When it comes to painting the walls in your bathroom, choosing the right paint sheen is crucial. The constant moisture from showers and baths means you need a finish that can stand up to humidity without succumbing to ugly mildew growth. At the same time, you want a look that is attractive and complements your bathroom’s design.
With so many paint sheen options out there – from flat and eggshell to satin and semi-gloss – it can be confusing to know which one is best suited for bathroom walls. But have no fear, we’ve done the research to determine what paint sheen provides the ideal balance of beauty, durability, and mold resistance for bathrooms.
Popular Bathroom Wall Paint Finishes
Before we reveal the best bathroom paint sheen, let’s review the characteristics of the most common wall paint finishes:
Flat paint, also called matte paint, has a completely non-reflective, matte appearance. While it minimizes surface imperfections nicely, it’s a poor choice for bathrooms.
Flat paint absorbs moisture, humidity, and condensation easily, making it very prone to mold and mildew growth. It also shows every bit of dirt, grime, and cleaning marks. The porous flat finish makes it hard to scrub or wash, so stains have a tendency to linger.
In general, flat paint looks dull very quickly in damp bathroom environments. The lack of reflective qualities causes it lose its color vibrancy faster than other sheens.
Slightly more lustrous than flat, eggshell paint has an attractive soft, velvety appearance. It hides minor imperfections better than flat.
However, eggshell’s moisture resistance is still rather insufficient for humid, steamy bathrooms. It’s also not durable or scrubbable enough for cleaning sticky soap scum buildup and dirt on walls.
While it has a bit more sheen than flat, eggshell doesn’t disguise flaws in drywall or plaster nearly as well as higher sheen options.
With its subtle, pearl-like sheen, satin paint offers a very smooth reflective finish. It handles humidity far better than flat or eggshell paint.
The velvety surface of satin paint does an excellent job camouflaging imperfections in bathroom drywall or plaster. It also stands up well to the frequent cleaning and scrubbing that bathroom walls often require.
Most major paint brands now offer satin finishes containing mildew-resistant additives or antimicrobial additives that further combat mold and mildew growth.
In general, satin paint is adept at maintaining its attractive luster and color richness in the hot, steamy conditions of bathrooms.
Semi-gloss paint provides a very shiny, reflective surface, more so than satin. It offers excellent moisture resistance.
However, the nearly glossy shine makes it show water spots, soap scum, and other dirt much more noticeably. Semi-gloss also is not ideal for disguising flaws in walls.
Finally, semi-gloss has a bold, slick look that’s simply too shiny for most people’s bathroom wall preferences.
Satin Paint: The Best Bathroom Wall Sheen
After comparing the pros and cons of various bathroom paint sheen options, satin paint emerges as the clear winner.
Satin offers the ideal compromise between the durability and moisture resistance of glossier sheens and the attractive, subtle pearlescence of flat and eggshell finishes.
Unlike flat paint, satin reflects light nicely to resist looking dingy or dreary in humid bathroom environments. The velvety sheen hides imperfections in walls beautifully while still allowing colors to appear rich and vibrant.
And unlike shiny semi-gloss, satin has an understated elegance that works wonderfully to complement most bathrooms’ aesthetics and decor.
Tips for Applying Satin Paint in Bathrooms
While satin may be the best sheen for bathroom walls, you need to take care in preparing surfaces and applying it correctly:
- Thoroughly clean walls and repair any flaws or damage spots
- Use a high-quality primer suited for bathrooms
- Consider adding an antimicrobial additive to your paint
- Opt for a satin finish made specifically for high-humidity
- Allow for adequate drying time in damp bathrooms
Proper prep work and using the right application materials and techniques will help you achieve long-lasting, beautiful results from satin paint.
We hope this breakdown of the best bathroom wall sheen provides the clarity needed to avoid disappointment from choosing the wrong paint finish.
While flat and eggshell paint may look nice in other parts of your home, their moisture and cleaning limitations make them a poor match for humid, wet bathrooms.
On the other hand, semi-gloss is simply too boldly shiny for most bathrooms’ style and ambiance.
With its subtle pearlescence, flaw-hiding abilities, and durability, satin paint checks all the right boxes. Follow our tips to end up with bathroom walls that really wow!
So for picture-perfect bathroom walls that maintain their beauty despite high humidity and frequent scrubbing, be sure to choose a satin paint finish . We hope this look at the best bathroom wall sheen takes the guesswork out of picking the right paint for your next remodel or touch-up project.