Satin vs. Semi-Gloss Paint Finish (For Exterior Trim)

Satin vs. Semi-Gloss for Exterior Trim

Semi-gloss paint finishes are designed to resist harsh weather conditions along with excess moisture.

Plus, its glossier sheen (than satin) makes it more durable and easier to clean.

Although both paint finishes can be used on the same surfaces, semi-gloss tends to be more popular for exterior areas of the home such as trims, siding, doors, window frames, shutters, etc.

Mostly because it is easier to clean and maintain compared to satin paints.

Satin paints tend to be used more around ceilings, walls, windows, and doors inside.

You will often also find them used in bedrooms with children. The lower amount of gloss and velvet appearance is generally more appealing for such rooms compared to semi-gloss.

Satin Vs. Semi-Gloss Paint Difference

Many semi-gloss paints are confused with a type of paint finish known as satin.

So, let’s get into the difference between them to solve the issue which will help you choose the right one.

The main difference between satin vs semi-gloss paint is in the shine that is achieved on the surface once the paint has been applied.

In simple terms, a glossy or a semigloss paint finish reflects relatively more light and hence it’s shinier than a finish achieved by satin paint.

Satin paints are sometimes also called eggshell paints because they give off the appearance of an eggshell.

These finishes are smooth which makes them easy to clean with just a little scrubbing.

Standard semi-gloss and satin finishes are both available in a variety of different refinishing products such as:

  • Paints and stains
  • Aerosol spray paints
  • Polyurethane, clear coats and varnishes
  • Wood sealants and furniture waxes

If you find yourself at the paint store and choosing between semi-gloss and satin paints, here are a few key differences that you need to know.

Satin PaintSemi-Gloss Paint
ShineDull shineRich glossy shine
Used forWindows, doors, trim, or ceilingsWalls in bedroom, living room
DurabilityLess durableMore durable
AppearanceThe smooth, velvety lookThe smooth, shining look
Ease of cleaningRequires more effort for cleaningEasier to clean off
WaterproofSlightly waterproofWater-resistant and can be washed
Ability to hide imperfectionsShows only major imperfectionsShows even the minor imperfections

Gloss Percentage

The most basic difference is that semi-gloss paint has about a 50% mix of gloss.

Whereas satin paint has about a 30% mix of gloss.

While the 20% difference may not seem like much at first, it does mean getting different results.

Different Finishes

The most subtle difference between the satin and semi-gloss paint is in their finishing.

This is one of the most important for those who want to get a specific kind of finishing from the paint.

Semi-gloss paints tend to show all the bumps, dips, and imperfections of the wall surface.

This means that any imperfection that you covered with the semi-gloss paint will still show.

Satin paints however offer less of a shine which helps to cover such imperfections especially if they are small.

The result is a clear paint finish that gives off the appearance of a smooth surface when in fact there are bumps, dips, and other imperfections present.

The Difference in the Price

The difference you may notice right away while at the paint store is the price.

Semi-gloss paints tend to be more expensive compared to satin paints.

That is because semi-gloss tends to be easier to clean and more durable which puts them in higher demand.

While satin paints have their uses, they tend to be less expensive, less durable, and somewhat harder to clean.

Now that you know the basic differences, you can choose the best one suited for your needs.

Just remember that while both are similar, clear semi-gloss is easier to clean and maintain which is why it costs more.

Semi-Gloss or Satin Finish

So, Which One is Better Semi-Gloss or Satin Finish?

Well, as both types of paints have their own pros and cons, the answer will majorly depend on your project requirements.

Generally speaking, a semigloss is an ideal finish that can protect exterior trims and other surfaces better.

If you are using it indoors, it can take all the possible scrubbing in the areas like the living room, bedroom, kitchen, and bathroom.

Also, its ability to resist water or moisture makes it a viable option for high-traffic areas such as these.

Although satin paint (with a sheen between flat and semigloss) also serves all these purposes, its less sheen makes it a lesser attractive.

However, its ability to hide the imperfections better makes it better than semigloss, especially if you have bare walls that are not well-finished or smoothened.

Considering the advantages and disadvantages of both, you should pick the one that is easily manageable for you.

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