Satin vs semi gloss finish kitchen cabinets [2023]

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Satin vs semi-gloss finish kitchen cabinets, which is a better option for you? Find out here! Satin and semi-gloss are the most popular finishes and excellent choices for painting your kitchen cabinets.

satin vs semi gloss finish kitchen cabinets

Although choosing the color might be the hardest for you, determining the finish can be even harder: the sheen and shine of the surface when the paint dries. Numerous paint finishes are available, including high gloss, semi-gloss, satin, and matte or flat paint sheen. Each of these finishes best suits specific projects.

Still, most potential painters get stuck on the minor differences between these two. Making the right decision between these two finishes requires deep knowledge of the pros and cons. In this article, we will get into an in-depth comparison between these two finishes to help you decide your right pick. Here are some key points about each finish:

Satin finish:

  • Smooth, velvety finish with a medium sheen
  • Resistant to stains and scratches
  • Easy to clean and maintain
  • Can work well in a variety of design styles
  • Can show fingerprints and smudges more easily than a higher gloss finish

Semi-gloss finish:

  • Smooth, shiny finish with a high sheen
  • Highly resistant to stains and scratches
  • Easy to clean and maintain
  • Can work well in a variety of design styles, especially modern or contemporary
  • Can highlight imperfections in the wood or paint more easily than a lower gloss finish

One key difference between satin and semi-gloss finishes is the level of shine. Satin has a medium sheen, while semi-gloss has a higher sheen. This affects the overall appearance of the cabinets and how they reflect light. Another difference is the level of resistance to stains and scratches. Semi-gloss is generally more resistant, although both finishes are fairly durable. Both finishes can work well in various design styles, but the higher shine of semi-gloss may be more suited to modern or contemporary design schemes.

Semi-gloss vs satin paint

The paint color you choose is important for your rooms or kitchen cabinets. If you know a little about how these paint finishes can change your cabinets or living rooms from good-looking to great looking, you can easily decide to choose the right paint color.

satin vs semi gloss finish kitchen cabinets looking

Satin is an oil or latex-based paint that is less glossy than full gloss shine. There is a slight difference between the semi-gloss paint and satin paint. Unlike matte paints, satin has light reflective qualities, but the semi-gloss has more reflective qualities, versatility, and durability than satin paint. Otherwise, both are almost the same.

Satin finish, sometimes called eggshell paint finish, is slightly shiny and similar to matte. Satin paint appears silky smooth with a slight pearl-like reminiscent of an eggshell. Hence it is named the eggshell finish. Semi-gloss paint is a bit shinier as compared to satin. But unlike the satin’s velvety appearance, the semi-gloss finish has a constant luster.


Can you use satin or semi-gloss paint on kitchen cabinets?

Both satin and semi-gloss paint best fit the bill when painting your kitchen cabinets.

Both satin and semi-gloss paints are highly recommended while painting kitchen cabinets because they generally need durable paints that can resist smoke, heat, oil spills, and scratches. However, the environmental conditions must be considered when picking a satin or semi-gloss paint. In places with high moisture environments, a semi-gloss finish provides a glossier shine to your painted cabinets. While kitchen cabinets do better with satin paints in high-traffic areas.

Fun fact: This is how AI imagines semi-gloss finish kitchen cabinets

semi gloss finish kitchen cabinets

What finish is best for kitchen cabinets?

As far as the best finish is concerned, it generally depends on the type of kitchen cabinets. The kitchen cabinets may be wood cabinets, wood veneer cabinets, MDF cabinets, and laminate cabinets. However, a semi-gloss finish is the best choice for all kitchen cabinets because of its sheen and suitability for the kitchen environment, which generally has more moisture than outside.

Semi-gloss paint is a durable finish in the long run and reflects more light, which is a much-needed quality for any paint in the kitchen environment. So in the satin vs. semi-gloss paint battle, the former is the best for kitchen cabinets with the quality of being fairly durable and reflecting light in more quantity. While the latter is certainly more suitable for painting kitchen window frames that hide imperfections.

Semi-gloss paints

If you are unable to choose between a high gloss paint (also called 100% gloss finish) and a flat or eggshell paint finish (also called matte paints or matt finish) the semi-gloss paint is your option. In other words, picking semi-gloss paints saves you from the dilemma of extreme choices. . These semi-gloss paints being the half shiny half flat paints are the brilliant middle ground paints that provide significantly more shine to your house.

