Satin Vs Gloss Paint – What Is The Actual Differences?

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With a full gloss paint finish still being a very popular option for painting your home, doors, trims, walls, and wood, we often see people reaching out to ask for advice on if they should be using gloss or another paint type. One of the more commonly requested comparisons that we have noticed from the community is for a dedicated satin vs gloss paint finish comparison article.

Due to seeing so many people asking a wide range of questions about satin and gloss paint with the differences often being confused, we have decided to publish this dedicated article on the subject. Our hope is that we will be able to help any of our readers who are looking to use satin or gloss paint and ensure that you are able to get the best end result possible.

At the time of writing, both satin and gloss paints are readily available both online and in home decor stores while also being around the same price. Due to this, all of our readers should easily be able to find their preferred paint without having to break the budget for their painting tasks.

Whats The Difference Between Satin And Gloss Paint?

The main difference between a satin and gloss paint finish is the sheen level from each paint type once dry. Gloss has a light reflective level of between 70%-90% where as sating has a light reflection level of between 26%-40% putting it directly in between gloss and matte.

Traditionally, a decent gloss paint was always more durable than a decent satin paint with it usually being able to take more wear and tear while also being easier to wash. That said though, the modern satin paint formulas have been improved over the years with satin paint usually being just as durable as a decent gloss paint.

In addition to that, both satin and gloss paint finishes tend to hide imperfections on your surface as well as each other. When it comes to hiding imperfections, neither sating or gloss are the best option though with both tending to perform just above average so keep that in mind too.

Is Gloss Or Satin Paint Better?

The term better is subjective and although gloss paint has been a dominant option for decades, sating paint has surged in popularity and is just as popular as gloss paint these days. This tends to be due to the lower light reflective levels of satin paint being more relaxing for most people as more and more people decorate their homes as a place to relax after a busy day.

The gloss finish is still popular when people want a bright finish that is able to reflect plenty of light. It tends to be more common than satin in locations with a neutral look that is mainly based around white or black colors. Depending on your preferences, some people will prefer to use gloss paint in rooms of their home that get more sunlight due to its higher reflective properties making the room look even brighter.

The main spike in the popularity of sating paint at the time of writing is in the pastel colors due to people using it in rooms where they like to relax. Although the majority of satin paint formulas is available in a wide range of colors, the pastel or lighter colors are definitely the most popular right now by a long shot.

Satin Vs Gloss Finish

As we touched on above, Gloss and satin paint finishes have a very different light reflective level with it being the main visual difference between the two paint types. As you can see in our breakdown of the reflective levels of different paints below, gloss has the highest reflective capability where as satin paint finishes ate toward the middle of the pack.

  • Full Gloss: 70–90%
  • Semi-Gloss: 41–69%
  • Satin: 26–40%
  • Sheen: 15–25%
  • Eggshell: 10–15%
  • Matte: <10%

This is the main thing that people tend to use to choose between using a gloss paint finish and a satin paint finish even though there are a few additional advantages. If you are considering using a satin paint finish due to its relaxing properties then you may want to consider using an Eggshell paint as it reflects even less light and looks very good in the pastel color ranges.

The Advantages Of Gloss Paint!

The main advantage of a gloss paint is that it reflects the highest possible amount of light of all paint types. This is the main selling point and the main reason that the gloss paint formulas were originally developed to help increase the levels of light in a room painting with a gloss finish.

If you are on a budget then the entry-level gloss paint products do tend to be cheaper than the entry-level satin paint products due to it being easier to make gloss paint. That said though, we usually recommend that our readers avoid using the entry level paints and try to stick to a decent gloss paint formula with a decent satin paint formula usually being a similar price.

The vast majority of gloss paint formulas also tend to be able to take more wear and tear than a satin paint making it easier to wash. Although modern satin paint formulas have been developed well over the years they are still not as robust as gloss at standard pricing levels. Although there are robust satin paint formulas on the market, they tend to be more expensive than a comparable gloss paint.

The Advantages Of Satin Paint!

The main advantage of satin paint is that it reflects between 26% and 40% of light that hits a surface painted with a paint that has a satin finish. This allows you to use it in a room that is overly bright due to getting too much sun light or to help reduce light to make a room more relaxing.

The majority of the decent satin paint formulas on the market these days are also better at hiding imperfections on the painted surface than gloss is too. Although this is partly sure to reflecting less light making the imperfections harder to see, it is also due to the actual ingredients in the paint doing a better job at masking any issues.

If you are into your pastel paints then they also tend to look better with a satin or Eggshell finish than a gloss or semi-gloss finish. As we touched on earlier in the article, pastel colors are becoming more and more popular for home decor with the popularity of satin and eggshell paint increasing accordingly.

The Disadvantages Of Gloss Paint

The main issues with gloss paint is also its main advantage, the amount of light that it reflects. If you are wanting to paint an area that gets a large amount of light then a satin, eggshell or matte paint may be a better option to prevent issues with there being too much light in the room.

On top of this, the large amount of reflected light from gloss paint also makes imperfections in the painted surface more obvious and easier to see. Any cracks, bumps or chips in the surface will stand out more with a gloss finish paint and easily catch the eye with lighter colors.

Although it is easy to avoid with a modern roller, gloss paint also tends to steak easier than stain paint, especially when applied by a beginner. Your paint layers have to be applied correctly with an even layer else even a high-quality gloss paint can start to streak on you.

The Disadvantages Of Satin Paint!

