Satin vs Gloss: Which One is the Winner?

While you are painting or using lipstick, you may get the term satin vs. gloss. Satin stands for flat, matte color, while gloss refers to extra shine color. This is the primary difference between these two finishes satin and gloss.

The finish or the result of using paint can be reflective. It can reflect too much to attract the eyes or too dimmed to see as a bold or dark-colored surface. When it reflects light heavily, it appears as a glossy finish. Satin finish reflects least or never.

Satin vs Gloss: Which One is the Winner?

I am here to explain everything on the debate of differences, superiority, benefits of these two finishes. It is crucial when you are doing repaint, refinish, or re-varnish any painting objects.

Satin vs. Gloss in Short:

The primary difference is the sheen of the paint. It refers to the glossiness of any material. Thus, you can measure it with the ratio of binder and color pigments of that material. Binder works to stick the paint to a painting object, while pigments create the color we see. Excessive binders in the paint make it glossy, where satin has the least quantity of binders. Another distinction is the endurance and ability to cure the flaws.

Satin vs. Gloss Comparison Chart

Smooth, polished
Glaze, extra shine
Binders & Pigments ratio
Binders & Pigments ratio
Less binders compared to ratio
More binders compared to ratio
Less, or faded
Light reflection
Light reflection
No or least
Full or most
Suitable for
Suitable for
Heavy traffic area
Open or less crowded spaces
Longevity after cleaning
Longevity after cleaning
Better after harsh clean up
May fade after harsh clean up
Hiding flaws
Hiding flaws
Color Accuracy
Color Accuracy
Preferable for
Preferable for
Indoor applications
Outdoor applications
Prep time
Prep time
A bit more
Touch up
Touch up
Challenging, brush strokes become visible
Highlights old marks vigorously
It lasts a long time (may reduce for adverse weather)
High endurance
Dulls the color
Makes color attractive
Light effect
Light effect
It looks like the same color
May feel changed

Doubt may come to mind – why should I bother about satin and gloss? Yes, it is not a bothering question for any painting job. Even your favorite person loves to put on glossy or matte (satin) lipsticks.

Read the full article to find out the differences:

Definition of Satin

What is a Satin Finish

I am suggesting you pick colors according to your preferences and best suited to the painting surface. But a glossy touch of paint can reveal the cracks, fades, stains better than satin. But, of course, satin paint or finish offers the slightest sheen so that you can mask the imperfections.

Satin products reflect light fewer and have the least binders comparing to the number of pigments. Some grains of color go naked to the exterior side. It helps to scatter the light on the surface, which causes a less glossy look. Besides, you can get a better smooth, silky feeling while touching it.

It does not fade quickly even after regular clean-up. When you use satin paint, polyurethane or varnish, the surface can fight vigorously against mold and mildews. Usually, satin paints are suitable for sidings, shutters, trims, and many more.

Most experts use satin items to paint the interior rooms, hallways, interior furniture. The reason is to hide the flaws, pleasing the eyes, and getting better smooth surfaces. Anyway, most satin paints have different ingredients like water, Texanol, Nitrosol, ammonia, etc.

Types of Satin Products:

There are many satin finish products available at the market. Each of them is specially designed for specific applications. You can use them for repainting, refinishing, or giving new finish projects.

Usually, these are the examples of satin finish product types available at the market: Satin finish paint, Clearcoat, Spray paint, Varnish, Sealants, Wax, and many more.

Types of Satin Finish

Satin Benefits

  • Easy to clean with mild cleansers.
  • Smooth feeling, no or most minor stickiness on the painted surface.
  • Durable in nature so less chances of wear and tear off.
  • Hiding the defects, dents, or marks on the surface slightly.
  • More accurate color when you use the satin products.
  • Requires less prep time and labor for painting.

Satin Minuses

  • Not fully hides flaws compared to gloss.
  • Challenging to touch up; brush strokes are visible.
  • It makes spots visible while adding more paints.
  • Uneven applications may welcome troubles.

Is Satin Paint Shiny?

Satin paints or finishes have stunning velvety luster. They are not much lustrous as semi-gloss products. You may find the result flat and glossy both after using satin products. It depends on the place you used, the lighting of that place.

Satin paints have more sheen than eggshell paints. Overall, satin is more reflective with an enhanced lifespan. Semi-gloss and gloss paints are indeed shinier than satin products.

Where to Use Satin Paint?

Satin Paint

Satin paints provide extra protection in heavy traffic, large areas. However, places like living or master bedrooms are preferable to apply the satin products as too many reflections may appear too irresistible.

