What Is the Difference Between Matte & Satin?

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Selecting a paint colour can be a difficult process, and the choices don't end there. The paint's finish or sheen determines whether it's suitable for use in certain rooms, as well as the color's level of cost, coverage and durability.

Satin paint's slight extra sheen makes a big difference when choosing between it and matt paint.


The main difference between matt and satin paint is the amount of sheen, or the light reflected by each paint. Depending on the manufacturer, matt may also be called flat or velvet. It has very little sheen or shine. Satin paint has slightly more sheen than matt. It's also sometimes called eggshell or pearl. It's not as highly reflective as semigloss, gloss or high gloss paint.


Because it has little gloss to protect against fingerprints, smudges and dirt, matt paint gets dirty easily and isn't easy to clean. Some marks may have to be covered over with touch-up paint. Satin paint, with a little more gloss, is easier to clean. A damp cloth will wipe away most marks. It's also less susceptible to marks because the sheen offers a little extra protection.


Matt paint is not as durable as satin. It requires more touch-ups during its lifetime due to nicks and scrapes. It also fades and shows signs of ageing sooner than satin paint does. A wall painted with satin won't need to be repainted as often and won't require as many touch-ups. On the other hand, touch-ups and fresh coats of matt paint blend better with the existing coat, meaning part of a wall or an area can be repainted to match the rest of the room.


Because it doesn't have any sheen, matt paint hides imperfections in a wall or other surface extremely well. Satin paint may highlight problems with a wall--such as patched holes, drywall tape or an uneven texture--because of the way light reflects off its surface.


Matt paint provides better coverage than its satin counterpart. In most cases, matt paint provides full coverage in two coats or less. Satin paint often requires three coats for full, even coverage.


Matt paint is typically less expensive than satin. In addition, since fewer coats are needed, fewer gallons are needed, for an even greater cost savings. In the long run, however, it's important to consider how often touch-ups and fresh coats of paint will be required when calculating the cost.


Matt paint isn't suitable for all applications. Because it's not easy to wash, it's not the right type of paint for a kitchen. It's also damaged by moisture, making it unsuitable for use in a bathroom. Satin paint can be used in any room in the house, including the kitchen or bathroom.