Pros of Semi-Gloss Paint finish

  • Withstands steamy cooking.
  • Durable even in the most highly trafficked areas.
  • Can be cleaned easily over and over with a damp cloth without damage.
  • Resistant to dents, scratches, and even smudges.

Cons of Semi-Gloss

  • Touch-ups are needed frequently.
  • A bit less DIY-friendly.
  • Dents, Scratches, dings, surface imperfections, and uneven brush strokes are more visible due to more light coats.

Should I use semi-gloss paint for my wood cabinets?

Before painting your kitchen cabinets, it’s important to know the type of material your cabinets are made from. Semi-gloss paint is best for wood cabinets if you are up to creating a well-balanced, safe aesthetic that can withstand changing trends. Semi-gloss paint holds fast over the unsmooth surface, making true wood cabinets the most suitable for painting.

satin vs semi gloss finish kitchen cabinets semigloss

If the wood of your kitchen cabinets is natural and bare, it might need little or no sanding at all. However, it will absorb more paint, especially when using water-based latex paint, hence its cost will rise. Still, a semi-gloss finish is an excellent option for wood cabinets, as it maintains the durability of your cabinets in the long run. Choosing the right paint for your cabinets can lessen their chances of being scratched and chipped, as the cabinets drawers, and doors are directly being touched, slammed, and pulled.

Is semi-gloss too shiny for kitchen cabinets?

A semi-gloss paint sits best between the two extreme ranges. Since they’re mildly glossier finishes that are not too shiny and not too flat or muted, they show the best results in any style of kitchen cabinet. Semi-gloss cabinets add up many of the advantages of both the matte cabinet kitchen cabinet and high gloss cabinet. Additionally, they will keep the kitchen bright as they reflect light to some extent.

satin vs semi gloss finish kitchen cabinets mildly

A high gloss finish may be too shiny shine but as the name itself suggests the semi-gloss cabinets might not be too shiny but mildly bright. That appears to be neither too flat nor too shiny.

What is Satin Finish?

Satin vs semi gloss finishes is often taken in comparison when the sheen has to be considered. Similar to matte, satin finishes are slightly bright. Satin or eggshell finishes are often described as velvety or silky because of their silky smooth appearance that reflects enough light to give the walls a subtle touch. Satin finishes or eggshell finishes do not tend to reflect more light than high gloss or semi-gloss finishes, but they do reflect more light than matte finishes.

Satin paints (Eggshell paint)

Satin or eggshell is a paint sheen that falls directly in the middle of the range of exterior and interior paint sheens. Both satin and semi-gloss paint finishes are more often taken as similar but there are slight differences between the two. The former is glossier than the latter paint sheen but flatter than semi-gloss paint. Satin paint won’t reflect as much light as gloss or semi-gloss paint would reflect. Still, satin paint might be an excellent option for rushy areas like living rooms, dining rooms, hallways, and family rooms. These frequently used areas need durable paints like satin paints.

Pros of Satin

  • Hides imperfections of the walls.
  • Absorbs light
  • Withstands stains and scuffs.
  • Easy to clean and durable paint.

Cons of Satin

  • Risky to use in areas where it is frequently exposed to moisture and water.
  • Not ideal for a messy kitchen due to its elegant nature.

Should I use satin paint for my kitchen cabinet set?

If you are eager to play with colors and yet want to maintain the graceful and elegant nature of your kitchen cabinet set, the satin paint is for you. However, if you have a number of kids and pets on board or you can not hire an experienced painter for some reason, then the best advice for you is to go with a natural wood finish or look for something else.

Application and appearance

When it comes to applying satin and semi-gloss finish, the task is quite easy than flat paints. To compare satin with semi-gloss, the latter has more sheen and reflects more light than the former. And therefore, seems to amplify the flaws of the surface and might show imperfections and touch-ups if the cabinet is not sanded properly.

satin vs semi gloss finish kitchen cabinets easy

Furthermore, a semi-gloss will show the brush strokes more as compared to a satin finish. You should take care of using even brush strokes and light coats with semi-gloss paint instead of one thick coat. As the semi-gloss paint will come up with a mildly glossy finish than the satin paint, it can positively affect the appearance of your kitchen, making it a bit more glamorous, brighter, lighter, and a little bigger.

On the other hand, if you are interested in creating a dark and cozy space or you want to paint a room that has a glare from a mighty light source, choose a satin finish for its minimalist and demure appearance.

Is it necessary to seal cabinets after painting?

