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What is satin finish?

What is satin finish? Satin can be a very versatile finish for renovating a home, whether you’re talking paint, polyurethane, or hardwood floors. It has some disadvantages but also has notable advantages in most cases. Let’s take a look at what satin finish has to offer.

And sometimes when people talk about satin finish, they’re talking about the screens on mobile devices or computer monitors. I’ll cover that too.

What satin finish is

what is satin finish

Satin is a good middle of the road paint, in between flat and glossy in terms of sheen and cost.

Satin finish is a middle-of-the-road finish, somewhere between flat and glossy. It’s named for a type of fabric. That implies it’s smoother than flat paint, which can at times feel almost like a chalkboard. But it’s not as smooth and shiny as glass. Satin paint will reflect some light back, but it’s definitely more subtle than a gloss or semigloss finish.

Satin paint often costs more than flat paint, but not as much as glossy. A shinier finish is more expensive to make, which translates into a higher purchase price.

Its moderate price and versatility makes satin finish popular. It’s not always the best choice, but it’s never worse than the second-best choice. So, when in doubt, going with a satin finish is always a safe bet.

Advantages of satin finish

Satin finish is easy to take care of. Since it does have some sheen, dirt and fingerprints don’t stick to it as readily as they do to a flat finish. They also don’t show up as readily as they do to a glossy finish. The most frequent complaint about hardwood floors is that they look great right after you clean them, but they show every speck of dust or every fingerprint or footprint, Using a satin finish greatly reduces this.

A satin finish also does a better job of hiding scratches and other imperfections, so you don’t have to refinish them as often. If you have pets, you want satin-finish floors because they hold up much better.

Outdoors, satin tends to be more durable than flat. You may still have to paint every five years with a satin finish, but the paint job will look better as the five-year mark approaches. And since satin paint is less expensive than semigloss, the cost savings when painting an exterior is significant.

Indoors, satin finish is a good middle of the road choice. Satin paint on walls is more durable and easier to take care of than flat paint. It does a better job of hiding flaws than semigloss paint. If you’re not a professional and you’re not sure what to get, satin finish is probably the one you want. If you want a good-looking paint job but you’re not out to win awards, it’s hard not to go wrong with satin.

And frequently the slightly shiny finish is an advantage. You probably don’t want a glare on your walls.


Satin finish does have some disadvantages. Satin paint on walls yields a less durable and harder to clean surface than semigloss paint. I’ll argue that if you notice much of a difference between satin and semigloss paint in terms of durability, you’re too rough on your house. But there is a difference.

Satin doesn’t do as good of a job at hiding flaws as flat paint. So especially on rehab jobs, when a wall has been damaged, flat paint can look better than satin in some cases. Or you can step down to eggshell finish, which is between satin and flat in terms of sheen. But any of the three will hide more flaws than semigloss will.

And since satin paint is more expensive than flat paint, many people use flat paint in utility rooms and garages instead of satin.

Satin’s reflective properties give it a disadvantage on ceilings. So ceiling paint is always flat. You’ll be happier with specialty ceiling paint, or a flat white paint at the very least, on a ceiling.

What is satin finish on mobile devices or computer monitors?

A certain brand of very expensive mobile devices and computers recently popularized glossy finish on its screens. These glossy screens have a lot of wow factor when you first see them, but I found that if I have to look at one all day, it really hurts my eyes. The display is just too bold and has too much glare. I’m talking to the point where I went and got glasses after four decades of having pilot-like vision. Not everyone seems to have this reaction, but when I switched to some cheap monitors with a satin finish, I found I didn’t need my glasses nearly as much.

Some people are very outspoken about preferring a glossy finish on their screens. But others are even more outspoken about their preferring satin. Some manufacturers specify whether a device or monitor has a satin screen or glossy. If they don’t say otherwise, a tablet is often glossy and a laptop or monitor is probably satin. Checking it out in the store is probably a good idea, at least if you’re over the age of 35.

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