If you arrange rooms for kids, satin paints and finishes would be a good choice. After applying them, you can keep the room clean regularly without fear of damaging surfaces. Again, you can choose satin paints for hallways and kitchens. These high-traffic areas get dirty frequently so that you need to clean daily. Satin can protect these places after everyday cleaning.

Definition of Semi-Gloss

Semi-gloss is like the mediator between gloss and satin; not so shiny nor so flat. Semi-gloss paint has a slightly higher sheen than satin paint. Also, it resists more moisture than other finishes so that it appears more suitable for kitchens, bathrooms.

What is a Semi-Gloss Finish

Semi-gloss paint is not super reflective like gloss paints. But it can bounce light off the surface at a certain degree that you can notice the paint. Again, semi-gloss products are not too overwhelming nor too engaging. It will remain the same even in the larger area.

You can pick this product for trimming and molding, especially when you add eggshell or satin finishes with it. However, you may need more coats to hide the blemishes on the walls.

Types of Semi-Gloss Products

Like the sating products, you can find many semi-gloss products from the stores. You can pick them for painting, sealing, and renovation of different surfaces.

Here are some forms of semi-gloss finish products types available at the market: Semi-gloss finish paint, Semigloss clear Coat, Semi-gloss spray Paint, Semi-gloss stains, Semi-gloss varnish, Semi-gloss sealants, Semi-gloss Furniture Wax.

Types of Semi-Gloss Finish

Semi-gloss Benefits

  • More durable than satin paints or finish products
  • Withstands serious scrubbing very well
  • Builds resistance against moisture on the painted surface
  • Suitable choice for spaces with more humidity
  • Slightly brighter surface while hides all the flaws
  • Not more or less shiny; suitable for kitchens and bathrooms

The Drawbacks of Semi-gloss Finish

  • May highlight some imperfections requiring more coats
  • Uneven sheen may make the surface feel like irregularly painted one
  • Not recommended for a place with a lot of lights or windows
  • Not heavy-duty product to last long

Where to Use Semi-Gloss Paint?

Semi-gloss Paint

As you can see, there are a lot of advantages to using semi-gloss items in painting. This paint prevents the damages of moisture and makes the layer durable. Also, you can scrub the surface without the fear that the paint will fade. So, the quality is no-compromising and long-lasting.

You can use semi-gloss paints on high-touch furniture, walls where light is moderate. Most experts suggest applying them in kitchens, laundry rooms, and bathrooms. Additionally, you can pick this painting option for molding and trim. I would love to paint my reading room with semi-gloss paints.

Definition of Gloss

What is a Gloss Finish

In easy words, gloss is the opposite of satin. So, naturally, it refers to the high level of sheen available in paints, finishes, and similar products. You may see painted stuff shining a lot; consider that it is painted with gloss paint. Even, you may start appreciating the color.

Painting a surface with gloss finish reflects light in every direction. So, the surface looks more attractive than satin paints. Mostly, gloss or glossy paints are applicable in exterior and interior projects. Earlier, these paints were made from oils. But the lead in oils let the manufacturers use water-based technology.

Binders in gloss products are more in ratio with pigments than satin ones. As a result, the finish looks like a mirror on the surface. A formula of vegetable oil such as linseed oil, organic acid, and alcohol produce alkyd resin. This resin is the type of binder used in gloss paints, varnish, finishes etc.

There is also another type of gloss, less shiny than gloss but more than satin. It is known as semi-gloss, a combination of qualities of gloss and satin. The percentage of sheen in gloss is 70-90, whereas semi-gloss has 35-70. A gloss product usually has 54% alkyd resin, 25% pigments, 17% solvent, and 4% additives.

Types of Gloss Products:

Gloss paints and relevant painting products are widely used in residential and commercial areas. From increasing beauty to attracting the viewers with sheen, gloss paints have no alternatives.

Here is one thing you should keep in your mind. Furniture waxes are not applicable for getting a high-gloss result. But you can buff and polish it to gain a certain sheen level.

Same manufacturer may produce gloss and satin paints together. When you search the market, you can purchase these gloss product types: Gloss finish paint, Gloss spray paint, Gloss clear coat, Gloss sealants, Gloss varnishes, and others.

Types of Gloss Finish

Advantages of Gloss

  • Increases the beauty and reflects the color under minimum light.
  • Highly durable and easily cleanable painted surface.
  • Stain and moisture-resistant qualities prevent damages on the surface.
  • It brightens the shadowy or dark objects and makes them attractive.
  • Renovate and regain the new look of an object.
  • A newbie or DIYer can easily use this paint.

