This is the Best Paint Sheen for Kitchen Walls and Cabinets

When it comes to choosing paint for your kitchen, the options can seem endless. From flat to high-gloss, how do you know which finish is right for your walls, cabinets, and trim? The key is understanding how paint sheen –the level of glossiness in the paint–impacts aesthetics, durability, and ease of cleaning. Keep reading as we break down the unique properties of different sheens to reveal the best paint finishes for kitchen surfaces.

Overview of Paint Sheen Levels

Before deciding on sheen, it helps to understand the options. From least to most reflective, common paint finishes include:

  • Flat – No reflective quality, opaque finish great at hiding imperfections
  • Eggshell – Slight sheen, resists yellowing and stains
  • Satin – Low-to-medium lustre, scrubbable and durable
  • Semi-Gloss – Very shiny, resists moisture, stains and washing
  • High-Gloss – Extremely lustrous mirrored shine

The more gloss in the paint finish, the more durable, stain-resistant, and scrubbable it will be. However, higher sheen paints also accentuate surface flaws.

Sheen Characteristics to Consider

As you evaluate paint sheens, be mindful of how finish impacts:

  • Reflectivity : The shinier the sheen, the more it will magnify and reflect light. This can enhance visibility but may also call attention to imperfections.
  • Durability : Higher gloss paints better withstand scrubbing and frequent cleaning over lower sheen options.
  • Washability : A more lustrous finish allows you to easily wipe away messes with water and mild cleanser.
  • Hiding imperfections : Flatter, matte finishes disguise flaws best by scattering light. Glossier paint reflects more light off defects.

Factors in Choosing Kitchen Paint Sheen

Consider where and how the surface will be utilized when deciding on the best kitchen paint finish. Key criteria include:

what paint sheen for kitchen
  • Traffic : High-traffic areas prone to bumps and scrapes warrant durable glossy paints like satin or semi-gloss. Less used zones like accent walls can get by with flat or eggshell.
  • Moisture and splatters : The wall space around stoves and sinks confronts moisture daily; this area will need washable sheens like satin or semi-gloss.
  • Surface prep : Skipping proper sanding, cleaning, and priming leads to adhesion failures between paint and walls/cabinets.
  • Desired look : Do you want bold colors to pop or soft muted shades? Any desired aesthetic can work but guide sheen selection.
  • Lighting : The direction and intensity of light impacts how shiny the finish appears. Ability to control lighting factors into sheen decisions.

By evaluating kitchen conditions, traffic patterns and usage you can zero in on suitable durable paint options.

Best Kitchen Wall Paint Sheens

Kitchen walls must withstand cooking splatters, steam, cleaning chemicals and grease vapors. The optimal wall paint finish holds up to regular washing without wearing down over time. But walls also need to cloak flaws, uneven textures, prior paint and repairs.

Eggshell Paint


  • Withstands light washing
  • Resists yellowing from kitchen grease and grime
  • Soft velvety appearance hides minor imperfections


  • Less stain resistant than glossier finishes
  • Frequent scrubbing can diminish the finish over time

Brand Recommendations: Behr Eggshell, Sherwin Williams ProClassic Waterbased Eggshell

Satin Paint


  • Withstands moderate washing
  • Resists stains better than flat and eggshell paints
  • Provides subtle sheen that makes rooms feel brighter


  • Not as durable as semi-gloss finish
  • Darker colors show some scratches and marks

Brand Recommendations: Benjamin Moore Satin Impervo, PPG Diamond 350 Satin

Best Kitchen Cabinet Paint Sheens

Kitchen cabinets confront an onslaught of splattering oils, sauces and heat on a daily basis. The cabinet paint finish must stand up to bumps, gouges and repeated scrubbing without wearing away. But excess sheen presents its own challenges attracting dust and illuminating flaws. What’s the middle ground offering durability and easy cleaning without being too shiny?

Semi-Gloss Paint


  • Highly washable and stain-resistant
  • Resists marring, grease and condensation
  • Enhances decorative details


  • Reflective surface accentuates imperfections
  • Visible brush strokes if painting technique is imperfect

Brand Recommendations: Pittsburgh Paints Speedhide Zero Semi-Gloss, Sherwin Williams ProClassic Waterbased Semi-Gloss

High-Gloss Paint


  • Extremely durable, moisture resistant surface
  • The most stain-proof and scrubbable finish
  • Enhances contrast and color depth


  • Mirror-like shine magnifies surface flaws
  • Can feel too “plastic-y” for some tastes
  • Reflective surface shows imperfect brush work

Brand Recommendations: Rustoleum Cabinet Transformations High Gloss, Behr Premium Plus High Gloss Enamel

Application Tips by Sheen

While sheen plays a pivotal role, proper paint application ensures it lasts. Follow these best practices during your kitchen paint project.

Surface Prep

Walls: Fill cracks and holes with spackle, then sand. Wash with trisodium phosphate (TSP) and rinse to remove grease and soap.

Cabinets: Clean, lightly sand, then remove dust. Fill holes/gouges with wood filler and sand smooth when dry.


Tint your primer close to the final paint color with universal colorant. This improves hiding power so the paint’s true color shows through better.


Angled sash brushes simplify cutting in edges. Use high-quality synthetic roller covers for smoothest finish on walls and cabinets.

Paint Coats

Flat paint touches up easily with one coat. For richer colors and more durable finishes, apply two thin coats instead of one thick one.

Visual Comparisons of Different Sheens

Seeing how light reflects differently off various paint sheens helps illustrate the aesthetic impacts:

Insert photos of same kitchen painted in flat, eggshell, satin and semi-gloss sheens. Point out differences in light reflection, shadows and surface uniformity.

When selecting the best kitchen paint sheen, consider your priorities. Do you want to hide or highlight decorative details? How resistant must the finish be to stains, moisture and heavy washing?

For kitchen walls, a soft subtle sheen like eggshell or satin proves ideal. These finishes withstand moderate scrubbing while concealing flaws.

For cabinets, doors and trim opt for the impenetrable protection of semi-gloss or high gloss paint . Their slick surfaces repel messes, moisture and grease easily. However, skip high-gloss finish on large expanses like walls where the mirror-like surface looks too bold.

Prep properly, apply two coats, allow full curing time and clean gently using the proper techniques. With this approach, your kitchen paint should maintain its newly refreshed look for years of beauty ahead!

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