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Understanding gloss levels

Interiors – from Latitude magazine

Resene Colour Consultant Honor Moore demystifies sheen levels – because when it comes to buying the perfect paint for your project, it’s not just about the colour!

Gloss levels

Living room in Resene Quill Grey and Resene Quarter White Pointer, with Resene SpaceCote Flat on the ceiling and Resene SpaceCote Low Sheen on the walls. The trim and joinery feature Resene Lustacryl.


When it comes to paint, sheen is defined as the glossiness of the finish. At either end of the spectrum you can have a shiny (gloss) finish or a flat (matte) finish, and then various levels in between. The sheen, or gloss level of your paint is often determined by where, or what you are painting.

It’s normal to use different sheen levels in different areas, particularly if your home is painted the same colour throughout, as varying the sheen level surface-to-surface helps accentuate different areas. A mix of gloss levels within one area is a popular way to create a subtle visual effect or highlight feature areas.

You can also use colour and sheen to create an illusion. Colour can highlight the good features of a room or camouflage defects, while different sheen levels help change how the colour is viewed.

Resene SpaceCote Flat is a good choice for ceilings as it diffuses light and conceals surface imperfections, absorbing light and adding more depth and warmth. It also brings out the moodiness in dark colours and works well in master bedrooms. Resene SpaceCote Low Sheen is perfect for interior walls where a slight sheen is desired but good cleaning properties are necessary. A low sheen is still the most popular choice for interior walls, softening the intensity of a colour.

High gloss finishes such as Resene Enamacryl or Resene Super Gloss appear cleaner and more intense and really bring a colourful front door to life. A semi-gloss finish, such as Resene Lustacryl, is ideal for doors and windows, creating a subtle point of difference between surfaces. A semi-gloss finish is also a great way to highlight crisp white architraves or skirting boards.

For even more protection and durability try overcoating your favourite feature wall or areas of high traffic with Resene SpaceCote Clear, a low sheen clear which is designed to bring enamel-style toughness to broadwall areas, allowing you to get low sheen without sacrificing durability.


Resene Colour Consultant Honor Moore is passionate about the difference colour and paint can make to a home. If you have a paint, colour or wallpaper query, visit your Resene ColorShop for expert advice, or book an appointment with a Resene Colour Expert online.

Photography – Bryce Carleton. June 2019

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