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Mastering Exterior Paint Finishes for Scottsdale and Phoenix Homes

In the realm of house painting, there are myriad choices to make, from selecting the best paint brand and color to choosing the ideal brush for various surfaces. However, one often overlooked or left to the professionals is the choice of paint sheen. At Double G, we believe that the paint sheen choice holds equal importance alongside the brand and color. In this guide, we’ll offer our recommendations for choosing the perfect sheen for your exterior painting project in Scottsdale and Phoenix.

What Is Paint Sheen?

The term “paint sheen” refers to both the appearance and the performance of exterior paint.

In terms of appearance, homeowners are familiar with the shine, or lack thereof, exhibited by paint. High-gloss paint is mirror-like and reflects light, while flat or matte paint lacks shine and absorbs light. Between these extremes lie several other sheen levels.

A paint’s performance is also tied to its sheen. High-gloss paint is best suited for high-impact or wet areas, while paints on the dull end of the spectrum are less durable and tend to attract dirt. In essence, paint sheen is a balancing act between aesthetics and functionality.

Paint Sheen Determiners – Let’s Dive Deeper

The sheen of paint is determined by the ratio of resins, binders, and pigment levels within it. Paints with a high concentration of resins and binders result in a high-sheen, reflective surface, while those with higher pigment levels create a less reflective appearance. In general, glossier paints are more durable, while flatter paints are less resilient but provide better coverage.

Manufacturers may use different terms for their paints, but there are four common sheen levels to choose from: flat (matte), satin (sometimes called eggshell or low-luster), semi-gloss, and gloss (or high-gloss). The ratio of resins, binders, and pigments increases with each sheen level.

For larger exterior surfaces, glossier paints are often reserved for areas like windowsills and doors, as well as surfaces that may require frequent cleaning. Semi-gloss paint is typically the best choice for trim work, as high-gloss paints can accentuate imperfections.

For larger areas of the home covered by siding, less glossy paints are a better choice to avoid highlighting every bump and imperfection. In this case, your options are a flat (matte) finish or a satin/eggshell finish.

Flat or Matte Finish Paints

Flat paint offers a non-reflective finish that feels slightly chalky and rough to the touch.

It initially presents a velvety appearance and is an excellent choice for concealing imperfections. Flat paints give your exterior a contemporary and modern look. However, like their indoor counterparts, flat paints are challenging to clean, and they often require more frequent repainting.


  • Conceals lap marks well.
  • Provides a modern look when new.
  • Hides flaws in the siding surface.
  • Quick drying time.


  • Difficult to clean.
  • May become chalky due to weather.
  • May flake off or chip more easily than glossier paints.

Satin and Eggshell Finish Paints

Satin finishes have a low level of reflection, effectively concealing bumps and imperfections in the siding surface.

They maintain a slight chalky feel but with a touch of waxy smoothness. The same color will appear slightly richer in a satin sheen than in a flat sheen. Satin/eggshell finishes can be wiped down or even hosed with water, making them a more washable option. Their hint of shine provides a luxurious appearance compared to flat paints.


  • More washable than flat paints.
  • Longer-lasting finish.


  • Lap marks may be evident.
  • Sheen can be uneven if not mixed thoroughly. For the best results, have the paint thoroughly mixed at the store before painting, or mix several cans together.

Semi-Gloss and Gloss Finish Paints

Generally, higher gloss levels are reserved for trim and doors, which endure more wear and tear.

These glossier paints are more durable and better suited for surfaces that require frequent cleaning. However, their reflective shine emphasizes imperfections, making them a less desirable choice for large areas of siding.

Glossy paints are sometimes selected when homeowners want to make a bold design statement due to their ability to produce richer colors.

Exterior Paint Sheen Recommendations

As a general rule, satin or eggshell finish paint is the preferred choice for most exterior applications. It strikes a balance between maintenance and aesthetics that appeals to a wide range of homeowners.

However, various factors may influence your decision:

  • DIY vs. Professional: If you plan to paint your house yourself and lack confidence in your skills, flat finish paint is easier to apply without leaving lap marks. But for a skilled DIY enthusiast, both flat and satin paints are suitable. If you’re hiring a professional painter, choose the paint finish based on results, not ease of application. Professional painters are experts at applying all paint types and finishes.
  • Surface Texture: If your exterior has texture-related blemishes, flat paint can help hide defects.
  • Use and Climate: Consider your lifestyle and climate. Homes with active children, pets, or proximity to the ocean may benefit from highly durable, washable, and reflective sheens like satin or semi-gloss.

While paint sheen is just one piece of the puzzle in home painting, Double G can help you navigate the decision-making process. Contact us now for a free comprehensive estimate, and let us handle the painting, so you can focus on what you do best!



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