Which Is Best: Satin or Semi Gloss? When painting your space, picking the right color isn’t your only choice to make. The finish you choose is an important decision that will impact how your paint job wears, looks and lasts for years to come. There are many differences between satin and gloss. Satin has a soft sheen that reflects light softly, making it a common choice for bedrooms and living spaces. While surfaces with satin finish paints may be cleaned, care must be taken to avoid marring the surface. The glossy effect of semi gloss makes it a good choice for trim work or in wet locations like the kitchen or bath. Semi gloss, with its slick finish, can handle more enthusiastic scrubbing. Familiarize yourself with the individual characteristics for each finish and make an informed choice before you pick up the paintbrush.
Know Your Space
Kitchens and bathroom walls will benefit from a semi-gloss finish. These rooms require a durable finish like the one gloss offers. A semi-gloss finish will take the scrubbing necessary in the kitchen or bath and will be more impervious to moisture than satin cousin. The same will hold true for doors, window moldings and trim. For bedrooms and living spaces, however, satin finish paints are the better choice. Regardless of finish, never attempt to scrub a newly painted wall. Allow a minimum of one week for the paint to thoroughly cure.
Test Your Colors
Both paints will reflect light differently. This reflection will impact the way the color you’ve chosen plays upon the walls. A semi-gloss red, for example, will appear darker on the wall than the same shade in satin or matte finish. Black will look rich and luxurious in a semi-gloss but may appear muddy to the eye if done in a satin finish. Creamy white, semi-gloss trim is a classic look that is inimitable with satin paints. Test your colors and your finish on the wall before you settle on your final choices.
Long Term Choices
Applying a satin or matte finish paint on top of a semi-gloss will result in less than perfect results. The gloss finish will not allow paint to adhere and cure properly. Switching from a semi-gloss to a satin finish is possible if you prepare your walls properly. Use a sander to gently scuff the surface of semi-gloss areas and give the surface a coat of primer before you attempt to paint over a semi-gloss paint finish.
If your walls are uneven, have been repaired or are dimpled, a semi-gloss finish will highlight those imperfections far more than will a satin finish paint. Choose a satin finish where walls are less than perfect or perform the steps necessary to refinish the surfaces. Touch-ups with semi-gloss paint are more difficult to feather into the existing finish. For rooms where you anticipate touching up areas on a regular basis, a satin finish would be a better choice because it will let you keep the repairs invisible.