Satin Vs Gloss

Satin vs Gloss: What are The Key Differences?

Multiple finishes, varnishes, paints, and stain are present in the market. Each one has different types and categories.

They also come in different color ranges like flat, matte, satin, gloss, high gloss, and semi-gloss. It is important to know what each term represents before selecting a color for your home.

Finding the right color of paint can be a very hard job. But proper knowledge of paints color and the sheen present in it will make your selection very easy.

Sheen will indicate the color shine of the paint. Now If I am right- you are wondering about what is sheen and how I will measure this thing in paint!

Sheen can be simply measured by knowing how much paint will glow and what amount of binder is present in it.

Paint containing more binder will have more sheen in it like a high gloss and lower binder containing finishes will have less sheen in it like flat paints.

Don't worry more and read the following comparison between two popular finishes, satin vs gloss.

Why Choose the Right One between gloss and satin?

Satin and gloss finish give beautiful colors and protection to a surface. They differ because of chemicals and binders’ proportion in them. Some prefer to choose satin paint and some prefer to select a gloss look. It completely depends on your preference.

Other than color choice, there are some factors to take notice of before selecting one. Like how transparent finish you want or which type of color shade you are expecting. Which part of your home you are planning to paint? Durability and brightness of a color.

For the sake of all the above-mentioned reasons, it is important to choose the right one. We are going to discuss the characteristics and differences of both gloss and satin pants.

What is Satin?

We suggest going with your preference and what suits your home best. But one main thing to keep in mind is that a gloss touch will never hide or cover anything and satin will hide imperfections or scraps very well. Follow this one rule and attain your desired results.

Satin products have a very mild sheen in it and are less reflective of light. Sheen is the glossiness of a material. A sheen in any paint product can be measured by the ratio of binder to color pigments. Paint binder is an adhesive that binds the paint to a surface after drying.

More quantity of binder in paints will produce a glossier look. Satin contains less quantity of binder in it and some grains of color become exposed to the outside. This will scatter the light on the surface and will provide a less shiny look.

A satin product has a smooth silky touch. It has also strong durability which means that satin paint products do not easily weaken even by harsh regular clean-up. They also have strong resistance against mold and are widely used to paint outdoor things like sidings, shutters, and trims.

Satins are commonly used for frequently used rooms such as hallways, bedrooms, living rooms, and bedrooms. A big disadvantage of satin products is that they do not cover cracks or badly patched spots well due to low reflectivity.

However, satins present a shinier look than other paints like "flat" and "matte". They are famous to bring a warm and deep look to your wall with a little bit of shine. Satin paints mostly contain chemicals like water, tithan, calgum, color, P.V.A, texanol, nitrosol, ammonia, and antifungal.

Below are some of the pros and cons of using a satin product.


  • Simple and Easy Maintenance
  • Highly Durable
  • Slight Shine


  • Difficult application

What is Gloss?

What is Gloss

A gloss term refers to a high sheen level in paint. Gloss product reflects light in all directions and represents an extreme level of shine in paints.

Typical gloss paint display 70-90% gloss. It contains more binder in it making a surface smoother to give a mirror-like reflection. This displays a beautiful glass look over walls.

Binder used in gloss paint is alkyd resin. Alkyd resin is a long chain of polymers and is formed by the formulation of vegetable oil like linseed oil with organic acid and alcohol.

In the beginnings. gloss paints were manufactured as oil-based products and contained dangerous lead.

This was the main cause of paint yellowing. However, now they are also water-based and contain chemicals that are not hazardous. They also provide strong durability and resistance.

They are used mostly for painting outside of the house like trims and sidings to attract more attention. High glossy paints provide strong protection against moisture content due to water splashes and warm food in bathrooms and kitchen.

A less shiny paint of a glossy look is called semi-gloss. It also provides a lot of brightness and contains a high level of the binder but for a little less than high gloss. Glossiness percentage is around 35-70.

