What Sheen is Best for Exterior Paint? Find Out Here

After finally deciding on your exterior paint color, it’s time to determine what sheen will work best on your home. But with so many options out there, it can be overwhelming to pick the right one. Gloss, satin, flat, oh my! Fear not, as we’re here to break down the best sheen options for your exterior paint job.

When it comes to exterior paint, a semi-gloss sheen is the most popular choice. This finish offers a sleek and shiny appearance that accentuates your home’s architectural details. Not only does it look great, but semi-gloss also provides excellent water resistance, making it a top choice for high-moisture areas. However, if you have an older home with lots of imperfections, a glossier sheen can highlight those blemishes, so make sure to have your exterior prepped and primed correctly before application.

If you’re looking for a more subtle sheen, a satin finish may be the way to go. This versatile sheen falls somewhere between a gloss and flat finish, offering a low-reflective appearance. Satin is commonly used for homes with wood siding, as it provides excellent coverage and a smooth finish. Plus, it offers an easy-to-clean surface, making it perfect for areas that tend to get dirty or accumulate grime. No matter which sheen you choose, make sure to select a high-quality paint and proper application technique for long-lasting and beautiful results.

Different types of exterior paint sheen

When it comes to choosing the best exterior paint for your home, knowing the different types of sheen available will help you make the right decision. Sheen refers to the glossiness or shininess of the paint finish, and each type offers its own unique benefits. The main types of exterior paint sheen include:

  • Flat: Flat or matte sheen is the least shiny finish available and is best suited for covering up imperfections on the surface. It is also great for older homes with a lot of texture on their exterior surfaces.
  • Eggshell: Eggshell sheen has a slight gloss and produces a soft, velvety finish. This sheen is perfect for use in places with high foot traffic as it’s easier to clean than a flat finish. It’s also an excellent choice for darker colors and siding with moderate flaws.
  • Satin: Satin finish has an understated sheen that gives a smooth finish while hiding minor imperfections. It’s a popular choice for wood or metal siding as it’s more durable and easier to clean than flat paint, yet it still offers a subtle shine.
  • Semi-gloss: Semi-gloss has a higher sheen and is more reflective than the previous finishes. This makes it a great choice for trim, doors, and shutters as it accentuates the details and creates a beautiful contrast with the surrounding surfaces. It’s also more moisture-resistant and sheds dirt more easily than satin or eggshell finishes.
  • High-gloss: High-gloss is the shiniest paint finish you can choose, and it creates a glass-like reflection that is perfect for front doors or other exterior accents. It’s also highly durable and can resist chipping and fading for extended periods.

Glossy Sheen Options

When it comes to exterior paint, choosing the right sheen is just as important as selecting the color. Glossy sheens can be a great option for exteriors as they protect your home and add a sleek finish. Here are some of the top glossy sheen options:

  • High Gloss: This is the shiniest and most reflective sheen option available, making it ideal for doors, trim, and shutters. It also provides the most durable finish, making it resistant to fading, chipping, and peeling. However, high gloss tends to show imperfections and blemishes more easily, so it may not be the best choice for rough or uneven surfaces.
  • Semi-Gloss: This sheen strikes a balance between shine and durability, making it a versatile choice for both trim and siding. It is easy to clean, making it great for areas prone to dirt and grime buildup. It also provides a soft, reflective sheen without showing imperfections as easily as high gloss.
  • Gloss: Falling between high gloss and semi-gloss, gloss sheen provides a subtle shine while still being easy to clean. It is a great choice for surfaces with fewer variations or imperfections, such as smooth siding or stucco. Gloss sheen also provides good durability and resists fading, making it a great option for areas exposed to the elements.

Before selecting a high-gloss sheen, be sure to consider the condition of your exterior surfaces and consult with a professional for expert guidance. While glossy sheens can provide an exceptional finish, they may not be the best fit for every home or project.

Matte Sheen Options

When it comes to exterior paint, there are many sheen options available to choose from. One popular option is the matte sheen, which is known for its ability to hide imperfections on the surface being painted.

  • Flat: This is the truest form of matte sheen, with no shine whatsoever. While it’s great at hiding imperfections, it’s not the most durable option out there. It’s best used on surfaces that are unlikely to be touched or bumped into.
  • Eggshell: This sheen offers a slight amount of shine, while still retaining some of the matte qualities that make it great for hiding imperfections. It’s more durable than flat, making it a good option for areas that will see some wear and tear.
  • Low-Lustre: This sheen offers more shine than eggshell, but still has a matte look overall. It’s the most durable of the matte sheen options, making it a smart choice for exterior surfaces that will face regular exposure to weather and other harsh elements.

