Satin vs. Gloss Finish: What’s the Difference?

by Charlie
Satin vs. Gloss Finish

When deciding on what paint to use on your decoration project, it can often be a difficult task considering there are numerous types of paints, each with its own finish, available on the market. One common question is, is there a huge difference between a satin and a gloss finish? 

The most noticeable difference between a gloss and satin finish is the paints sheen; satin leaves behind a matte-like finish with hints of luster, whereas a gloss finish will be shiny and reflective. There are numerous other minor differences, such as the durability of the paint and how well it can hide imperfections on a surface. 

This article will discuss the differences between a satin and a gloss paint finish. We have everything you need to know about the differences between a paint finish of satin and gloss. 

Satin vs. Gloss: The Significant Difference

When it comes down to choosing a new paint for your interior or exterior project, one of the significant decisions you must make is what kind of finish you want your paint to have. Two of the most popular finishes are satin and gloss, but what are the significant differences between them?

The primary difference between gloss and satin paints is the sheen of the finish, which is sometimes referred to as luster in the painting world. Gloss will have a much higher sheen when compared to satin, resulting in a shiny or reflective finish. 

On the other hand, satin typically has a finish that is closer to a matte finish, giving off a velvet look, but will still have a minuscule amount of luster. However, there’s a few other smaller differences between these two specific kinds of paints. 

Another typical way in which paints are compared is by the paints overall ability to hide dents and imperfections in the painted surface. While neither satin nor gloss is particularly good at doing so, a gloss finish will reflect more light. Thus, it will highlight more flaws that remain on a finished surface compared to the satin finish. 

The third primary comparison is which is more durable, gloss or satin. Typically gloss paint is a much more durable and will leave a much tougher texture on the painted surface. However, a well-prepped gloss finish will be less durable than a well-prepped surface with a satin finish.

A Satin Finish

When using satin paint, you’ll end up with a finish that is considered a medium gloss. This means it won’t be a matte finish, as it reflects a small amount of light, but you won’t be left with a reflective or shiny finish. 

Some people may even call satin a finish that falls between a dull and shiny finish, making it a finish that is great for hiding various imperfections on all surfaces. Satin is undoubtedly more durable than matte paints and is an excellent mid-sheen paint. 

Satin is a versatile paint that may look slightly different in various environments. Under low and medium levels of light, it will have a smooth or velvet-like finish, whereas under higher levels of light, it can have a lot more shine or luster. 

The Benefits of Satin Paint

When using satin paint, you’ll typically end up with a smooth surface and one which does not have the sticky quality you may find with various other finishes. 

They are seen as an excellent choice for those who are after a durable finish and can stand the test of time without succumbing to severe problems such as wear and tear. On top of this, a finished satin surface is easy to clean and only requires mild cleaning products; this won’t cause any damage.

Another significant benefit of working with satin is it can hide mild imperfections in the painted surface. As it doesn’t reflect much of the light that comes into the home in the same way as gloss, dents and minor scratches are much less noticeable.  

Some painters would go as far as to argue that satin paints provide an accurate color representation when compared to gloss finishes. Once again, this has to do with their reflection of light, as a bit of reflection will not significantly change the color of the paint.

A Gloss Finish

When using gloss paint, you’ll end up with a finish that holds a high shine. It typically looks impressive and professional and is considered hard-wearing. Gloss finishes reflect a lot of light, which is why you end up with a high luster finish or one that seems exceptionally reflective and shiny. 

Gloss is seen as a solid and durable paint that leaves any surface with a long-lasting finish. As gloss can reflect a lot of light and bounce it around the room, often leaving us with the impression one that the room is larger than it is. 

Gloss paint comes in varying levels of sheen, so it’s best to ensure you have chosen the correct one for your project. It offers an elegant yet durable finish but should always be applied to a well prepped surface to provide a high quality finish. 

The Benefits of Using Gloss

There are numerous benefits to using gloss paint, and you’ll typically end up with a very durable finish that can stand the test of time. Gloss paints are resistant to staining, moisture resistant, and are even easier to clean than satin paints.  

A gloss finish that’s completed to a high standard can help brighten up dull spaces thanks to its reflective properties; this will help lighten up darker rooms and corners. It can also enhance the color and give it a vivid appearance. 

Gloss will resist water, dirt, and contaminants, and this strong and durable finish is well protected even in places where there is a high level of human traffic. It is resistant to scrapes, nicks, dents, and moving items such as furniture and any pets.

Where to Use a Satin Paint?

