Randy Charles
Randy Charles
Professional Painter

Hi, I’m Randy Charles, the creator and chief editor of this site Paintcentric. I’m a businessman now by profession, but I used to work as...Read more

Randy Charles
Randy Charles
Professional Painter

Hi, I’m Randy Charles, the creator and chief editor of this site Paintcentric. I’m a businessman now by profession, but I used to work as...Read more

Satin Vs Flat Paint: What Are The Key Differences?

Randy Charles
Randy Charles
Professional Painter

Hi, I’m Randy Charles, the creator and chief editor of this site Paintcentric. I’m a businessman now by profession, but I used to work as...Read more

Who doesn’t love a fresh coat of paint on their walls? Painting walls is one of the best home improvement projects. Paint makes homes look great and attractive. However, which color and paint to use can be a headache. Do you opt for satin or flat paint?

This leads to asking. Satin Vs flat paint: What are the key differences? The main difference between satin and flat paint is the finish. A satin has that touch of sheen or shine which lacks in the flat paint. Satin paint offers a slight luster that virtually lacks in flat paint.

However, this is not the only way that the paints differ. There are variations in their durability and maintenance.

So, which paint should you choose? Join me as we discuss the pros and cons of each paint and which one is better.

Satin Vs Flat Paint: Side-By-Side Comparison Chart

For most people, choosing the paint color is the most important thing. However, considering the finish is also important. The color finish can create a huge difference in your home.

Satin Vs Flat Paint

In addition, there are benefits to using a certain paint over another one. For example, you would want long-lasting paint in high traffic areas. The paint should also be affordable, easy to use, and maintain.

Below is a chart to illustrate the comparison between these two paints.

Satin Paint Flat Paint
Cost High Low
Finish Glossy and added sheen Velvety matte appearance
Shine Slight shine No shine
Cleaning Easy cleaning with soap and water Difficult cleaning and can peel paint with scrubbing
Durability Durable and long-lasting Wears fast and requires touch-ups
Moisture Moisture-resistant Does Not resist moisture
Application Trick to apply Easy to apply
Imperfection hide Does not hide imperfections Good at hiding imperfections on the walls
Best areas for use Ideal for high traffic areas like the kitchen, bathroom, brick exteriors and kids room Low traffic areas like the bedroom, living room, basement and storage

Satin Paint Overview

Satin paint is also known as satinwood. It is a quality kind of paint with a velvety and a beautiful luster feel. Most people describe the paint as reflecting with a touch of sheen or shine. However, you don’t want to confuse satin paint with gloss.

Satin Paint

Satin paint is not highly glossy. If you want to compare Satin Vs Gloss, satin paint reflects light and creates a gentle sheen that is hard to see on smooth surfaces.

When you consider different paint finishes, satin paint falls in the middle. The paint finish is usually impacted by the ratio of binders to pigments. Paints with glossier looks usually have more binders.

Satin paint contains more binders than eggshell and flat paint. This is why it creates a shiny look.  However, it has fewer binders than gloss, and semi-gloss paint.

The more binders in satin paint give certain benefits. For example, satin paint is moisture-resistant. This means it can withstand high-moist areas. It’s also easy to clean and maintain.

You’ll find satin paint in high-traffic areas because of these features. It’s highly durable and flexible. The paint is a lot easier to clean than flat paint and can withstand high traffic.

However, the high number of binders means fewer pigments. This means you might require more coats to achieve excellent results. More coats mean additional paint costs if you’re going to achieve full coverage. There are a few brands in the market that can offer full coverage with a single coat.

Sating’s high reflecting qualities are great, but also mean imperfections will be highly noticeable. You need to paint evenly and uniformly to avoid any imperfections.

This also creates a challenge for application. The high sheen makes it difficult to apply paint on the edges without creating lines. You need a proper satin paint application to ensure the final look is perfect.

Any mistakes made will clearly be seen. What’s more, doing touch-ups is really difficult. Because of the sheen, touch-ups are highly noticeable. While the paint might be applied evenly, the overall sheen might be uneven.

However, satin is durable and highly preferred for high-traffic areas like the kitchen, bathroom, and kids’ room. You can easily wipe off any dirt using soap and water. However, don’t use any abrasive brushes. This might make the paint lose its sheen.

Overall, satin paint is great when you want something shiny and not doing touch-ups. It will also cost you more than other alternatives in the market. However, price differences are small when painting a small area.

