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How to Pick the Right Paint Sheen 

image of a painters hand rolling red paint with title card reading: Everything you need to know about exterior paint sheens

Choosing the right paint sheen is a small, but important step when undertaking an exterior painting project. The paint sheen you decide to use will impact the look and feel of your home as well as the durability. Sheens can be challenging, because they aren’t really standardized across brands. This makes it difficult to compare sheens and products. At Kind Home Solutions, we have a commitment to using the best paint products available, so most of our clients go with Sherwin Williams or Benjamin Moore. For that reason, we’ll look at these paint manufacturers sheens to guide you on how to pick the right paint sheen.

Which Paint is Best for Exterior

Sheens can be a challenge to nail down if you haven’t already chosen your paint product. As we already mentioned, paint sheens are not universal. This means that a satin sheen from one company could be very different from a satin sheen in another brand. For this reason, we do recommend that you choose your paint product before determining sheen. 

When it comes to which paint is best for your exterior, you have quite a few options and price ranges to choose from. We focus on providing clients with the longest lasting paint job for the best price, so most of our clients end up with a top of the line exterior paint. For Sherwin Williams, we typically use Emerald Exterior or Emerald Rain Refresh. Our Benjamin Moore clients typically choose Aura for it’s fade resistant technology and rich finish. Once you have determined which brand AND paint product you’ll use, then you can begin experimenting with sheens.

photo of a blue and white victorian painted by kind home solutions

Which Paint Sheen Should You Use on Exterior?

Since we’re focused on the exterior of your home there are a few things we need to keep in mind. Exteriors are subjected to the changing elements, so it’s important to use a paint with at least some gloss to it. Gloss is what helps a paint’s durability by creating an additional layer of protection. Gloss also helps to ensure your home is easy to clean. PRO-TIP: Washing your home regularly can really help expand the lifespan of your paint. 

On the other hand, you don’t want a sheen that is too glossy. Too much gloss will draw attention to any imperfections on your home due to the gloss’s reflective nature. If your home does have some unwanted imperfections, a finish like semi-gloss or gloss would not be good for the exterior of your home. In general, we recommend a satin finish for Sherwin Williams’ exterior products and a low-luster finish with Benjamin Moore’s Aura. Although these sheens have different names they are both designed to provide protection and create a low-reflective finish, which is perfect for the exterior of your home.

Is Satin or Flat Better for Exterior Paint?

Paint sheen comparison

We do meet with a good number of clients who request a flat sheen on their home, because they don’t like the “shine”.  This can complicate things a little bit. If you use a flat on the exterior of your home you don’t have that added protection built in.  This can cause your paint to fail prematurely and that will cost you time and money. If you’re concerned about your home being too shiny then we recommend you choose a product like Aura from Benjamin Moore, which can be done in low luster. Benjamin Moore’s low luster tends to be slightly less shiny than Sherwin Williams satin, so it might be worth upgrading to that option if shine is a concern. That being said, the shine you see when your home is initially painted will fade over the first year or two, so keep that in mind. 

Which Sheen is Best on Stucco?

The one instance we recommend a flat sheen is when you paint stucco. Stucco is a very porous surface and it generally has quite a bit of texture. A flat sheen will help hide the texture and any imperfections in the stucco pattern. If you do use a satin sheen on your stucco you may notice that the texture stands out more. If you want to emphasize the texture in your stucco then use a satin finish. Otherwise, we would recommend a flat sheen on stucco surfaces.

Does Paint Sheen Matter?


As you can see, the sheen of your paint plays a huge part in the aesthetics of your paint as well as the longevity of your project. The correct sheen can provide you with a longer lasting paint job and help protect your home. Sheens do fade over time. So, if it comes out shinier than you’d like, that shine should reduce over the first year or so. For more information about products and sheens, check out this article from Sherwin Williams.