Although satin paint formulas are much better than they once were, we feel that their main disadvantage is that the regular prices satin paints are still not as robust as a gloss paint formula. If you have small children or pets that may result in you having to clean your painted surface on a regular basis then the satin paint tends to show the signs of wear and tear quickly.

As we touched on earlier, you are able to find robust satin paint formulas on the market but they can be as much as double the price of a regular satin paint. Although this does counter the disadvantage of satin paint usually being less robust, it introduces a new disadvantage of it being more expensive than gloss paint.

This next advantage is usually only in the entry-level, cheaper satin paints but their colors can start to fade in a short period of time. Again though, this is usually only with the cheaper satin paint formulas and tends not to be a major issue with the higher price point paint formulas.

What Is Gloss Paint Used For?

The majority of the modern gloss paint formulas are very moisture resistant and do well against moderate amounts of moisture making them slight better options than satin paint for use in kitchen or bathrooms. The naturally reflective look of gloss paint also makes it an ideal paint finish option for some furniture fittings in your home such as desks or bookshelves too.

Gloss paint finishes are popular in most locations in the home though if you are looking for that brighter look to your paint. It can also perform well on wood with there being plenty of gloss finish paint formulas that have been specifically designed for use on wood too.

This not only allows you to get a better look on any wood fittings such as doors or trims but the outdoor gloss finish formulas can look good on decking or sheds too. That said, Chalk paint is all the rage right now for outdoor use on wood with it usually being the preferred option.

What Is Satin Paint Used For?

Due to more and more of us leading increasingly busier life’s, the majority of the use cases for sating paint are based around trying to help you relax after a busy day at the office. Due to this, they are often used in the main rooms of your home such as the bed room, sitting room, and dining room to deliver their relaxing feel when needed.

In addition to this, satin paint is increasingly popular for rooms with large windows that face the sun for most of the day as it allows you to reduce the brightness of the room. A decent satin paint has proven to be a great middle ground between a gloss and matte finish to offer a nice blend of the two.

Although personal preference will come into play, more and more people are starting to use satin paints for their ceilings too as a way to take advantage of the blend between a matte and gloss finish. The lower reflective light rating of satin paint when compared to gloss usually offers a nice finish for the majority of ceilings no matter the color or design of the room.

How Does Gloss And Satin Paint Deal With Imperfections?

Satin paint finishes defiantly outperforms gloss paint finishes when it comes to hiding imperfections in the surface that you want to paint. Satin paint can drastically reduce the visibility of cracks, bumps, and dents in the surface you need to paint with the imperfection being much harder to see when compared to a surface painted with gloss paint.

As we touched on earlier, this is due to a gloss paint reflecting more light and making any imperfections on the surface obvious to the eye. The lower reflection rate of satin paint makes these imperfections much less obvious to the human eye so many people take advantage of this to hide problems with the surface that they are painting.

That said though, a common work around to prevent this is to put a layer of plaster or filler on the surface to smooth it out or fill any cracks and holes. This helps to level the playing field and give gloss the best possible surface to be painted on to prevent the imperfections from showing up at all.

Is Gloss And Satin Paint Washable?

Although both gloss and satin paints are washable, gloss paints do tend to be able to put up with more punishment without having any issues when compared to satin. This helps to score it points as it is often considered to be more washable than satin paint without the paint having issues.

This is why we usually recommend that our readers go with a gloss paint formula if they have children or pets to help reduce the chances of the paint fading, peeling or flaking due to being washed too much. As we have mentioned above, the satin paint formulas that are as robust and tough as gloss paint when it comes to washability can end up costing you double the price too.

That said though, the decent, modern satin paint formulas on the market do still tend to be washable to some degree. You can usually wash basic stains off them provided that you don’t apply too much pressure during the washing procedure too.

How Does Gloss And Satin Paint Perform On Walls?

Both gloss and satin paint tend to perform well when used on indoor walls making them very popular options for home decoration. They are easy to apply to walls without you running into any major issues and tend to be very beginner friendly during the application phase too.

In our opinion, satin paint tends to be a better option for this as it has less issues with streaking and can be applied with cheap tools. Satin paint also tends to usually be better than gloss paint when applied with a brush too, especially for beginners who can’t get used to keeping their brush stroke consistent.

That said though, a decent modern roller is usually only around $10 and can allow you to quickly and easily apply your gloss paint to your surface without having problems with steaks. Decent brushes tend to be between $10 and $20 offering you the same benefits but they do tend to take more time to actually apply to your surface with a brush.

How Does Gloss And Satin Paint Perform On Wood?

Satin and gloss paint finishes tend to be popular on both indoor and outdoor wood with being being able to perform very well. Just keep in mind that you will have to make sure that your paint formula has been specifically designed for indoor or outdoor use.

As we touched on earlier in the article though, Chalk paint really is seeing a huge spike in its popularity right now for outdoor use. This is why the majority of people tend to go with chalk paint rather than a gloss or satin style paint for any outdoor wood.

When it comes to indoor wood, you can usually go with either gloss or satin paint to match the rest of the room without issue. This will come down to personal preference though so you have to keep this in mind and some people choose to mix and match their satin and gloss paint with satin walls and gloss finish wood for example.


That brings our ultimate satin vs gloss comparison to an end and we hope that you have found it helpful. Our goal was to help you choose the perfect paint for you but due to both gloss and satin being pretty close to each other, you can go with your own personal preferences to meet your goals for the room.