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Satin Vs Semi-Gloss Paint

Satin Paint: Best Sheen for Exterior Painting

When deciding to paint a room in your house, there are some factors you should consider. First, you need to decide which room you will paint. Second, you have to pick the color. And last but not least, you have to choose the color sheen. And all of these decisions are daunting tasks. In a super long article, we tried our best to help you choose the ideal sheen for your room or surface.

Today, we decided to take a narrower approach, and we’ll be comparing satin vs. semi-gloss paint so that you pick the ideal paint finish.

Satin Vs. Semi-Gloss Paint: All Depends On The Intended Use

When comparing satin vs. semi-gloss paint, their difference lies in the performance. The satin sheen level is 26 to 40, and its durability is ideal for exterior walls. The semi-gloss sheen level is 40 to 50, which works great for wood trims, front doors, and window frames.

With that being said, let’s dive into the details.

It’s essential to understand the characteristics, benefits, drawbacks, and ideal applications of satin and semi-gloss paint to choose the finish that best suits your needs.

Satin Paint: A Subtle Elegance Ideal for Exterior Walls

We can say satin paint has the best of both worlds. First of all, satin paint is known for its soft, velvety appearance. It is the perfect balance between matte and glossy finishes, adding elegance to any room without being overly reflective.

Also, this versatile finish is durable and washable, which makes it ideal for painting the exterior and interior of your house.

Pros Of Satin Paint:


Satin paint is more durable than flat or matte finishes. It resists chipping, peeling, and mildew, making it perfect for high-traffic areas or spaces exposed to moisture.

Vivid Colors For A Longer Time:

Satin sheen paints are perfect for using bright, vivid colors on your home exterior. As you know, the higher the sheen, the more durable a paint finish is.

In this case, if you live in a hot, sunny climate such as San Diego, CA, satin paint can last longer and doesn’t quickly fade because it contains more UV protection than matte paints.

Easy To Clean:

Satin paint has a medium sheen level of 26 to 40 % reflectance. Thanks to its slightly glossy surface, satin paint is relatively easier to clean than matte finishes. A damp cloth or sponge can remove most stains and dirt.


The subtle sheen of satin paint makes it suitable for high-traffic rooms, including living rooms, kid bedrooms, family rooms, playrooms, hallways, and entryways. Satin sheen elegance complements various décor styles, from traditional to modern.

As we mentioned earlier, satin paint is great for exterior walls because it is resistant to mold and moisture. 

Satin paints contain mildewcide, which prevents mold and mildew growth on walls. Also, satin paint finish holds up well to regular cleaning and scrubbing, making them suitable for painting your house’s facade.

Other surfaces you can paint with satin sheen include interior doors, interior trim/baseboards, and porch ceilings.

Cons Of Satin Paint:

Application Challenges:

Satin paint can be challenging to apply evenly, requiring detailed preparation work. And this can become a nightmare for inexperienced painters. Touch-ups are hard to blend into the existing finish. So, if not applied correctly, satin paint may show brush strokes or roller marks, which could mar the overall appearance. That’s why you should hire an experienced painting contractor.

Surface Imperfections Are Noticeable:

One of the drawbacks of satin paint is that it doesn’t hide surface imperfections.

Semi-Gloss Paint: Stealing the Spotlight with a Lustrous Shine

Semi-gloss shines bright like a diamond.

But in all seriousness, semi-gloss paint has a higher sheen than satin with 40 to 50 % reflectance.

So, a highly reflective finish steals the spotlight and gets your attention.
But the sheen that makes semi-gloss paint eye-catching is perhaps the most prominent aspect you should consider before deciding to paint even minor areas. Take a look at the cons of semi-gloss paint to get more details on this.

Advantages Of Using Semi-Gloss Paint:


The higher the sheen, the more durable the paint is. So, semi-gloss paint offers performance, making it an excellent option for high-traffic or frequently touched areas, such as doors, trims, and cabinets.

Moisture Resistance:

Thanks to its glossy finish, semi-gloss paint repels moisture effectively, making it perfect for kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry rooms.

Easy to Clean:

Semi-gloss paint sheen is perfect for surfaces that require constant cleaning since it has a smooth and water-proof finish. To remove stains, dirt, and fingerprints from the surface, you can lightly scrub the wall with a soft sponge or a damp microfiber cloth using a mix of soap and water.

Creates An Eye-Catching Surface:

This is a lustrous finish. So, semi-gloss paint makes surfaces stand out. Semi-gloss paint does a great job highlighting woodwork like trims, front doors, and window frames. It’s perfect for high-touched areas since it holds up to constant handling.

But this benefit is a double-edged sword. 

How so? 

Well, on the cons of semi-gloss paint, we’ll explain this.

Flaws of Semi-Gloss Paint:

Accentuates Imperfections:

The biggest flaw of semi-gloss paint is that it also highlights even the smallest surface flaws and blemishes, such as bumps or dips due to its reflective nature.

Only Expert Painters Can Apply It:

As we said earlier, the lustrous finish is a double-edged sword. 

A semi-gloss sheen can magnify the results when doing a good painting job. And it can worsen even the smallest of mistakes when doing a poor painting job.

So, it is crucial to do meticulous wall preparation and priming to achieve a smooth finish. Semi-gloss paint is tricky to apply evenly and may show roller marks without care. Due to its challenging application, you must work with professional house painters. They make use of the proper tools and techniques, guaranteeing pristine results.

Satin vs. Semi-Gloss: Pick the Sheen that Fits the Surface

To conclude this article, I will share with you the ideal use or application of each paint sheen.

Recommended Use of Satin Paint:

High-traffic areas like kid’s bedrooms, hallways, entryways, family rooms, interior doors, interior trim/baseboards, living rooms, playrooms, exterior walls, porch ceilings, and woodwork.

Recommended Use of Semi-Gloss Paint:

High-traffic and high-moisture areas like bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms, exterior walls, basement walls, exterior trim, front doors, and window frames.

Now that you understand the differences between satin and semi-gloss paint, it’s time to choose the right painting contractor for your project.

Thank God we settled this debate for once. Now, you can share our post on social media to help other homeowners in this paint-sheen dilemma!

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