Gloss Drawbacks

  • Tiny imperfections may get highlighted with gloss products.
  • Needs extra prep time and labor for smooth finish.
  • Makes large spaces overwhelming, especially in a brighter room.
  • Colors may appear in different shades upon the quantity of lighting.

Where to Use Gloss Paint?

Gloss Paint

The better idea of using gloss paint is using it in such areas where traffic is less. The high reflection in a less-lighted area may not sometimes be welcoming. Usually, I have found gloss paint suitable for trim, molding, and some small size furniture. You can use high-gloss products in cabinets, doors, shutters, and swimming pools.

You can create many artful patterns with gloss paint. Once, I used it with satin paint (same color) and the result was awesome. Fortunately, I got shiny strips on top of a satin finish. However, the exterior wall, main door, windows, etc., can be painted with gloss.

Comparing Satin, Semi-Gloss, and Gloss Paint

Satin vs Semi-Gloss vs Gloss Finish

Satin, semi-gloss, gloss – these are three different versions of painting products. They can be paint, varnish, or sealers produced for versatile applications. When you want to get clarity of their differences, you may start with the sheen.

Also, you can differentiate them upon their strength, stickiness or adhesion, longevity and others. Gradually, from satin to gloss, the difference gap is little. But in a larger sense (or you may say applications) the difference is notable.

These are some sets of comparisons to help you get better ideas about these three topics:

Satin vs Semi-Gloss Paint

Satin paint has the least sheen so that it cannot reflect light at all. But clear satin paint can reflect a bit while maintaining a flat look. Alternatively, semi-gloss can reflect light more than flat satin paint.

Imagine you want to paint your home, or any furniture or other stuff. You should know the best type of paint to make things attractive. In this sense, semi-gloss paint makes the surface shinier and brighter. On the other hand, satin is preferable for a vintage look.

The following are some facts you should know about satin paint compared to semi-gloss paint:


Satin and semi-gloss reflect light in distinct manners. It can influence color choice. If you want a clearer and better smooth surface, choose semi-gloss paints. Satin is almost a lusterless paint offering bold look.

A great example would be semi-gloss yellow paint. It displays an intensive and darker look compared to satin yellow color. Like this, the black semi-gloss finish is darker and richer than the mud-alike satin black finish.


Semi-gloss paint has tinier pigments and more binders. So, it automatically gets high endurance. Also, it provides better moist resistance. You can apply this paint on cabinets, kitchen, bathroom, windows exteriors.

You can prefer satin paint in the places where you spend more time. For example, bedrooms, kids’ rooms, and study rooms are good places to apply the satin products. Definitely, it will add elegance to your places.


Gloss of a paint means its luster. Satin paint may contain 20-30% gloss whereas semi-gloss has 35-70%. Therefore, semi-gloss paint is shinier and brighter. If you want to cure uneven, fractured, or dimpled surfaces, satin paint is better. It can create less attention to the imperfections.

Experts don’t recommend applying satin over semi-gloss paint. It lessens the beauty of surface color. Semi-gloss will stay more active than satin. But if you prepare walls better, you can apply the satin over semi-gloss paint. For this, sand or scuff the semi-gloss finish first, and apply a primer. Then, you can use satin paints.


Satin paints have lesser durability than semi-gloss paints. Also, they cannot provide dampness resistance as well as semi-gloss paints. So, you may need to spend a bit more to buy semi-gloss paints.

Gloss vs Satin

The difference between gloss and satin are also remarkable. When you keep the two paints together, satin will look like matte with least sheen, and gloss appears most shiny. You can use these two types of finishes to work together for a desirable result.

Both paints offer significant endurance. You can use these in nearly every place. Still satin provides less intensity on walls but improved color experience. You get the original color as it doesn’t reflect light that could cause alter the view.

Gloss paints are a good choice for trims, accent things. They bounce light and make the surface attractive. Especially when you want viewers’ attention and admires, you may use gloss paints.

Satin vs Gloss Wood Finish

Gloss paints have more than 70% luster. So, it can reflect almost all the light felt on the surface. When you paint the wood floor with gloss paint, the finish will be more attractive. Your floor will look unique, updated, and modern.

Even cleaning the gloss wood finish is easier and more time-saving. But there is a problem with the gloss wood finish. It can show you all the stains by any chance it gets. The reflection of light will easily mark the spot.

Then again, satin wood finish is the compromise based on the fact of sheen. You would not expect your floor more attractive than the walls or other things in your house. This is the reason why the satin wood finish is more popular.

