What is Satin Paint?

A woman painting a wall

Choosing your paint color might be the first thing you think of when you start a painting project, but what about its finish? Selecting the right sheen for your project is just as important, and satin is popular with professionals and do-it-yourselfers alike because it’s durable, versatile, and a good mid-point between flat paints and glossy ones. In addition, this easy-to-use paint dries quickly, cleans easily, and can be used almost anywhere. 

In low light, this paint finish appears smooth and velvety, with no shine. However, in bright light, satin’s luster is visible and eye-catching. But what exactly is satin paint? We’ll help you understand what makes this finish a top choice for so many, when to use it, and when other finishes may be a better choice.

Types of Sheens

A paint’s sheen refers to how much light the paint reflects. Satin is just one of many gloss or sheen levels that paint can have. Other popular finishes include matte, eggshell, and gloss. Paints with lower sheens, such as matte paint, reflect less light, while higher-sheen paints are shinier. Satin is a mid-sheen finish, which lies somewhere between matte and high gloss paint.

Gloss Rating of Satin Paint

Paint gloss is measured using Pigment Volume Concentration (PVC), which is the ratio of a paint pigment to its binders. Higher PVC numbers mean a flatter or less reflective paint. Paints with lower PVC numbers are more reflective or glossier. High PVC paints such as matte paint are typically preferred in areas where you want to hide imperfections.

Alternatively, low PVC paints are perfect for high-traffic areas due to their durability. Satin paint has a mid-range PVC rating of 30 to 40 percent. This gives it some added durability without resulting in a highly reflective finish.

Compare satin paint and its PVC rating to other types of paint using this simple chart.

Gloss TypePVC RangePVC Average

When to Use Satin Paint

Painter painting bathroom
Photo Credit: JodiJacobson / Canva Pro / License

Satin paint is preferable for surfaces where durability is a priority. High-traffic zones such as hallways, bathrooms, kitchens, kids’ rooms, and living rooms are perfect areas to use satin paint. Because of its easy-to-clean qualities, this paint works well in areas where messes are most likely to occur. 

Typically, satin paint works best on walls, but you can use it on trim instead of paint with a glossy finish if you prefer a less shiny finish. Satin paint is typically not recommended for ceilings, which are usually finished with flat paint but can work well on bathroom ceilings due to its moisture resistance. 

Pros and Cons of Satin Paint


  • Versatile and can be used on a broad range of surfaces
  • Tight pores make it easy to clean
  • Easier to apply and dries quicker than gloss paint
  • Moisture resistant
  • More durable than flat paint
  • Still reflects some light


  • Can be hard to touch up without noticeable flashing
  • Does not hide dents, cracks, or other imperfections
  • Less durable than gloss paint
  • More expensive per gallon than flat paint
  • Dries slower than flat paint
  • Does not reflect as much light as gloss


What is better, eggshell or satin paint?

Eggshell and satin paint have nearly the same PVC range, making both paints versatile and popular with homeowners. Satin paint delivers a higher gloss, better stain resistance, and superior durability than eggshell finish. However, eggshell paints have a nearly shine-free finish reminiscent of flat paint but with better durability and cleanability. 

If you prefer a slightly glossier paint or if durability is a top priority for you, satin paint is the clear choice. However, if you crave a shine-free finish that still holds up over time, eggshell is your best bet.

What is the most durable paint finish?

Glossier finishes are more durable than flat or matte finishes, making them very popular for use in kitchens and bathrooms. Semi-gloss paint or gloss finishes are easier to clean and can even withstand scrubbing. Additionally, gloss finishes are moisture-resistant and are a good choice for rooms where mold or mildew is a concern.

What paint hides imperfections best?

More reflective sheens will make imperfections more visible. To hide imperfections, select a finish that absorbs light such as flat paint. 

What paint gives the smoothest finish?

Eggshell paint has a low sheen and offers a smooth finish that is perfect for low to mid-traffic areas such as entryways, family rooms, and dining rooms.

Satin Satisfaction

Satin paint is perfect to use when you want a practical, versatile paint with a subtle shine. Its easy-to-clean and durable qualities make a satin finish a top choice for areas with high traffic or homes with children’s rooms. For the DIYer, this paint finish is easy to apply and dries quickly, making it a perfect choice for a satisfying weekend painting project.

If your weekends are reserved for downtime, we can connect you with a local professional who can get the job done right so you can sit back, relax, and enjoy your refreshed home.

Main Photo Credit: Ivan Samkov from Pexels / Canva Pro / License

Beck Carter

Beck is a creative writer from Central Texas. She graduated with an MFA in poetry from Texas State University. Beck enjoys martial arts, kayaking, and walking her wiener dog, Cookie.