The Ultimate Satin Vs Matte Paint Comparison!

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With each month that passes, we see more and more people reaching out about the differences in the finish for different paint types. Although we have already covered a number of the questions going over the various paint types, we have noticed more and more people specifically asking for a satin vs matte paint finish comparison.

Due to seeing so many people reaching out about the differences between the finish for a satin or a matte paint, we have decided to publish this dedicated article going over the subject. Our hope is that we will be able to help any of our readers who are thinking of using satin or matte paint choose the best option for their needs.

Although we will go into more detail on this later in the article, both paints have a light reflectancy range and depending on where the specific paint formula you use falls in this range, you may get slightly different results. That said though, the majority of people will be able to expect the same results that we will explain throughout the article for each paint type.

What’s The Difference Between Satin And Matte Paint?

The main difference between satin and matte paint is that satin paint reflects between 26%-40% of light where as matte paint reflects <10% of light. This can totally change the feel of a room painting with either paint drastically changing the atmosphere.

Although matte paint was a dominant choice for home decoration for decades, it has fallen out of favour recently. Although matte paint does still have its place, many people seem to think that the lack of reflected light in the room makes a room feel depressing.

This has led to the surge in the popularity of both satin paint and eggshell paint for home decoration. Both satin paint and eggshell are dull finishes that help to create a relaxing atmosphere while also reflecting more light than matte paint helping to avoid that slightly depressing feel.

Is Satin Or Matte Paint Better?

Both satin and matte paint have their place in the market and the better option for you will depend on you needs and your vision for the room you are painting. That said, a satin paint finish is the more popular option right now and it is constantly growing in its popularity.

That said though, just because the current trend is to decorate your home with a satin paint does not mean that matte paint will always be out of style. These trends seem to change every three to five years and we do expect matte paint to keep a large user base while satin has its day in the spot light.

One thing to factor in is that we are leading busier and busier life’s these days though and many people choose a satin paint finish due to it being relaxing. Many consider it to reflect enough light to avoid a depressing feeling while not reflecting so much as to cause eye fatigue after a busy day. This leads us to think that satin will be one of the dominant paint choices for decades to come.

Satin Vs Matte Finish!

Many beginners fail to realise that there is a whole range of paints with different light reflectancy brackets ranging from full gloss with up to 90% of light reflected down to matte with less than 10% of light reflected. We have the full breakdown below to try and help our readers I understand the different properties for the various paints:-

  • Full Gloss: 70–90%
  • Semi-Gloss: 41–69%
  • Satin: 26–40%
  • Sheen: 16–25%
  • Eggshell: 11–15%
  • Matte: 5-10%
  • Flat: 0-4%

As you can see, there is a sheen finish and an eggshell finish between satin and matte on the table but a sheen finish tends to be unpopular where as an eggshell paint is about as popular as satin paint right now. With the increase in the popularity of satin and eggshell finishes, the popularity of matte and gloss have both declined over the years.

Although eggshell does have a lower reflectancy rating of satin paint, they are both used for the same use case of creating a relaxing atmosphere. As people work harder and harder with busier and busier life’s it makes sense that the popularity of the more relaxing paint finishes will only increase as time goes on.

The Advantages Of Satin Paint!

The main advantage of satin paint over matte paint is that it offers a wider range of reflective light. You can do with a dull satin paint at the lower end of its range or a bright satin paint at the higher end of its range to get two totally different effects. This offers more versatility in what you are able to do with your paint and create the feeling that you want.

This increased versatility increases the chances of you being able to bring the whole room together with a similar look to the other items in the room such as furniture and accessories too. Although some people don’t care about the overall look of their room, more and more people do want the overall feel of the room to match up.

Satin paint also reflects enough light for it to avoid that depressing feel that a room painted with matte paint can offer. This is one of the main reasons that the current surge in the popularity of satin paint seems unstoppable.

The Advantages Of Matte Paint!

The main advantage of a matte paint is that it is extremely good at hiding imperfections in the painted surface due to reflecting so little light. This makes it the ideal option for paining surfaces with bumps, cracks, or dents in it as it will not draw the eye to them.

Although satin paint is not too bad at hiding imperfections, especially a dull satin finish, it is nowhere near as good as matte paint. Unless you specifically know that there is a bump in a wall and intentionally draw your eye to it to look for it then it is unlikely that you will see it.

This helps for people who like to keep their home as presentable as possible for people guests and it can make a wall full of imperfections look flawless. The best part is that even a cheap matte paint tends to be great at hiding imperfections helping to keep your costs as low as possible.

The Disadvantages Of Satin Paint!

The main disadvantage of satin paint is the color range that it is available in. Due to the majority of the customer demand for satin paint finishes being for a relaxing room feel, the majority of paint brands focus on light and pastel colors. This makes it hard to find brighter colors with a satin finish that may lead to issues if you don’t want light colors.

Another potential disadvantage of satin paint is that it is not as washable as some of the other paint types. If you are in a household with young children or pets and know you will need to wash your surfaces on a regular basis then there is a good chance the satin paint finish will start to have issues early on.