When choosing a matte sheen option for your exterior paint job, it’s important to consider the surface that you’re painting, as well as the level of durability that you’ll need in order to ensure long-lasting results.

It’s worth noting that while matte sheen options are great for hiding imperfections, they do tend to be more difficult to clean than their glossier counterparts. This is something to keep in mind if you’re painting an exterior surface that will require frequent cleaning.

Sheen LevelDurabilityAppearance
FlatLowNo shine
EggshellMediumSlight shine
Low-LustreHighMatte look with some shine

Ultimately, the choice of matte sheen option will depend on the specific needs of your project, as well as your personal preferences in terms of appearance and durability.

Satin Sheen Options

If you’re considering using a satin sheen for your exterior paint, there are a few options to consider. Satin sheen is a popular choice for its balance of durability and smooth, non-glossy finish. Here are some top options:

  • Benjamin Moore Regal Select Exterior High Build Paint: This paint provides superior protection against mildew, fading, and stains. Its high build formula also means you’ll get great coverage in fewer coats, saving you both time and money.
  • Behr Marquee Exterior Satin Enamel: This paint boasts a one-coat coverage guarantee, meaning you won’t have to spend time applying multiple coats. Its formula is also highly resistant to fading, cracking, and peeling, making it ideal for harsh outdoor conditions.
  • Sherwin-Williams SuperPaint Exterior Acrylic Latex: This paint is a favorite among professionals for its versatility and durability. Its specially formulated acrylic resin provides excellent adhesion and resistance to fading, chalking, and peeling.

When choosing a satin sheen paint, it’s important to consider factors such as climate and weather conditions, as well as the desired color and finish. You’ll also want to ensure you properly prep your surfaces to ensure optimal adhesion and longevity of your paint job.

Semi-gloss sheen options

When it comes to choosing a sheen for exterior paint, semi-gloss is a popular option due to its durability and resistance to moisture. Semi-gloss finish is shiny, reflective and can give your home a modern look. Here are some of the best Semi-gloss sheen options:

  • Acrylic Semi-gloss: This type of paint is water-based and has better adhesion, breathability, and durability than other options. It is also easy to clean, making it ideal for high-traffic areas.
  • Oil-based Semi-gloss: Oil-based semi-gloss paint is more durable and resistant to the elements than other options. It is popular for painting doors, trim, and shutters because it provides a smooth, even finish.
  • Hybrid Semi-gloss: Hybrid semi-gloss paint combines the best benefits of acrylic and oil-based paints, providing both durability and ease-of-use. It is also resistant to cracking and fading, making it a great option for areas prone to extreme weather conditions.

However, when choosing a semi-gloss sheen, it is important to consider the surface to be painted, the type of substrate, and the environment. For example, if you are painting a new surface, acrylic-based paint should be used as it is more elastic and can withstand expansion and contraction, preventing the paint from cracking and peeling. On the other hand, oil-based paint is easier to apply over existing paint compositions.

Below is a table summarizing each semi-gloss option:

Acrylic Semi-glossWater-resistant, easy to clean, elastic, and durableDries fast and may require more than one coat
Oil-based Semi-glossDurable, provides a smooth and even finish, and resistant to weather elementsDries slower, high volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and difficult to clean
Hybrid Semi-glossDurable, easy to apply, resistant to cracking and fading, and less VOCsExpensive compared to other options

When it comes to outdoor painting, using the right semi-gloss sheen is important in achieving long-lasting and desirable results. Choose a sheen that works best for your surface materials, weather conditions, and preferred look for your home.

Factors to Consider When Selecting an Exterior Paint Sheen

Selecting the right exterior paint sheen is crucial for the overall look and longevity of your project. The sheen you choose will influence the appearance, durability, and cleaning requirements of the paint, so it’s essential to consider the following factors before making your decision:

  • Exposure to elements: Consider the amount of sun, wind, and water your exterior will be exposed to. Higher sheen paints generally offer greater durability and resistance to weathering, which is ideal for homes in harsh climates. In contrast, lower sheen paints may be more suitable for areas with less exposure to the elements.
  • Surface type: Different exterior surfaces require different sheen levels to achieve the desired finish. For instance, high-gloss paints work best on smooth, nonporous surfaces like doors and trim, while flat or matted sheens are ideal for uneven surfaces such as stucco or brick.
  • Maintenance: Consider your willingness to maintain your paint job. Highly glossy paints tend to show dirt, stains, and imperfections easily and may require frequent cleaning.

