Fremont, Seattle exterior painting

Exterior Paint Sheens

In Exterior Painting, Homeowner Tips by Lindsey Mueller4 Comments

In one of our earlier blogs, we discussed interior paint sheens and tips on where they are best applied. In today’s edition, we’ll discuss exterior paint sheens! Like interior paints, exterior paints are available in a variety of sheens. The tips below will help you choose the best sheen for your exterior surfaces.

A Fremont exterior painted with Flat paint on the body and Low Lustre paint on the trim

A Fremont exterior painted with Benjamin Moore’s MoorLife Flat on the body and Benjamin Moore’s MoorGard Low Lustre on the trim.


Like its interior counterpart, flat exterior paint is appropriate on more blemished/uneven surfaces, as its low sheen conceals imperfections. This is why we tend to use flat exterior paints on older homes, especially those with cedar siding, as it tends to be a rougher surface. While a high-quality flat paint is still durable and washable, it is not as easy to clean as its higher-sheen counterparts. It also will not stand up quite as well to abrasion. All in all, flat is still a great choice for the exterior body/siding of a house.

Low Lustre/Satin

This sheen, known as Low Lustre in most of the Benjamin Moore product lines, or Satin in Sherwin Williams lines, is our most commonly used exterior paint sheen. We often use this sheen for the main body/siding of a house or building exterior. This sheen provides a soft finish that will look great on siding in good condition. Without being too shiny, it is also ideal for surfaces that must be cleaned occasionally.

Semi-Gloss/Gloss and High-Gloss

Gloss sheens require skillful application. Even as professional painters, we seldom use gloss paint on exteriors due to its tendency to amplify imperfections on the surface. However, glossier sheens are more washable, resisting dirt and cleaning up much more easily. A gloss sheen may be the perfect choice on accents like shutters and doors where added shine is a benefit. And the shiniest of all, High-Gloss provides the richest colors and highest level of washability. But as you may have guessed, it magnifies surface imperfections more than any other paint.

What about Stain?

Stain products also come in varying sheens as described above. They also come in different opacities, such as Clear, Semi-Transparent, and Solid. A clear or translucent finish will allow the natural beauty of the wood to display as much as possible. Semi-Transparent is a great option to add some subtle color or darkness. Solid stain is a great option when the highest level of coverage is needed. Solid stain offers the most in terms of masking imperfections, and like paint, can be tinted virtually any color.

One advantage of hiring a professional painting contractor like Sound Painting Solutions is expert advice on the appropriate sheens and product lines for your project. Contact us today for a free quote on your interior and exterior painting project!


  1. We are a small town suburb painters and we get this question a lot. Thank you for posting this important information.

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