Getting the perfect paint job has a lot to do with the sheen. But don’t sweat! Here’s how to navigate the mysteries of matt, low sheen, semi gloss and gloss.

Let’s talk about sheen. No, not Charlie – sheen simply refers to the level of shininess in paint. In a nutshell, the higher the sheen, the higher the shine, and the more durable the finish. On the flip side, high sheen paints reflect more light around the room, which means that imperfections in your walls and trims will be more noticeable. It’s also worth noting that colour will change slightly with the sheen level. With a matt finish, more light is absorbed, so the colour will appear darker. When you’re testing your colour scheme, you should keep sheen in mind. Now let’s have a look at British Paints’ main players. 

Matt paint, with its low light reflection, provides a rich, velvety finish. With matt finishes, surface imperfections aren’t very noticeable so it looks soft and sophisticated. However, it is the least durable of all the sheen levels. Living in a calm home that doesn't get a lot of wear and tear? Lucky you! You could definitely opt for a matt finish such as British Paints Clean & Protect Matt – especially if you don't mind a little touching up now and again. A matt finish can also look better if you’ve gone for a darker colour scheme, or if you have a media room where you don’t want light bouncing around and spoiling the viewing experience. 

Low sheen
Low sheen paint, such as British Paints Clean & Protect Low Sheen, forms an eggshell-type finish that is hard wearing. It will still reflect light, but it a more understated way than its high sheen counterparts. Does your home get a fair amount of wear and tear? Do you have pets? Or kids who canon off the hallways? If so then a low sheen washable paint is a better option than matt, as it’s easy to keep clean. 

Semi gloss
British Paints Clean & Protect Semi Gloss gives a slight shine and good durability. It tends to be the go-to on doors, window frames and skirting boards, because it’s bright and breezy and so easy to keep clean. Semi gloss on walls? It used to be common in kitchens and bathrooms, because the higher sheen paints were the only truly washable paints, but that’s not still the case today. That said, it can be an option for walls in high traffic areas that require frequent wipe-downs, or to brighten up a dark room. Bear in mind that it will show unevenness or imperfections in your walls, so looks better in new builds.

Gloss paint has the highest reflective finish of the sheens – the finish is smooth and  almost mirror-like. Once dry, British Paints Clean & Protect Gloss forms a very hard layer. This durability makes it a good choice for areas such as baseboards, skirtings and doors that are likely to get kicked, bumped and scuffed, and need washing more often than walls. It’s also great for highlighting accent features such as fireplace mantles, balustrades and front doors.




Water based
Oil based


Low Sheen
Semi Gloss


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