Choosing the Right Sheen Level

There are several levels of paint sheen to choose from, each with their unique characteristics:

Sheen LevelDescription
Flat/matteThe flattest sheen, which hides surface imperfections but is less resistant to weathering and cleaning.
EggshellProvides a slight sheen and is more durable and washable than flat/matte sheens.
SatinA popular exterior paint sheen level that offers a higher level of sheen and durability, making it ideal for areas with moderate wind and rain exposure.
Semi-glossA highly reflective sheen that is durable and easy to clean, making it ideal for high-traffic or heavily used areas.
GlossA mirror-like finish with a high degree of durability and resistance to weathering, making it ideal for areas with intense exposure to the elements.


Choosing the right sheen level is a critical factor in achieving the desired appearance and durability of your exterior paint job. Consider your needs, maintenance requirements, exposure to elements, and surface type before selecting a sheen. By taking the time to assess these factors and selecting the right paint sheen, your project will look great and withstand the test of time.

How to Properly Prepare Surfaces for Exterior Paint Application

One of the essential steps in achieving a successful exterior paint job is to prepare the surfaces properly. Without proper preparation, the paint will not adhere correctly, and the finished result may look unprofessional or even peel off quickly.

Here are seven key steps to properly prepare surfaces for exterior paint application:

  • Clean the surface: Before applying paint, the surface must be clean. Start by removing any dirt, dust, and debris from the surface. Scrub the surface with a stiff brush and a cleaning solution, then rinse thoroughly and let dry.
  • Scrape and sand: For any loose or peeling paint, scrape the affected areas down to the bare surface, and sand the edges until they are smooth. Feather out the edges so that there are no bumps or ridges.
  • Repair any damage: Repair any holes, cracks, or other damage to the surface. Use a suitable filler, and make sure it is completely dry before sanding down any high spots.
  • Prime: Apply a primer coat to the surface. This will help with adhesion and create a smooth surface for the paint to adhere to. Use a primer matched to the type of surface and the type of paint being used.
  • Masking: Mask off any areas that you don’t want to paint. This includes trimming, doors, windows, and any other surface that should not receive paint.
  • Protect plants and outdoor furniture: Cover or move plants and outdoor furniture away from the painted area. This prevents paint splatters on them.
  • Apply painter’s tape: Finally, consider applying painter’s tape around any edges or trim, and particularly on areas where you intend to cut in around windows and doors. This will help with clean lines and prevent mistakes.


Proper surface preparation is a crucial step in every exterior painting project. It may seem tedious, but a little effort spent will save you time, money, and headaches in the long term. Your paint will look better, and last longer. By properly preparing the surfaces, you are laying the foundation for great results.

Frequently Asked Questions about the Best Sheen for Exterior Paint

1. What sheen is the most durable for exterior paint?

The most durable sheen for exterior paint is a semi-gloss or high-gloss finish. These sheens are more resistant to harsh weather conditions, fading, and staining.

2. What sheen is the best for hiding imperfections?

If you want to hide imperfections on your exterior surfaces, a flat finish will be the best choice. Flat finishes do not reflect as much light, so they don’t highlight any bumps or cracks.

3. Will a high-gloss finish make my exterior look too shiny?

A high-gloss finish will definitely make your exterior look shiny, which some people might not prefer. However, if your main priority is durability, a high-gloss finish is worth considering.

4. Is satin finish good for exterior paint?

Yes! Satin finish is a popular choice for exterior paint because it has a subtle sheen that is less shiny than semi-gloss or high-gloss finishes, but more reflective than a flat finish.

5. Can I mix different sheens for my exterior paint job?

It is possible to mix different sheens for your exterior paint job, but it is not recommended. Different sheens don’t always look consistent next to each other, and it can be hard to achieve a cohesive look.

6. Will a glossy finish make my exterior surfaces warm up faster?

Yes, it is true that a glossy finish can make your exterior surfaces warm up faster in the sunlight. If you live in a hot climate, you might want to opt for a less reflective sheen.

7. How do I know which sheen is best for my exterior surfaces?

The best sheen for your exterior surfaces will depend on several factors, including the type of material, condition of the surface, desired look, and weather conditions. It’s always best to consult with a professional to ensure you make the right choice.

Closing Thoughts: Thanks for Reading!

We hope that this article has answered your questions about what sheen is best for exterior paint. Remember that the right sheen will depend on several factors, so it’s important to do your research and consult with a professional before making a final decision. Thanks for reading, and we hope to see you back here soon!