Time kills everything. Even the highest quality paints deteriorate and fade away over time. So, it is mandatory to finish by sealing your cabinets with the best transparent coat top to prolong the lifespan of your cabinet paint job. You have multiple sealing options that include varnishes composed of polyurethane, water-borne acrylic, polyacrylic, spur urethane, nitrocellulose, and more.

Should I use a brush or roller to paint cabinets?

Using a brush or roller to paint your cabinets is determined by a lot of things, that only a skilled painter can rightly pick. Using a brush is fine for wood but keep in mind if not done by a professional, the visible brush strokes will affect the appearance adversely.

However, I always prefer using a roller because it makes the job easy and gets things done faster. You just need to be careful about the fabric on the roller as it might create a bobbly texture on the surface. Other than this, roller painting always wins if you want a perfect finish as brush painting might leave traces of bristles.

Do I need to prime the cabinets before painting?

The answer is a big YES. In fact, consider it equally important as your paint and finish. If you want your paint to hold fast and hide imperfections, using a good primer is the only option. Otherwise, the chances of missing edges and corners will increase.

How do I get the smoothest paint finish?

It is the prep work before painting that gives the smoothest vibes afterward. Though, a time-consuming process, but if done properly, it will bestow the finest painting finish. So, either hire a professional or take your time to prep the surface thoroughly using the following steps.

  • Fill in the holes and cracks.
  • Peel old paint and remove all layers of wallpaper.
  • Clean the surface with a damp piece of cloth.
  • Use primer before painting.

Do kitchen cabinets need special paint?

For your kitchen cabinet, no special paint is required whatsoever. You can use any paint, though semi-gloss and satin have certain benefits over others.

Since the kitchen is the most used and high-traffic area, paints like gloss, semi-gloss, and satin are ideal due to their durability. A flat paint and satin finishes are the ultimate perfect for painting wood cabinets. Matte closely resembles flat paint if used in the same colors. However, it is not a good choice for your kitchen as it doesn’t let your wipe easily. You can always use a damp cloth over semi-gloss paint.

Can I paint satin over semi-gloss?

If the semi-gloss paint on the wall is oil-based paint, then applying oil-based satin paint is best to repaint the wall. If it is latex semi-gloss on the wall, then go for satin latex paint. In either case, when painted, the wall can still give off a glossier shine. Primer is the only solution to this.

Why do white cabinets turn yellow?

Your white cabinet turns yellow over time when exposed to a high amount of direct sunlight or any other sharp source of light and heat. You’ll require some time-to-time touch-ups as the only solution to this.

How do you keep painted kitchen cabinets from chipping?

To keep the painted kitchen cabinets from chipping, it is preliminary to properly prepare the surface by sanding, peeling, and cleaning before applying paint.

Secondly, pick cabinet door bumper pads from any hardware store and stick them to the corners of the doors and drawers to keep the cabinets’ paint safe from chipping when they bump onto the frames.

How can I paint without brush marks?

If you’re keen to use the brush, but irritated by the marks, here are a few ways that you can use to avoid such a fate.

The easiest and simplest way is to use matt or flat paints as they’ll hide most imperfections and, most importantly, brush marks too. But if you’re using paint with a considerably higher sheen, then applying the second layer of paint before the first dries completely is another secret to getting rid of those marks.

That said, the quality of brush used and skillful painting techniques cannot be undermined as they can create a whole lot of difference in the end.

Ariel Path

With over three decades of experience in food manufacturing and kitchen design, I bring a wealth of knowledge to the table. My expertise spans across various aspects of the culinary world, from kitchen appliances to cooking techniques, food selection, and promoting a healthy lifestyle. My ultimate goal is to educate and inspire you in creating your dream kitchen, where functionality meets aesthetics. As a trusted source, I strive to provide valuable insights and guidance to make your kitchen remodel an enjoyable and successful experience. Together, let's transform your space into a culinary haven that reflects your unique style and meets your specific needs. See more details here.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Avatar photo

    Satin paints for us, we have two toddlers and two teens that are running amok in the kitchen. The cleanup is easy, the fingerprints are less visible and choosing a deep green shade instead of white – which is what we had in mind initially – proved to be a genius move.

  2. Avatar photo
    Felicia P.

    We had to repaint our kitchen cabinets twice, every single time we used satin paint. I swear by Benjamin Moore Advance Interior Satin Paint, it’s sooo easy to apply, it dries a lot faster than other brands I’ve tried and the finish is always perfect. Spending on the surface you might have to apply more than one layer.

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