Gloss and semi-gloss paints are the hardest and durable paints due to the high percentage of binding material. A big drawback of these paint is that it shows every imperfection of paint and does not hide blemishes due to super light reflectivity. Usually. The gloss contains 54% alkyd resin, 25% pigments. 17% solvent and 4% additives.


  • High Strength
  • Moisture resistivity
  • Bold Appearance


  • Doesn't hide flaws

Satin vS Semi-gloss Paint

Semi-gloss paint is more glossy than satin paint. While painting your house interior or exterior and any kind of furniture it is important to know which type will be perfect for an attractive look. A semi-gloss paint presents a shinier and brighter look while satin paint displays a deeper classic look.

1. Reflection

Both paints will reflect light in a completely different way. This reflection of light will impact the choice of color. Semi-gloss has a clearer and smoother surface and thus reflects more light. On the contrary, satin paint has less sheen in it and is more like a lusterless paint.

For example, a semi-gloss red displays a darker and intense look as compared to a satin red shade. Similarly, the black shade of semi-gloss finish appears dense and rich while satin gives a muddy-like touch to wall-paint.

2. Best place to paint

Semi-gloss paint has high durability than satin paint. It is because of smaller pigments and high binder content in semi-gloss. This paint provides strong resistance against moisture.

If you are painting cabinets or any exterior in the kitchen or bathrooms, choose semi-gloss paint. It will provide the maximum strength to hold steams of the bathroom and boiling items of the kitchen. This is also a good choice for doors, trims, and windows.

However, for bedrooms, family rooms, and children's rooms, a satin finish will look great. It will add elegance to your home and while being a very little bit of shiny will also give you a matte look.

3. Gloss Content

Gloss content in paint represents its luster. Luster is shine, sheen, or brightness of paint. A satin paint contains 20-30 percent gloss in it while semi-gloss contains 35-70 percent gloss in it.

4. Practical concern

For uneven, repaired, and dimpled surfaces, semi-gloss touch is not recommended. Glossy paint reflects more light and attracts more attention to imperfections. The satin finish does a good job for such kind of surfaces as compared to the latter. We suggest preparing your wall surface before painting it with a satin finish.

However, they both do not hide imperfections properly. It also depends on the color you choose and how rough your wall is that you are trying to paint.

Do not apply satin over semi-gloss paint as it will result in ruining the beauty of your wall color. Semi-gloss will also not allow satin to cure properly. Switching from semi-gloss to satin is only possible after the preparation of walls.

For that purpose, sanding or gently scuff semi-gloss paint of the wall. After that apply a primer. Now paint your wall with a satin color.

5. Cost

As semi-gloss paints are highly durable paints and provide a good resistivity for moisture and mildew. Comparatively, satin ones are not that durable and are not easily cleanable.

This difference makes satin paints not as much popular and less expensive than semi-gloss paints. However, for both paints, there is not a big difference in costs.

Satin vS Gloss Polyurethane

Satin vs Gloss Polyurethane

Polyurethane is often used for floors to give them highly durable coating. The main difference between a satin and gloss polyurethane depends on the gloss present in it. Satin urethanes have smoother adhesive and give a velvety look while a glossy urethane has strong and high shine in it.

1. Appearance

A gloss polyurethane gives more luster to a wooden floor than a satin polyurethane finish. It is because of more shine in gloss paint and reflects more light. A gloss ploy-urethane will appear denser and darker than satin.

However, gloss polyurethanes do not hide imperfections very well and are not recommended for a repaired surface. If you want to hide a flawed surface or floor with paint, always go for satin polyurethane. Satin polyurethane gives a glass and mirror-like reflection.

2. Durability

When it comes to polyurethanes, both gloss and satin provide good resistance. Nevertheless, a slight difference against humidity resistance is present. This factor also depends on the choice of water-based and oil-based polyurethanes. The oil-based gloss has high durability than water-based polyurethane.