Pros
  • Moisture-resistant hence not affected by water
  • Stain-resistant
  • Easy to clean by wiping with soap and water
  • Highly durable making it ideal for high traffic areas
  • Sleeker and glossier finish
  • Good and uniform coverage

Cons
  • Difficult to hide imperfections
  • Application is a lot harder
  • Touch-ups will be highly noticeable
  • Expensive

Flat Paint Overview

Flat paint is by far the most popular type of paint and a great choice for interior walls. The paint has a matte finish and reflects very little light. It lacks the sheen you usually find in satin paint.

However, the lack of sheen makes the paint appear uniform and even when applied on surfaces. Flat paint has the highest amount of pigment than most paints available. It’s a lot easier to apply and dries pretty fast.

Flat Paint

This also means it has the lowest amount of binders. Low binders and high pigmentation give the paint good coverage. It’s a great paint that’s not impacted by colors that reflect on the surface.

The paint offers the so-called matter or concealer finish. It’s highly preferred in the interiors where the traffic is minimal. There are a few drawbacks to using flat paint.

First, the paint is difficult to clean. It hugely collects dust and dirt. This means you need to clean it more often. However, scrubbing the wall might make the paint come off.

If you happen to scrub the paint, the underlying color will also come off. This creates uneven color on the walls. For this reason, it’s recommended you use flat paint in low-traffic areas. This can be on ceilings and rooms with less traffic.

Additionally, flat paint wears faster. You’ll see scratches and tears on walls faster. This is why frequent touch-ups to maintain color is recommended for flat paint.

However, flat paint is quite affordable and easy to apply. You can apply wet paint to dry areas and still maintain consistent colors. This is a great feature when doing touch-ups. You can paint sections of the surface and the paint will be even without any imperfections.

The higher pigment to binders ratio helps improve coverage. This coupled with the lower cost means you end up saving a lot. You need a few coats to achieve the desired looks.

The paint is great when you want to hide wall imperfections. It’s not reflective, therefore, will not show any imperfections on the walls. Common surfaces with imperfections like ceilings are great places to use flat paint.

Pros
  • Non-reflective hence great at hiding imperfections
  • Easy application
  • Good coverage
  • Ideal for darker colors
  • Affordable
  • Great blending of touch-ups
  • Hides stains
Cons
  • Wears faster
  • Difficult to clean with scrubbing peeling paint
  • Not mixture-resistant
  • Gets dirt and dust fast

Satin Vs Flat Paint: What Are The Main Differences?

So, what are the main differences between satin and flat paint? I’ve already told you the main difference between the two paints. The number of binders to pigments hugely affects how the paint works and appears.

Satin Vs Flat Paint

To get a much clearer understanding of the differences, let’s look at the two paints under different factors. These are factors that you need to consider before deciding on the best paint.

Appearance

The major difference in the appearance of satin and flat paint is the sheen. Satin paint has a soft luster that reflects light creating some shine.

Flat paint lacks luster and does not reflect light. It features a matter or concealer finish with very minimal light reflection. This simply means that the same color paints can differ in an appearance on the same surface.

For example, the same satin color paint might appear lighter when light strikes while flat color paint remains the same. The satin finish gives surfaces lighter and visual depths.

The ideal paint depends on the surfaces. The reflective qualities of satin paint mean it can show wall imperfections. You cannot hide dents and dings on walls using satin paint. However, you can create even coverage and hide the dents with flat paint.

Cost

Cost should not be the biggest factor to consider when choosing the right paint. Sometimes the most expensive might not be ideal for some areas. The same applies to cheap paint.

With that in mind, flat paint is the cheaper alternative of the two. Flat paint is cheaper. However, price differences are minimal when buying small cans. The price difference becomes huge when painting huge projects where a lot of paint is needed.

Additionally, primers for satin paint will cost more as opposed to primers for flat paint.

Finish

Satin paint gives a glossier finish with a gentle sheen. Flat paint on the other hand is less glossy and reflects very minimal light. However, both paints can appear pretty smart when painted correctly without imperfections.

Application

Flat paint is the easiest to apply of the two. You can apply multiple layers without creating inconsistency. Flat paint blends easily and hides imperfections and stains.

What’s more, the paint dries quickly and allows for easy touch-ups. You can do touch-ups on drywalls without them showing. However, satin paint is a little trickier to apply.

You need to be fast when applying before the paint dries. If you apply satin paint over dry paint, it will show some inconsistency. However, you can do the same for flat paint without any inconsistency.