It is great for any official or traditional look. Also, the covering of imperfections is up to the mark. Satin finishes last longer as stains remain invisible for a long time. However, cleaning the satin finish may be a bit tough compared to the gloss wood finish.

Semi-Gloss vs Gloss

It’s like the comparison of degrees in English grammar: good, better, best. Gloss is the excellent and semi-gloss is the comparative degree. The difference between these two is the sheen. They both are one step apart when you think of their glossiness. Gloss is often the shiniest version and semi-gloss has a subdued version of shine.

People prefer gloss paint for molding, trims, and some tiny household items. Because they ignore the imperfections in this kind of painting, but gloss paint is too much for wall painting. It turns out as overpowered on the wall. In such conditions, semi-gloss paint is more suitable for larger walls or areas.

Satin vs Gloss Polyurethane

Painters use polyurethane to coat the wood surface well. Usually, it offers protection to underlying wood and reduces the chances of wear throughout time.

Sheen is the main difference between satin and gloss polyurethane. Satin, with less sheen, reflects light very little. Gloss polyurethane gives a high luster finish while reflecting a significant amount of light. Anyway, you can apply both in heavy-traffic areas.

Satin polyurethane hides flaws better compared to gloss polyurethane. So, you can choose satin over gloss to paint the wood floors. But still, gloss polyurethane can work on floors. I suggest you use satin polyurethane on wood floors where the place is brighter.

Satin vs Gloss Varnish

You may find varnish and polyurethane almost similar. Both are favorite options to give coat to wood surfaces. Polyurethane is mostly used in indoor areas. Varnish is good for bot outdoor and exterior applications.

Satin varnish often looks clean and stable. You can adjust the sheen easily by adding more coats. Gloss varnish will take more time for prep before you apply it. But the result is awesome when you see the surface is reflecting light and the color looks more attractive.

If you want a natural look, the varnish is the first thing you would want after painting. Satin varnishes are slightly reflective, giving a flattering look. You can add more coats of finish to make satin or gloss varnish shinier. But the result will be different as gloss varnish will act more like mirrors.

What are clear satin and clear gloss?

In general, clear satin paint means a velvet-like look with minimal chances of shining. It refers to the flat, dark color with a bit of shine on the exterior surface. It can reflect least light so that it looks slightly shiny.

Gloss clear or clear gloss paint gives almost lacquer type finish. When you use the clear gloss paint, the finish will be extremely shiny as it will reflect light a lot. Normally, these clear gloss paints are applicable over the traditional painted surface.

Differences between Clear Satin vs Clear Gloss

Clear satin and clear gloss – both are popular for their implementation and outcome. However, important differences exist between the two products. You don’t need to remain in a dilemma about which one you should pick for the next painting project. Here is the full concept:


Glossiness or sheen of paint represents its endurance. When you apply clear gloss, it remains more resistant to a stain. This luster is comparatively lower in a non-glossy or a clear satin product. Again, you can easily clean, wash the clear gloss painted surface. On the other hand, clear satin needs a bit more time and effort for cleaning.

These facts are the reasons when people love to use clear gloss paints in specific areas. You may see them using clear gloss paint products in their bathrooms, kitchens, kid’s rooms, and others. You can also get the valuable product in the main entrance painting.

Mostly, sheen means unit or way to calculate how the light reflects for a surface. Clear glossy products reflect much like mirrors as they have very high sheen. The same reason works for a clear satin paint. You can see any color darker even that is in a clear gloss. Also, a clear satin finish may look like a light shade.


Obviously, paint with a higher sheen appears super-easy cleaning. It may make the fingerprints and smudges visible. On a glossy surface, the slickness helps clean it within moments, even with a wet cloth.

Suppose you have some dents or stain marks on the walls. Clear satin is the best way to hide those unwanted spots. This is an example of why you should pick up the clear satin product. It can divert the viewers’ attention from any specific area of the area with blemishes. After all, satin has better smoothness and is more suitable for the flawed surface.


Product pricing is essential at any point. However, you can find least difference of pricing between clear satin and clear gloss. Gloss paints contain more binders than satin products. Upon this fact, gloss paints are a bit pricy than satin products.

Just don’t worry about it even if you have a design that fits the budget. You can add beauty to your walls by paying less for clear satin paint. For more light, the brightness you can purchase clear gloss paint.


Now the final question is Satin or Gloss: Which One is the Winner?

Satin vs. gloss – I think you have gathered some exciting info on the topic. Both versions of paint is famous since the application and result are different.

You can bring a shine, trendy look with gloss. On the other hand, satin is for a bold, heavyweight, least shiny look. The choice is yours!

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