Although we classed this as an advantage above, the versatility offered by the light reflectancy range of satin paint can also be a disadvantage. A large number of people think that all satin paint is the same so will not check if they are buying dull or satin paint and often end up with a slight mismatch so always check the label prior to purchase.

The Disadvantages Of Matte Paint!

As we have touched on a few times in the article, the main disadvantage of matte paint has to be that it can feel a little depressing and glooming to be sat in a matte room due to so little light being reflected. With mental health issues on the rise, more and more people are going with eggshell and satin finishes as they are still relaxing but have a little more light than matte paint.

Matte paint tends to be even less durable than satin paint too making it a pain to wash on a regular basis. You can purchase more robust matte paint formulas but they tend to pump the price right up to a level where it is easier to just go with a semi gloss or gloss paint finish to keep your costs low and get a robust paint.

This leads us onto the next disadvantage of matte paint in that it can only be realistically used in a small number of situations due to it being relatively flimsy. If you do have children or small pets or any other reason to wash your walls on a regular basis then a matte paint is not for you.

What Is Satin Paint Used For?

Satin paint is a very popular option for sitting rooms, dining rooms, and bedrooms as well as when used for walls, doors, trims, and furniture. It helps to bring an overall relaxing vibe to a room and help you de-stress after a busy day of work.

Although you can technically use satin paint in an area with high moisture such as your kitchen or bathroom, it tends to perform poorly due to it not doing well with moisture. You are able to use a sealant over the layer of paint to prevent this but this can push the costs of your home decorating right up.

The majority of indoor satin paint formulas are also multi purpose meaning that you are able to use them on pretty much any surface be it a wall or wood. You can get some specific formulas for wood that are useful for some items such as a book case but many people will be fine with the regular satin paint.

What Is Matte Paint Used For?

The main use for matte paint in modern home decor is to hide imperfections in the surface that you are painting. It is one of the best options available for hiding imperfections and can make a rough wall look very smooth in most lighting.

Although some people do still use a matte paint to decorate their rooms that they like to relax in, satin and eggshell paints tend to be more popular right now. This will depend on your own personal preference though and you are able to use matte paint if you really want to.

The weaker formula of matte paint will play a large roll in where you can and can’t use it though as it is usually not suitable for high trafficked areas. Constant washing of most matte paint formulas will quickly result in flaking and cracking leading to additional issues later in the process.

How Does Satin And Matte Paint Deal With Imperfections?

Although matte paint is the better option when looking to hide imperfections, satin paint is not as bad as many people think. Satin paint does tend to perform better than semi gloss or full gloss but worse than a matte paint when it comes to imperfections.

If you are looking to paint a surface that has particular issues with imperfections such as cracks, bumps, and dents then matte paint is definitely the better option for you. The less light it reflects draws less attention to the imperfections and helps to hide them and prevent the eye from being drawn to them.

That said though, the dull satin paints in the 26%-34% light reflecting range also usually have this benefit too. This allows you to use a dull satin paint on your surfaces with imperfections and hide them relatively well but it is not as good as a matte paint and certain lights may still draw the eye to them.

Is Satin And Matte Paint Washable?

Neither satin or matte paint are particularly washable with semi gloss or full gloss usually being a better option. Satin is more washable than matte and both have specific robust paint formulas available that cost more money but make them more washable.

If you are dead set on using satin or matte then a satin paint is the better option for washability but even then its not great. There are a number of paint sealants on the market that you could use to protect it but they tend to be expensive for what you actually get.

In our opinion, a matte paint should be totally avoided in areas of your home with high traffic as it is too weak to be washed on a regular basis. This will result in a number of issues with the paint that we covered earlier in the article.

How Does Satin And Matte Paint Perform On Walls?

Both satin and matte paint performs very well on walls with both paint finishes very being popular options. Satin tends to be a better option for a relaxing vibe while matte tends to be the best option to hide imperfections in the surface.

Personal preference will come into play for this one though and many people will hot swap between the various options as required. Some people will even have the walls in their rooms with one finish and the furniture with another, it totally depends on you.

Both matte and satin paint are also very easy to apply to a surface too making them great options for beginners. You can apply either option to your walls using a brush or a roller too helping to make it even easier as rollers are usually quicker and easier than a brush.

How Does Satin And Matte Paint Perform On Wood?

Satin and matte paint finishes both work well on wood inside and outside of the home. If you are wanting to use either paint finish on some wood that is outside then be sure to get a paint formula that has been designed for use outdoors.

That said though, at the time of writing, chalk paint is a very popular option for use on wood outdoors but this is probably just a temporary trend. We do expect the popularity of both satin and matte paint finishes on outdoor wooden surfaces to increase again in the near future.

When it comes to indoor use, you are able to use a satin or matte paint on a wood surface and get great results. There are a number of dual purpose paint formulas on the market that will work for both walls and wood but the formulas designed specifically for wood do tend to be the best options.


That brings our article going over our ultimate satin vs matte paint finish comparison to an end. Our goal was to help our readers to get to grips with the advantages and disadvantages offered by both paint finishes to help you choose the ideal paint for you needs.

Although matte paints popularity has faded in recent years, it does still have its place. That said though, satin paint just keeps on growing in popularity none stop for the reasons covered throughout the article and it will probably be the optimal choice for most of our readers.