Satin paint is an excellent choice for areas that receive many people, anywhere that is a high-touch surface, including furniture. It’s typically seen as a perfect choice for all kinds of woodwork including doors, door frames, and trim around the house. 

If you use satin on doors, it’s going to be much easier to wipe down than various other finishes, making it an excellent choice as doors tend to get a lot of hand and finger marks. For anyone trying to avoid shiny and reflective doors throughout the home, satin is the best choice for wooden doors. 

It’s usually used in the bedrooms, and living rooms as a highly reflective paint can often be too dominating in these particular areas. Kids’ rooms are another great option, as the paint can withstand the regular cleaning due to its high durability. 

Satin can be used in areas with high humidity levels, such as bathrooms or wet rooms. This is one of the best examples of using satin paint on walls, as this will reduce the risk of a mold or mildew infestation. 

Where to Use a Gloss Paint?

As gloss paints have a reflective and shiny finish, they are typically used on front doors, door frames, trims around the home, and moldings; but can work equally well on stools and small tables. 

As high gloss paints are tougher and stand up much better to abuse than flat eggshells and even satin paints, you may opt to use a gloss in places where family and friends gather. This could be anywhere from doors throughout the house to your kitchen table, banisters, and even your bathroom. 

Gloss is also an excellent choice for exterior projects and can really help when it comes to weatherproofing any kind of surface. This could be the windowsills, garden furniture, patio railings, and even your garden shed. As it has a high resistance to water, gloss is typically one of the best outdoor paints. 

The Cons of a Satin Finish

As much as satin is often considered one of the best finishes you can adhesive, especially for those who seek a medium finish on prepped surfaces. However, there are a few cons to this specific finish of the paint, which we will mention below. 

While satin is an excellent choice for hiding mild imperfections on various surfaces, it can be a poor choice for walls and other surfaces that have numerous imperfections. In this case, it’s probably better to stick to a flat or matte finish to hide most of the larger dents. 

It can also be a tricky finish to touch up because of the way it dries out. So, if you try to add a little paint to a spot that you’ve either filled and sanded or marked up, it usually stands out visually instead of blending into the surface. 

Satin paint can also be an expensive product; thus, if you’re trying to keep the costs of a refurbishment down, you’ll want to stick to the more economical options. 

The Cons of Gloss Finishes

While gloss paints definitely have their numerous advantages, the major con of using this particular finish is that it highlights any medium-sized imperfection due. Usually, even the smaller imperfections will be highlighted after the light begins to hit the newly painted surface. 

So, if you decide to use a gloss finish, you’ll need to ensure that the prep work is done to an extremely high standard, making sure that the surface is free from dents and completely smooth. 

High gloss finishes can also be distracting when used in some of the larger areas of the home that receive an adequate amount of light. This wouldn’t be the best choice in a place where the furniture or walls are supposed to be the main attraction. 

One final problem you may notice when using a gloss finish is that the paint is very reflective; this can alter the color on the surface, making it appear warmer or cooler based on the level of lighting in the room. Thus, you may never end up with the correct shade of the color that you wanted.

What to Go For: Satin or Gloss?

So, now that we have gone over the numerous differences between satin paint and gloss paints, such as the overall sheen the paint will leave behind once it has dried; gloss will leave a much shiner finish than satin, yet satin will have more of a luster than matte paints and leave you with a soft and velvet finish.

Typically, when comparing gloss against satin, you’re looking at two paints that are on either end of the reflective spectrum. Depending on your project and what design you are going for, both of these finishes can add style and class to the finished project. 

If you want the light to bounce around the room and lighten up all the darker corners, then a gloss is exactly what you’re looking for. Whereas if you want a more natural and soft finish, one in which the eye is not attracted to the reflective and shiny properties of gloss, but instead focused on the room, then a satin will help blend everything together beautifully. 

When it comes to durability and protection of finished surfaces, both of these paints hold their own. Gloss generally offers a higher level of protection and durability when compared to satin, yet, satin protects a finished surface much better than various other paints. 

If you want an authentic and natural color, satin is probably the paint you’ll opt for, as due to its highly reflective properties, gloss can alter the color of the finish depending on the amount of light that’s coming into the room.

So, with all things considered, both of these finishes, satin, and gloss, are two of the best on the market and can certainly be implemented into projects around the home. Depending on the preference of the homeowner, they each have their strengths and weaknesses and can certainly bring life back to a rundown space. 

Final Thoughts

So, now that you know all about the differences between gloss and satin paints, you’re ready to decide for yourself which one you will use on your next DIY project. Just remember to compare paints beforehand and have a plan of what you’d like to achieve, and the paint will do the rest. 

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