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Selecting the Right Sheen: A Comprehensive Guide to Exterior Paint Finishes for Homes


Choosing the right exterior paint finish for your home is a decision that requires careful consideration. The right sheen can enhance the architectural details of your home, protect it from the elements, and even increase its market value. This guide will walk you through the various types of exterior paint finishes, their benefits, and how to choose the right one for your home.

Understanding Paint Sheen

Before we delve into the different types of paint finishes, it’s crucial to establish a fundamental understanding of what paint sheen is. Paint sheen, in its simplest terms, refers to the level of glossiness or shine in a paint finish. It’s the reflective quality of the paint surface that can dramatically alter both the aesthetic and functional aspects of your paint job.

The spectrum of paint sheen ranges from flat (or matte), which exhibits no shine, to high gloss, which is intensely shiny. This spectrum is not limited to these two extremes, however. In between, you’ll find a variety of sheen levels, including eggshell, satin, and semi-gloss, each offering a different degree of shine and serving different purposes.

The sheen of the paint can significantly impact the appearance of your space. A high gloss paint, for instance, can add a vibrant, sleek, and modern look to a room or exterior, reflecting light and making colors appear more vibrant. On the other hand, a flat or matte finish absorbs light, giving a more muted, sophisticated, and calming effect. The sheen can also highlight or downplay architectural details and surface imperfections. Glossier finishes tend to highlight details and imperfections, while less glossy finishes can help hide them.

Beyond aesthetics, the sheen you choose also affects the durability and maintenance of the painted surface. Generally, the glossier the paint, the more durable it is and the easier it is to clean. High gloss paints are highly resistant to moisture and dirt, making them an excellent choice for high-traffic areas or exteriors exposed to harsh weather conditions. They can be easily wiped clean, making maintenance a breeze. Conversely, flat or matte paints, while offering a unique aesthetic, are less resistant to moisture and stains and can be more challenging to clean.

In essence, understanding paint sheen is a vital step in the painting process. It’s not just about color; the sheen you choose can influence the mood, longevity, and maintenance level of your paint job. Therefore, it’s essential to consider both the aesthetic and practical implications when choosing the right sheen for your project.


Types of Exterior Paint Finishes

The right sheen for your home will depend on a variety of factors, including the condition of your home’s exterior, its architectural style, and your personal preferences. It’s always a good idea to consult with a paint professional or do a small test patch before making your final decision.





High Gloss:

Our Professional Color Consultant reviews some exterior paint samples with a local homeowner, advising them on their options.

Choosing the Right Sheen for Your Home

Selecting the perfect sheen for your home’s exterior is a decision that should be made with careful consideration. The sheen, or glossiness, of your paint can significantly impact the overall aesthetic and durability of your home’s exterior. The right sheen can enhance the architectural details, mask imperfections, and even contribute to the longevity of the paint job. Here are some key factors to consider when choosing the right sheen for your home:

1. Condition of Your Home’s Exterior: The physical state of your home’s exterior plays a crucial role in determining the appropriate sheen. If your home’s exterior has noticeable imperfections such as cracks, dents, or rough textures, a flat or matte finish can be an excellent choice. These finishes have no shine and can effectively camouflage these flaws due to their non-reflective nature. They absorb light, reducing the visibility of any surface inconsistencies. However, it’s worth noting that while they are great at hiding imperfections, flat or matte finishes are less durable and may require more frequent maintenance.

Conversely, if your home’s exterior is in good condition with minimal imperfections, you might want to consider a higher sheen like semi-gloss or high gloss. These finishes have a shiny appearance that can highlight the smoothness and well-maintained state of your exterior. They reflect light, enhancing the architectural details of your home. Additionally, higher sheen paints are more durable and easier to clean, making them a practical choice for homes in good condition.

2. Architectural Style: The architectural style of your home is another significant factor that can influence your choice of sheen. Different styles lend themselves to different finishes. For instance, a high gloss finish might complement a modern or contemporary home with its sleek and shiny appearance. This finish can accentuate the clean lines and minimalist aesthetic typical of modern architecture.

On the other hand, if your home leans towards a more traditional or rustic style, such as a cottage or a Craftsman, a lower sheen like flat, matte, or eggshell might be more suitable. These finishes offer a subtler, more understated look that can harmonize with the natural, earthy vibe of these architectural styles. They can enhance the homey and cozy feel, making the house seem more inviting.

3. Personal Preference: Last but not least, your personal preference should play a significant role in your choice of sheen. Your home is an expression of your personal style, and the sheen of your exterior paint is a part of that. If you prefer a more subtle, understated look, a lower sheen might be the best choice. These finishes offer a muted elegance that can make your home look sophisticated and tasteful.

Alternatively, if you want your home to stand out and make a bold statement, a higher sheen could be the way to go. The shiny finish can make your home look vibrant and eye-catching, reflecting your dynamic and bold personality. Remember, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to choosing a paint sheen. It’s all about finding the right balance that suits your home’s condition, aligns with its architectural style, and most importantly, reflects your personal taste.

Navigating HOA Rules and Paint Sheen

When it comes to painting your home’s exterior, especially in a community governed by a Homeowners Association (HOA), there’s another layer of consideration to add to your decision-making process: compliance with HOA rules and regulations. HOAs often have specific guidelines about the color and sheen of exterior paint to maintain a cohesive and pleasing neighborhood aesthetic. This section will guide you through understanding and navigating these rules as they pertain to paint sheen.

Understanding HOA Rules

HOAs are organizations in a subdivision, planned community, or condominium that make and enforce rules for the properties and their residents. These rules, often referred to as Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs), can dictate everything from lawn maintenance to exterior paint colors and sheens.

When it comes to paint sheen, HOAs typically aim for a uniform look throughout the community. This uniformity often leans towards more subtle, less reflective sheens such as flat, matte, or eggshell. These sheens tend to blend well with natural surroundings and are less likely to cause visual disruptions or glare that can come from glossier finishes. However, the specific rules can vary greatly from one HOA to another. Some might allow a range of sheens, while others may specify a particular sheen for all homes.

Navigating HOA Rules

Before you start selecting paint for your home’s exterior, it’s crucial to familiarize yourself with your HOA’s rules. These rules are usually provided when you move into the community, but if you’re unsure, reach out to your HOA board or management company for clarification.

Once you have a copy of the rules, look for the section that deals with exterior modifications or alterations. This section should provide information about acceptable paint colors and sheens. If the information isn’t clear, don’t hesitate to ask for clarification. It’s better to get all the information upfront than to face potential fines or the need to repaint later.

If your preferred sheen isn’t in line with the HOA’s rules, all hope is not lost. You can apply for a variance or exception, which is a request to deviate from the set rules. The process usually involves submitting a formal application detailing your request and reasoning. The HOA board will review your application and make a decision. Keep in mind, though, approval is not guaranteed.


Selecting the right sheen for your home’s exterior is a crucial step in the painting process. It can enhance the beauty of your home, protect it from the elements, and even increase its value. By understanding the different types of paint finishes and considering the condition of your home’s exterior, its architectural style, and your personal preference, you can choose the sheen that’s right for your home. Remember, the right sheen can make all the difference in achieving the look and durability you desire for your home’s exterior.