Semi-gloss Paint vs. Satin Paint

A woman stands on a ladder to roll light blue paint onto a white wall.

Paints come in many varieties and several types include gloss in them for the finish. The quantity of gloss in the paint varies with each type, leading to a spectrum of finishes that start with very low shine and vary all the way up to very bright.

Semi-gloss paint is most commonly used because it can be easily cleaned without losing its shine. It also has a subtle shine and is not very ostentatious, so it also makes a good choice for just general interior paint.

Satin paint, also commonly known as eggshell paint and low-sheen paint, has a delicate, smooth, soft, and glossy look that has properties to hold up to light scrubbing. The paint gets its name from the fact that the paint has the shine and luster of a fresh eggshell.

While these two types of gloss paints are similarly formulated to make for easier cleaning and a subtle look, there are a few key differences to understand when making a choice about which one to use.

Finish Characteristics

Semi-gloss paint, when dry, has a rich shine, but it shows even the minutest of imperfections like bumps or dips in the surface. In comparison, satin paint leaves a more dull shine that can hide marks on your walls. Satin paint is also more flexible to better give the illusion of a perfectly smooth surface.


Semi-gloss paint is about a 50 percent gloss mixed with paint while satin will only have a 30 percent gloss in the mix.


Semi-gloss paint is usually applied in bathrooms, cabinets, and in kitchens as it is easy to wash and clean. Moreover, it gives a subtle shine instead of a glitzy look, which makes it perfect to use in places where accents are often done with tiling and fixtures as opposed to painting. Satin paint has a velvet touch with less gloss and is mostly used for ceilings, windows, doors, and walls. This paint is also popular in children's rooms.


Semi-gloss paint tends to be more expensive than most other paints because of its durability and resistance to all dust stains and smears. While semi-gloss reveals blemishes in a wall more than it hides them, the wall will often dent before the paint will remove or chip if something bumps against it. Comparatively, satin paint is as not durable, and cannot be as easily cleaned. This makes it less popular, but less costly as well.

Both the paints can be applied on all surfaces including walls, ceilings, furniture, staircases, etc. Selecting the right paint for your room can be a confusing task but should be done keeping certain factors such as these in mind.