What is a satin finish? Does satin have a shiny or dull finish?

What is a satin finish? A satin finish is a finishing paint that is used to make the surface look like a fabric sheet. The satin finish is often described as a finish that makes the surface look velvety and silky. The satin finish is also known as an eggshell finish as the finish mimics […]
What is a satin finish?

What is a satin finish? A satin finish is a finishing paint that is used to make the surface look like a fabric sheet. The satin finish is often described as a finish that makes the surface look velvety and silky.

The satin finish is also known as an eggshell finish as the finish mimics the same level of shine as an eggshell. This type of finish neither reflects light like a gloss finish nor does it give a flat appearance similar to a matte finish.

It has a reflective profile that falls in between the two. It reflects as much light as does a fine silk scarf. This basically means that it shimmers when light is shown on it but it does not shine.

A satin finish gives a unique beachy and vibrant vibe. This type of finish looks best when used in bright vibrant colours. This is in contrast to a matte finish which looks best in darker bolder colours.

A satin finish will dim down hard highlights and shadows when a hard light such as a table lamp is placed in front of the surface. This is in contrast to glossy paints which will cast out hard shadows and highlights.

But this type of finish will not dull down the highlights and shadows to the same extent as matte paints. Similarly, a satin finish will not glow with dimmer and diffuse lights such as sunlight, in contrast to the glossy paints which will glow in such a light.

So satin comes in between the two types of finishes, matte and glossy. It is an all-rounder. It will neither glow nor will dull shadows to the same extent as glossy and matte paints respectively. But it seems to do both jobs to the best of its efforts.

If you decide on using satin for your living space you will have the best of both worlds. It makes sense to use satin finishes in living spaces that are in direct sunlight during the day but are lit with hard lights at night such as lamps. The use of a satin finish in such a situation will make the space more evenly lit both during the day and night.

What is a satin finish?
Image courtesy of webneel.com

Is satin a matte finish?

No, satin is not a matte finish. In fact, it is a separate kind of finish that looks distinct from both matte and gloss finishes. Satin finish on any surface looks more like painted silk or velvet scarf. This kind of finish has a shimmer to it but no glow.

It does not reflect like a gloss finish. Similarly, it does not absorb light like a flat or matte finish.

Consider the image below. The white at the centre of the image is painted in glossy paint. It can be seen if you focus to be glowing even in the diffuse sunlight. While the green is painted in a satin finish. The green satin is neither glowing nor is it reflecting the light.

This is the best way to distinguish between a satin and a gloss finish. It’s kind of hard to tell in a picture but when painted on a wall side by side the difference is as clear as night and day.

You can learn more about matte paints in our dedicated article.

You can learn more about gloss paints in our dedicated article.

What is a satin finish?
Photo by Monstera

Which is better matte or satin?

It depends on the space and the type of lighting that will be used in the space. If the space you are painting is going to be lit using hard light from bulbs then a matte finish will be the one I would recommend. But if you are painting a space that has diffuse light during daytime and you will be only turning on the hard lights at night then I would recommend using satin paint.

As satin paint can look amazing in diffuse light and can also dull down most of the shadows and highlights in the presence of hard lights at night, it is my top recommendation for most people looking for a fancy finish for their living or dining room.

Learn more about matte paints in our dedicated article.

You can learn more about gloss paints in our dedicated article.

Is satin finish bad?

No, it is not bad. But satin finish tends to show imperfections of painting quite obviously. This is one thing that annoys a lot of people. Due to the distinct light absorptive quality of the satin paint, it is prone to show a few imperfections here and there.

Is satin black shiny?

Satin black has been made famous due to its use in the car industry. Satin blacks look pure black in dim light and at night. But in daylight, it looks like a blackboard on which chalk has been rubbed. So, for spaces that have big windows and get lots of sunshine during the day satin black is not my favourite.

Satin black is best for spaces that are going to remain dimly lit e.g. a basement, or a home cinema. Satin black is the go-to colour that is used in nightclubs and dark bars.

But for a well-lit bedroom satin grey should be used instead of satin black for the stealthy and modern look.

Image courtesy of home-designing.com

Why does my satin paint look glossy?

Satin paint is not like matte paint. Satin paint has a tendency to reflect some light. This is probably the reason why it is appearing glossy to you. Satin paint shimmers in hard light instead of looking flat.

It is the nature of the finish and it is designed this way so that it can be used in spaces that receive daylight during the daytime and are lit by hard lights at night.

Does satin paint show imperfections?

Yes, it does. It is due to the nature of the finish itself. Satin paint has a tendency to reflect a few rays of light back. Unlike matte paint which absorbs almost all of the rays of light. And glossy paint that has an oil-based formulation that reflects most of the light rays back.

Satin paint reflects only a few rays of light back. It has a tendency to make the surface look crystal clear to the eye. Due to this, it shows even minute imperfections on the surface perfectly to the human eye. This can be an issue if you are a perfectionist.

But if you hire a professional to do the job then you can expect almost zero imperfections on the surface.

What is a satin finish?
Image courtesy of angi.com

To learn more about matte paints visit our dedicated article here.

To learn more about gloss paints visit our dedicated article here.

Find more articles similar to “What is a satin finish? Does satin have a shiny or dull finish?” here.

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