Satin vs Gloss

If you’re repainting woodwork, metal or a piece of furniture, you’re probably faced with a difficult decision regarding the type of paint finish you’re going to use. There are many options to choose from, and quite some debate surrounding the matter, especially when choosing between satin and gloss finishes.

However, with the right information, and by understanding each finish’s characteristics, you can make the right decision. So, how should you choose between the two, and which one is best for different purposes? Let’s talk about satin vs gloss!

What is the Difference Between Satin and Gloss Paints?

The biggest difference between a satin and gloss finish is its sheen. Gloss finishes are more reflective, while satin finishes are more matt, though they do still have a touch of shine. However, other fundamental differences separate the two.

What is a Satin Finish?

A satin finish gives off a small amount of sheen – it isn’t entirely matt, though not completely reflective either. It reflects a small amount of light, barely enough to be noticed. You can find satin finishes in:

  • Satin paints
  • Satin clear coats
  • Satin spray paints
  • Satin stains
  • Satin varnishes
  • Satin sealants
  • Satin furniture wax

A satin finish will give you a medium amount of shine and is good at hiding imperfections compared to a more glossy finish. Satin finishes are a good compromise if you don’t want to go for matt but still want a somewhat toned-down result.

What is a Gloss Finish?

A gloss finish is the shiniest option you can choose to paint any surface with. It will give the surface a slick and shimmering appearance because it reflects a huge amount of light. You’ll be able to find:

  • Gloss finish paints
  • Gloss finish clear coats
  • Gloss finish spray paints
  • Gloss finish stains
  • Gloss finish varnishes
  • Gloss finish sealants

If you’re looking for a high-shine finish, you should go with a gloss paint finish. Gloss finishes can be easier to clean and can look great on doors, trim, and metals for maximum impact of the high-sheen look.

What is the Difference Between Satin and Semi-Gloss?

Telling satin and semi-gloss finishes apart can be tricky, even though they will inevitably produce different results once applied and dry. Let’s talk about some of their differences, so you can know which to choose.

  • Semi-gloss carries more sheen than satin
  • Semi-gloss’s sheen might modify how the paint colour you chose looks on the surface you’ve painted
  • Semi-gloss is slightly more durable and easier to clean
  • Semi-gloss draws attention to architectural elements more than satin
  • Satin will hide imperfections better than semi-gloss
  • Satin is very slightly less expensive.

Satin vs Gloss: Which Is Better Overall for Wood Finishes?

Now you know the characteristics of both types of finishes, let’s talk about what’s best for painting wood.

When to Use Satin

Bedrooms and dining rooms, especially when using dark colours. Hallways and living rooms are also great with satin finishes because it offers the right amount of light to be able to brighten up a space. Satin finishes are reputably perfect for skirting boards, because they give a clean and crisp look to them, and are easy to maintain and clean. Pick satin for your internal doors and banisters for a sleek, elegant look.

When to Use Gloss

Cabinets and bathroom surfaces, because gloss is great for surfaces that may be exposed to water. They are also good for front doors, garage doors, shutters, and any kind of exterior woodwork that faces outside because they are weather resistant. Lastly, use gloss finishes on your window sills for an easy clean!

high gloss door
A front door painted in high gloss.

The answer to Satin vs Gloss is, it depends. Each finish creates a different look. It’s best to consider what type of surface you’re painting, and what colour. Just pick the right option for you!