Satin Vs Semi-Gloss

What are the differences between satin vs semi-gloss paint? Why should choose one over the other depends on what and where you’re painting.

Your desired results means you will need to choose one paint finish over another.

Let’s review the most important differences between the two types of paint and see which one is best for your painting projects.

satin vs semi gloss

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Satin Vs Semi-Gloss

When it comes to choosing between satin vs semi-gloss paint, there are some important differences to consider.

Satin paint has a lower sheen than semi-gloss, which can make it more forgiving of pre-existing imperfections on walls or furniture. It will show more imperfections than flat/matte and eggshell finishes, and shouldn’t be used in high trafficked areas as it can be less durable and more difficult to clean than Semi-gloss.

Semi-gloss, on the other hand, is more reflective and tends to reveal more imperfections in large, flat wall surfaces. However, the same quality that makes semi-gloss less forgiving on walls also makes it the preferred sheen for trim, as it can draw attention to imperfections. It’s super easy to clean and very durable, perfect for high traffic areas like trim, doors, baseboards.

Flat FinishGlossy Finish
Walls, Hallways, CeilingsTrim, Cabinets, Bathrooms, Doors
Hides holes, uneven or patched areasCan rub clean, more durable
Low Light ReflectionMedium Light Reflection

Which is Better Semi-Gloss or Satin?

Well, one is not better than the other. Each paint finish has it’s pros and cons and each one should be used in specific places in your house. So, it depends. For example satin is great on walls and semi-gloss is great on doors, trim and cabinets.

When choosing between satin vs semi-gloss finishes, it’s important to consider the type of room you’ll be painting, the durability you desire, and the overall look you hope to achieve. Both finishes have their pros and cons, so it’s worth weighing the different factors before making a decision.

Is Satin Shinier than Semi-Gloss?

Satin paint is a flat paint finish meaning it doesn’t reflect much light so it’s not shinier than semi-gloss. Semi-gloss has a glossy like finish and reflects much more light, making it look shiny as the light bounces off of it.

Is Semi-Gloss more Durable than Satin?

Semi-gloss is more durable and easier to clean than satin because of its glossy finish. It’s ideal to use in high traffic areas. Be careful though, semi-gloss will show imperfections in walls like uneven areas.

When Should you Use Satin Paint?

Satin paint is perfect for using on walls in rooms, hallways, and ceilings with lots of natural light. If you need to hide uneven walls, patches, or general imperfections, satin paint is the way to go. Semi-gloss has a shiny finish and will show these things much more than the flat finish of a satin paint.

Satin vs Semi-Gloss Exterior Paint

Exterior paint needs to be super durable to withstand the elements like rain, snow, sun, heat, wind etc. For this reason, a semi-gloss finish is recommended over a satin finish. Semi-gloss is glossy and will also make your exterior surfaces easier to clean.

Satin Vs Semi-Gloss Cabinets 

Cabinets should always be done with Semi-Gloss over satin. Heavy duty enamel paint works best for cabinets. Looks amazing on cabinets, in your bathroom, hallway, on interior and closet doors. It’s durable, easy to clean, and long lasting.

Satin Vs Semi-Gloss for Bathroom 

Semi-gloss is king for trim work like baseboards, doors, and window trim in any room of your house. Even use it on your vanity. These surfaces are in high trafficked areas and might take some abuse.  It’s durable and super easy to clean.  

You’re not going to want to use this finish for spraying paint on your walls though.   

Semi gloss will show more random imperfections on your walls, which doesn’t look very professional.

Satin Vs Semi-Gloss: What is a Semi Gloss Paint Finish?  

Semi gloss is between eggshell and gloss paint.  It dries with a sheen that reflects light and looks shiny.  I find it looks cleaner and adds a touch of class to a room.  This paint finish will draw the eye to the area and brighten up the room.   

Industry standard lists its’ paint sheen at anywhere from 20 to 59%. 

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Satin Vs Semi-Gloss: What is a Satin Paint Finish?  

Satin paint is a low gloss almost velvety paint finish that is great for walls, ceilings, and hallways. Satin paint finish hides imperfections on walls like uneven areas, patched areas, and holes.

Rooms with natural light look best when painted with a satin finish because sometimes reflected light from semi-gloss paint creates an uncomfortable glare when light shines on it.

How to Clean Satin Vs Semi-Gloss

Semi gloss paint is a bit easier to clean than satin paint.  That’s why we recommend it for high moisture and trafficked areas like your kitchen or bathroom even trim, doors, and closet doors.   

You can wipe the grease and hand prints right off semi gloss without too much issue.  

Using a soft cloth or sponge, add a small amount of dish soap to hot water and rub your problem area until gone.    

If that doesn’t work you can try a solution of 1 gallon cold water and 2 cups of ammonia.  Ammonia is toxic so use a respirator, latex gloves and ventilate your room.  

Satin paint is cleaned by using hot water and some dish soap as well.

Whatever paint finish you have, us a sponge and don’t press too hard, or you risk leaving marks in the paint finish.

No matter what paint finish you have, never use a magic eraser on your walls. It actually strips a thin layer of paint off your walls and will leave a dull mark where you scrubbed.


The pros and cons of satin vs semi-gloss should be considered before painting the inside of your home. Picking the right type of finish can mean the difference between you loving your work or having to do it all over again.

Satin vs semi-gloss paint each have unique characteristics that should be considered when choosing a finish. Satin is more forgiving of pre-existing imperfections and has a lower sheen, while semi-gloss is more reflective and draws attention to millwork details on trim. Factors such as the type of room, desired durability, and overall look should be weighed when choosing between the two finishes.


What is the best paint I can use in my spray gun?

Check out our detailed post about the best paint for a spray gun HERE.