Choosing the right paint color can make or break your project. Even if you know what paint color you want, the shade and eggshell paint sheen options vary greatly.
Satin and semi gloss paint finishes are two of the most popular choices because they have some of the luminosity of a glossy paint finish and some of the rich pigmentation of flat paints.
Learn about the differences between the two options and determine which one is better for your project in this satin vs semi gloss paint finish comparison guide.
There are a few important things to consider in the satin vs semi gloss paint debate. First, satin paint is closer to flat paint than to full-gloss, while the opposite is true for semi-gloss paint.
That means satin paint has less of a space-limiting effect and is easier to apply, while semi-gloss is more damage and moisture-resistant.
Here are some recommendations for deciding whether satin and semi gloss paint is best for your project, depending on which room of the house you're painting:
For Walls & Ceilings
For Wooden Furniture
Floors & Baseboards
What Exactly Is Satin Paint? (Pros & Cons)
Satin paint has more binder in it than flat paints does. Binder creates a smoother surface for the matte finish paint, while more pigments create an uneven surface. More light bounces off even surfaces in fewer directions which is what gives satin paint finish the extra gloss.
Oil-based and water-based paints can both come with a satin finish. Typically, it has between ⅓ and ½ the reflectivity of a full gloss paint. The idea is to give the same feeling of luminosity without giving your walls and furniture the near-reflective treatment you’d find on a car.
When you coat a surface with satin paint or matte paint, it will reveal scratches and impressions in the surface but not as much as glossier paints do. Matte paint can also handle moisture quite well, making it ideal for painting bathrooms and kitchens.
Satin paint is subtle shine but not overwhelmingly so. More light does reflect off of it but not glaringly like it will with high-gloss paint. It works on siding, aluminum, drywall, and wood surfaces.
Homeowners use satin paint in bedrooms and common rooms because it's easier to clean than a flat paint, but it's also harder to apply because you have to maintain a uniform paint sheen.
What Is Semi-Gloss Paint? (Pros & Cons)
Semi-gloss paint is usually about half as glossy as high-gloss paint but can be as much as 75% as glossy finish. Because of this, every advantage and disadvantage of high gloss compared to satin paints is exacerbated.
For instance, semi-gloss paint will show all the imperfections in the paint and the surface you're painting. Also, more binders give semi-gloss paint enough paint sheen for some reflection to be visible in the paint, especially in rooms with lots of direct natural light.
The pigment makes up less of the formula in a semi-gloss paint which means the final color on the finished paint job can be less pronounced than it would be with flat or satin paint.
However, the luminosity is more collected - semi-gloss paint is usually the best choice for homeowners who want to see some light reflected in their walls.
This gloss level is why most contractors and homeowners use semi-gloss paint to cover large areas like walls and doors, particularly when dark rooms need lightening with a light-shade color.
You can also use it for trim, molding, and cabinets. Semi-gloss is great for high-traffic areas because it doesn’t take damage as easily as flat paint.
Extra Information On satin and semi gloss Paints
Satin Vs Semi Gloss Paint FAQs
Should all interior doors be satin or semi-gloss?
The best choice for interior doors is semi-gloss paint. It can take more kicks, scrapes, and bumps without showing any damage. Doors with a semi gloss finish will be easier to clean.
Can I paint satin over gloss or not?
Yes, you can paint satin over gloss or semi-gloss paint as long as you either de-gloss the original paint, sand it down, or use a satin paint with the same base as what was used before.
Is semi-gloss paint waterproof?
Not all semi gloss paints are waterproof. They are generally very water-resistant by nature. It is best not to assume that the semi-gloss paint you’ve selected is waterproof unless the label says so beyond the shadow of a doubt.
How do you tell if paint is gloss or semi-gloss?
You can tell if paint is gloss or semi gloss just by how light reflects off of it. The semi gloss reflects light, but still diffuse it somewhat compared with the full-gloss paint, which will reflect light almost straight back at its source, creating a kind of reflection on the wall.
Hopefully, this guide has helped you figure out where you stand in the whole satin finish vs semi gloss finish debate. Each one has advantages over the other in certain situations. Don’t be surprised if you wind up using a bit of both on your next DIY painting project.
Although semi-gloss paint finish is more moisture and stain resistant resistant and easier to clean, satin paint finish diffuses natural light better and tends to make a space feel roomier.
Trim and other accents really pop with semi gloss finishes on them, while ceilings and wooden furniture frequently look better with satin finishes. Read through this guide to help you decide which paint finish to use on your next project.