What is Low Sheen Paint? A Comprehensive Guide

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click one, I may earn a commission at no cost to you. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Key Takeaways:

  • Low sheen paint has a velvety finish with a subtle gloss that is more durable and cleanable than flat paints.
  • It strikes a balance between durability and hide, making it suitable for high-traffic areas that need frequent cleaning.
  • The subtle sheen enhances color compared to flat paint while minimizing surface imperfections.
  • Low sheen paint resists dirt, stains, and wear better than flat paint but not as well as higher gloss options.
  • It is an excellent choice for kitchens, baths, kids’ rooms, hallways – areas needing washability and durability.

What Exactly is Low Sheen Paint?

Low sheen paint, sometimes called eggshell paint, offers a delicate balance between durability and hide. The name comes from its velvety, eggshell-like appearance. It has more gloss than flat or matte paint but less than satin, semi-gloss, or high-gloss paints. This results in a finish with subtle light-reflecting properties that provide beauty without being overly shiny.

So what causes the delicate sheen? Low sheen paints have a higher ratio of binders compared to flat paint. Binders give paint its adhesion and durability. The extra binders provide a harder finish that reflects more light. The polymers in the binders also allow for greater stain resistance and scrubbability. At the same time, low sheen paint retains enough pigments to provide excellent hide and coverage.

What is Low Sheen Paint? A Comprehensive Guide

What Are the Key Benefits of Choosing Low Sheen Paint?


The extra binders make low sheen paint more durable and scuff-resistant than flat paint. While not as tough as higher sheens, it can better withstand frequent cleaning, kids, pets, and other daily wear and tear. This makes it a popular choice for high-traffic areas.


The subtle gloss allows low sheen paint to be washed occasionally without damaging the finish. Its smoother surface resists staining and cleans up easily with water and mild soap. This is a key benefit for kitchens, baths, utility rooms, and kids’ spaces.


Low sheen offers a smooth, uniform appearance while minimizing surface imperfections. The delicate gloss helps enhance colors compared to flat paint.


Low sheen strikes an ideal balance between durability and hide. It can be used in nearly any room where you want the subtle lighting effects and depth of a higher sheen without the shine.


With proper priming, low sheen paint can cover surface flaws well. It typically requires two coats for flawless coverage. The extra binders allow it to hide better than flat paint.

How Does Low Sheen Paint Compare to Other Paint Finishes?

Versus Flat/Matte

Flat or matte paint has no shine at all. While it excels at hiding flaws, it scuffs easily and stains must be painted over rather than cleaned. Low sheen is more durable, cleanable, and enhances colors.

Versus Eggshell

Low sheen and eggshell paints have similar levels of gloss, but low sheen is slightly more shiny. Both offer durability and washability. Low sheen reflects a bit more light. Eggshell may hide flaws slightly better.

Versus Satin

Satin paint has medium gloss, more than low sheen but less than semi-gloss. It is durable enough for high-traffic spaces but shows more brush marks. Low sheen better hides flaws.

Versus Semi-Gloss

Semi-gloss has noticeable shine and excellent scrubbability. However, it accentuates surface imperfections. Low sheen offers a compromise between durability and hide.

Versus High-Gloss

High-gloss paint has a mirror-like shine but magnifies flaws. Low sheen has enough durability for cleaning without heavy reflectivity.

So in summary, low sheen hits the sweet spot, providing subtle sheen for depth without excessive shine or compromise on coverage.

What is Low Sheen Paint? A Comprehensive Guide

In Which Rooms Should You Use Low Sheen Paint?

Kitchens and Bathrooms

The need for frequent cleaning makes low sheen paint an excellent choice for kitchens and baths. Its durability handles moisture, splatters, and scrubbing. The finish resists stains from grease, soap, and grime.

Hallways and High-Traffic Areas

Areas with lots of bumps and scrapes demand a tougher paint. Low sheen is scuff and stain-resistant, hiding minor marks while allowing deep cleaning. Its velvety look complements vibrant and neutral colors.

Kids’ Rooms and Playrooms

With kids and toys, washability is key. Low sheen paint withstands cleaning, scuffs, fingerprints, and craft messes. Its smooth surface makes it easy to wipe crayon, marker, or paint off walls. Vibrant colors pop while still hiding doodles.

Living Rooms and Bedrooms

Low sheen adds depth and enhances wall colors in main living areas without too much shine. It complements both bold accent walls and muted, neutral backdrops. The finish stays looking fresh despite everyday wear.

Offices and Classrooms

For productivity and learning, low sheen paint reduces glare while providing a cleanable surface. It hides pen and pencil marks that can be easily wiped away. The subtle sheen makes it suitable for both traditional and modern spaces.