Generally, flat paint is easier to apply without any worries. It blends well and makes touch-ups even. For satin paint, you need a fast application in a single pass. If the paint dries before you finish applying, it shows inconsistencies.

Durability and maintenance

If durability and maintenance is your biggest concern, then satin paint is a great choice. Satin paint has a gloss medium that acts as a barrier between the outside elements and the paint. Therefore, satin paints tend to last longer.

The extra binders in satin give it more flexibility and durability. It makes satin more resistant to scratches and scrubbing. The tougher satin surfaces make maintenance a lot easier. Cleaning satin paint is easier without the paint peeling off.

Furthermore, satin paint is moisture resistant and not impacted by mold and mildew in damp areas. This is why you’ll find satin paint in places like bathrooms with a lot of moisture.

On the other hand, flat paint lacks binders making it flexible and durable. However, it’s not as durable as satin paint and easily affected by scratches and stains. Cleaning satin paint might also strip the paint revealing old paint underneath.

Coverage

Flat paint does offer better coverage than satin. This is because of the minimal binders and more pigment in flat paint. In flat paint, more pigments imbue more color on the surface. This ensures excellent coverage with just a single coat.

On satin paints, coverage issues arise due to fewer pigments. In every single pass, you make with a roller or a brush, you’re applying less color as opposed to flat paint. This calls for more than one coat for excellent results.

However, nowadays there are one-coat satin paints on the market. Such brands help deal with the coverage issue.

Is Satin Or Flat Paint Better?

Technically, there is no winner here! Each of these paints works well in specific areas. The better paint depends on the purpose and application surface.

If you want to create a general impression, satin is better than flat paint. This is because it’s easier to clean, moisture-resistant and more durable. While the application is difficult, satin lasts longer and allows for easy cleaning without peeling paint off.

However, as I indicated earlier, the better paint comes down to how you intend to use the paint. For example, flat paint is better for low-traffic areas that don’t require touch-ups.

Also, do you want more sheen? If yes, then consider satin paint. If you want easy application in low-traffic areas, flat paint is the best. Flat paint also helps hide imperfections and stains.

Can You Mix Satin Paint With Flat Paint?

Yes, you can mix satin paint with flat paint. You’ll end up with an intermediate sheen. That’s sheen close to the eggshell paint finish. However, the process is cumbersome and can lead to varied sheens if done wrongly.

First, you need a mechanical mixer. Mechanical mixers ensure efficient mixing as opposed to doing it manually. In the end, you want a consistent mixture for excellent results. The aim is to create a consistent mixture that gives an intermediate sheen.

However, if you don’t want to go through the trouble of mixing, you’re better with an eggshell finish that’s between a flat and satin. The eggshell will offer a small luster.

How To Make A Flat Paint Satin

If you want to make flat paint satin, you need to add a higher gloss paint to the flat paint. Making a flat paint satin creates a great combination of the two. You get better coverage and hide imperfections while having paint that is easier to clean.

To make flat satin, add a higher gloss paint to the flat paint. This creates an intermediate sheen giving you the benefits of both paints. However, mixing the two requires vigorous mixing.

Start mixing by having the flat paint at the base. Next, you can add the gloss paint gradually while mixing. You need to start small and continually add more gloss.

Keep stirring until you achieve a uniform mixture. Pour a small amount and test it on a surface to see the results. If the test is not good, add more sheen and continue mixing. Keep stirring and testing until you achieve the desired gloss level.

Remember, if not well mixed, the paint will cause streaks and variations.

Bottom Line

Well, that’s it from me! You now know the differences between satin and flat paint. The finish is the main difference between these two paints. Satin has a sheen finish while flat paint doesn’t. There are pros and cons to each paint finish.

If you’re unsure of the best, consider your purpose and choose the most suitable. They are both great paints that work in different situations. Satin is durable, easy to clean, and mixture resistant. However, it’s difficult to apply. Flat paint is easy to apply and offers good coverage but is difficult to clean and not very durable.

Randy Charles
Randy CharlesProfessional Painter

Hi, I’m Randy Charles, the creator and chief editor of this site Paintcentric. I’m a businessman now by profession, but I used to work as a painter earlier in my professional career. There is simply nothing about painting that I didn’t do as a painter. From painting a fridge to a multi-storied building, I left nothing. I retired from my painting job in the mid of 2018 due to back arthritis problems.

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