Satin polyurethane is less durable in high moisture and is not recommended for outside of the house. Semi-gloss contains strong bonding and attach the paint to a surface with more strength. It resists mold and dampness more than satin.

It is easier to clean dirt from a gloss than satin polyurethane. Still, Polyurethane hides scratches, dirt, and scuffs on a floor whereas gloss doesn't.

3. Furniture Type

Gloss polyurethane will always give a dramatic look to your wooden floor or other furniture. A satin one provides a more typical and modern look. However, using both with compatible contrast, you can create a highly demandable and trendy look.

High gloss polyurethane will drive you mad if you are planning to use it on hardwood floors or if you have pets in your home. However, with an exotic hardwood floor and or with a flooring border, it displays a charming color. Try to not use it on the floor with high foot traffic or small children running around.

If your furniture has lots of patterns and designs, try an oil-based satin or matte polyurethane. This also works well with bold and decorative designs. If there is a lot of natural light coming in your room or hall, satin polyurethane will present just a perfectly balanced look.

Similarly, to avoid extra shine and brightness use satin polyurethane while painting your wooden floor where a lot of natural light is present.

Satin vs. Gloss Varnish

Choosing the right varnish is very important while selecting between satin and gloss varnish finish. Let's compare them in detail

1. Function

Varnishes are best for interiors and exteriors of wooden furniture where a natural look is required. Satin is slightly reflective finishes and provides a flattering look than a shiny one. Though they can be shinier by adding more coats of finish but cannot compete for the brightness and glass mirror look of gloss varnish.

Gloss varnishes are used for exterior furniture and to paint borders and outlines of designs to add a luxurious look. Painting walls and furniture with gloss will give a bold natural look to your house.

However, a gloss varnish can never give a perfect look while satin varnish properly hides any damaged surface and other imperfections.

2. Gloss

Gloss describes luster content in a varnish. As you already have an idea that gloss provides more luster to a surface as compared to satin varnish.

Often varnishes are glossy but by adding flatting agents, they become a good satin varnish. Varnishes are designed to give a colorless look and it doesn't depend on what type of varnish you are using.

It just only differentiates between a clearer look and a little dull look.

Clear satin vs Clear gloss

Clear Satin vs Clear Gloss

Both clear satin and clear gloss will provide a very graceful look. If you are stuck between the two it is important to know what are the differences between the two.

1. Glossiness

Sheen in the painting also represents resistance to it. A clear gloss will be more resistant to any stain than a non-glossy or a clear satin one. Due to the high sheen of a gloss, it is very easy to clean and wash. Clear satin requires more a little more effort for cleaning.

This is the reason that clear gloss paints are highly useful in kitchens, bathrooms, and children's rooms. They are also the best choice for outstanding entrance.

Sheen is the way that light reflects. In clear glossy products, the sheen is very high and reflects light like a clean mirror. This is the reason that the same color will look darker in a clear gloss and a light shade for a clear satin product.

2. Durable

It is obvious that the higher the sheen, the easier the cleaning of any mess. It can revolve around fingerprints or any kind of smudge. As a glossy surface will be slicker, it will be easy to clean with a damp cloth.

If you have dents in your walls then clear satin will cover it good. So, if you want to divert attention from a specific portion of the wall having blemishes, select clear satin. It happens because satin is smoother and more suitable over the flawed outside as it tricks the person to see an even surface.

3. Price

The price difference is very less between a clear gloss and clear satin paint products. However, gloss products are manufactured by a higher content of the binder in it and thus is a little bit costly than satin.

But if you are limited on budget and are looking for suitable and cheap paint to add elegance to walls, select satin. They are budget-friendly and have good durability too. If more light and brightness is required on walls and floors, buy clear gloss paint.


Whether you are painting something very new or painting a repaired surface, knowing the difference between different levels of sheens is important.

The above comparison about the difference between satin and gloss will surely help you to choose the right one between two. For a better look, it is suggested to always apply at least two coats of both finishes.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top