What About Exterior Use?

While low sheen paint can work well indoors, it is usually not the best choice for exterior painting projects. Because exterior surfaces endure much tougher exposure to sun, rain, wind, and temperature extremes, they require paints specifically engineered for durability.

Most experts recommend using exterior paints with higher sheens on the outside of a home. Satin or semi-gloss exterior paints provide excellent protection. They resist damage from UV rays, prevent moisture intrusion, deter mold and mildew growth, and offer better stain protection.

Low sheen exterior paints may not be able to withstand years of outdoor exposure. Ultimately, it’s best to choose an exterior paint designed especially for home exteriors over interior paints like low sheen. Investing in the right coating will keep the outside of your home beautifully protected.

Things to Keep in Mind When Using Low Sheen Paint

Prep Work is Crucial

As with any paint, proper prep work ensures an attractive, long-lasting finish with low sheen paint. Fill cracks, sand glossy surfaces, remove loose paint, clean deeply, and prime if needed. Use painter’s tape for sharp edges. Taking these steps helps the paint adhere tightly.

Mind the Lighting

The amount of natural and artificial light affects the look of any paint with sheen. View sample boards in the actual lighting conditions to avoid surprises. Low sheen paint will pick up more light and shadows than flat paint.

Go for Quality

Higher quality low sheen paints have finely ground pigments and optimal polymer binder levels. These attributes help the paint apply smoothly while maximizing durability and stain resistance. Investing in quality paint leads to better results.

Consider Sheen Consistency

Differences in sheen are more noticeable on the same wall. When touching up, box new paint first to ensure it matches the original sheen level. New and freshly painted walls may appear shinier until the paint fully cures.

Clean with Care

Use a soft sponge or cloth with mild soap and warm water to gently clean low sheen walls. Avoid abrasive cleaners or scrub pads which can mar the finish over time. Promptly wipe spills and stains to prevent them from setting.

Frequently Asked Questions About Low Sheen Paint

What is the best way to apply low sheen paint?

Use a high-quality nylon or polyester brush, a 1/4 or 3/8 nap roller, or an airless sprayer for applying low sheen paint. Pour paint into a roller tray and fully saturate the roller. Apply paint in a “W” pattern, blending as you go. Finish with strokes all in one direction.

Does low sheen paint require a primer?

Most surfaces will need a primer coat first to maximize hide and help the low sheen paint adhere properly. However, some quality low sheen paints contain built-in primer. Read labels or consult a paint expert to determine if a separate primer is needed.

Can you mix sheens when painting a room?

It’s best to use the same sheen on all walls in a room. Variations in sheens are very apparent where walls meet. The differences are most noticeable with higher sheens like satin and semi-gloss. With low sheen, it can work in some cases if sheens are very similar.

How long does low sheen paint take to dry?

At 70°F and 50% relative humidity, low sheen paint typically dries to the touch within 1 hour. Recoat time is around 4 hours. Drying times vary based on temperature, humidity, ventilation, paint color, and film thickness. Darker colors and thicker films take longer.

Does low sheen work in bathrooms?

Yes, low sheen paint is an excellent choice for bathrooms. Its subtle gloss makes it mold/mildew resistant and allows moisture to bead up so walls dry faster. The durable finish cleans up easily after splatters and withstands frequent scrubbing.

Can you get low sheen paint in any color?

Low sheen paints are widely available in thousands of colors. Custom colors can be mixed at most paint stores if needed. Very deep colors may not look great in low sheen since it accentuates color unevenness. Softer muted or mid-tone shades generally work best.

Is low sheen paint eco-friendly?

Many major brands now offer low VOC, environmentally-friendly low sheen paints that are free of harmful chemicals. These are great options for homes with kids, seniors, or those sensitive to odors and toxins. Most latex low sheen paint can even be disposed of normally instead of requiring hazardous waste handling.

How long will walls painted in low sheen last?

Properly applied low sheen paint will generally last 3-5 years on interior walls before needing repainting. Factors like amount of traffic, cleansing, quality of preparation and application, and color choice affect durability. Touch-ups can extend the life of low sheen further.


For residential settings where durability and easy cleaning are desired, low sheen paint offers the perfect subtle sheen. Its velvety surface stands up to bumps and spills while offering enough reflectivity to provide an attractive, uniform appearance. Low sheen is right at home in kitchens, baths, kid zones, hallways, or as an all-purpose paint for those wanting a step above flat paint. Just be sure to properly prep so this versatile paint can deliver lasting beauty and protection.

About The Author

Scroll to Top