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What Sheen of Paint to Use in Bathroom

Elton Dunn

The wrong sheen of paint in a bathroom can absorb dirt and moisture from the shower or bath, leading to mildew problems down the line. There are many sheens of paint that stand up well to the high traffic and humidity found in your bathroom, so choose a low- or high-gloss finish to suit your taste.

The right sheen stands up to frequent cleaning.


Semigloss paint reflects light, making your bathroom shiny. Unlike a gloss sheen, semigloss does not show imperfections, so you can use it on blemished walls. This sheen of paint has long lasting power, meaning you won't have to repaint. It stands up well to moisture, making it an ideal sheen to use in moisture-prone bathrooms. Use this paint either for bathroom walls, bathroom cabinetry or both.


Gloss offers many of the same qualities as semigloss but with more sheen. Gloss shows any imperfection in a room, so should only be used on bathrooms that have no blemishes or marks. Glossy paint comes clean easy and has natural moisture resistance. Use glossy paint for your bathroom walls, or incorporate it into bathroom trim or molding.


If you don't want shiny bathroom walls, choose a satin sheen, which has low gloss but offers many of the same advantages as the semigloss. Like semigloss, satin can withstand the amount of moisture produced in the bathroom. Satin paint also withstands dirt, mildew and stains, and can handle repeated cleaning. If you want a low gloss paint, this one works best for bathrooms.


Primer helps paint go on smoothly and can help neutralize the walls if you're transitioning from one color to a different color. If you don't prime walls, some areas may soak up more paint than others for a blotchy effect in the finish. Use a primer with your bathroom paint, no matter what sheen you choose, to have a smoother finished product.