Exterior Paint Sheens

I’m happy to report that the exterior painting begins today (Nov. 8)! At 6:00 AM the painter called to ask if I wanted satin or flat on my exterior. I froze. I had no idea what exterior paint sheen I wanted.

So, I told him to hang on a minute and I’d call him back. I immediately started researching exterior paint sheens. (Not my house in the photo below!)

Exterior Paint Sheens - A white farmhouse

I’ve been documenting the building process and this is the last photo I took of the house before the exterior painting begins.

Satin or Flat?

I found out one thing. Half of the articles I read said to definitely use a satin sheen. The other half said definitely go with flat. It’s a house divided. šŸ™‚

I called my son-in-law for his opinion because I didn’t want to wake my husband. He had stayed up really late the night before. He uses satin most of the time.

I finally woke my husband and we made the decision to go with flat paint.

Then I called my painter one more time and quizzed him on all the things concerning exterior paint sheens.

He had a large crew that was at the Sherwin Williams store waiting for them to open to buy the paint. And I was being indecisive.

My painter (the very best in this area according to all the trades I asked!) said that years ago most builders used satin on the exterior. But today, more builders are using flat exterior paint.

When painting the exterior, the two most popular sheens are flat or satin.

Flat Exterior Paint Sheen

Flat paint hides imperfections. Of course, I haven’t seen any on the exterior but I’m sure there are a few.

According to my research, flat paints are popular because they roll on smooth and provide a velvety finish that conceals flaws. Its non-reflective surface provides a deep, rich finish.

Satin Exterior Paint Sheen

Satin finishes have more of a sheen. However, it doesn’t look shiny. This finish reflects light and really makes the color pop.

However, satin finishes aren’t as good as hiding imperfections or flaws. This sheen doesn’t go on as smooth and improper brush strokes or sloppy work will show through a satin sheen.

During my research, I learned that a satin finish is easier to clean than a flat sheen. When I voiced my concerns to my painter, he told me that he hadn’t seen that to be the case at all.

No matter what sheen I pick, I know I will need to gently pressure wash/clean at least once a year.

In the end, we went with flat and I’ll update this post when the exterior has been painted.

I’ll also update you in the future and let you know how easy/difficult it is to keep clean. At least we have brick on the bottom so that should keep the painted part relatively clean. I hope.

Update On Exterior Paint Sheens

We have now been in our house for a year and four months and I have to say the exterior paint looks as good as it did the day it was painted. We haven’t even had to powerwash yet.

Helpful Hint: The exterior paint is Sherwin Williams Pure White. For me, it’s the perfect white. I love it so much that I used it on the interior as well. It’s actually a soft white that doesn’t pull yellow or blue.

Originally, I was going with Alabaster but when I taped large swatches to the exterior of my house, it pulled yellow.


A few of my favorite things!


Alli loves her southern, country lifestyle. Whether she's decorating her new modern farmhouse or cooking up a storm for her family, Alli is all about living her best life now and spoiling her grandkids! She enjoys traveling, reading, Duke basketball, photography, and all things coastal. Alli wants to be a beach bum when she grows up.

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4 thoughts on “Exterior Paint Sheens”

  1. Hey! It is June 2023, and I’m having the same “flat or eggshell?” quandary as you were having when you wrote this blog article! Since it’s been a year and a half since then, would you still go with flat if you had to choose again? Thanks!

    1. No! My painter said it was “scrubbable” but it is not. Painters use flat to hide flaws and I do love the way the finish looks but if I had to do it over, I’d go with satin or eggshell for the walls.