There are a lot of things to consider when it comes to painting your kitchen cabinets. What will your kitchen cabinets appear like? What kind of fittings do you want? Do you want latex-based paint or oil-based paint?

Besides all these design choices, you must consider a paint job for your cabinet doors work.

Though you might think the hardest painting decision is color selection, actually it could determine the finish, which means the shine or sheen of the surface as the paint dries.
Paint finishes are available in matte/flat, satin, eggshell, high gloss, and semi-gloss, and each one of them is suitable for specified projects. The prospective painters get stuck on the slight differences between semi-gloss and satin.

For a wide variety of applications, satin and semi-gloss are excellent choices, but making the right decision among the two subtly different finishes requires knowing the positive and negative attributes of both.

In this article, we will get into a detailed comparison between the two finishes and which one is better.

Which one is better? Satin or Semi-Gloss

What is a Satin Finish?

It gives a mild glossy look that is described often as velvety as it gives enough light to give the walls a subtle touch. The slight matte matte-like attributes still let the paint be like the color you have chosen, as it won’t be affected promptly by the gleam of the light.

In such cases, it is same and sometimes confused with the eggshell paint as they both reflect light gently without looking too shiny.


Commonly used as it can absorb lightReflectiveness increases leading to scratches, bumps, and dents
Hides imperfections Fairly susceptible to moisture
Great to use in busy areas
Durable and easy to clean
Resists stains and scuffs
It is commonly used in the US as an interior paint finish

What is a Semigloss finish?

As compared to satin, semi gloss is a bit shinier. Semi-gloss has a constant luster whereas satin finishes look somewhat velvety. This level of gloss might look good and appealing to the eyes.

The appearance is not right for every project, as it makes it harder to enjoy the base color.


Resistant to scratches, smudges, and even dents. The dents scratches and dings are visible because of the reflection of light
Durable even in rushy areas Little less DIY-friendly
Water and mildew resistantTouch-ups are rarely needed. 
Can be cleaned easily without damage
Withstand steamy cooking or hot showers

Satin vs Semi Gloss Cabinets

1. Durability

Generally, kitchen cabinets need to be painted by using durable paints that can tolerate smoke, oils, spills, scratches, and grease. While in high traffic areas, satin finishes seem to be quite durable, however, they are not as versatile and durable as semi-gloss against mold and mildew.

The cabinets with semi gloss paints do better in high moisture environments.

2. Finish

The finish means the shine of the surface that is left after drying of the paint. As compared to satin, semi-gloss finishes have a glossier shine which can be more noticeable.

On the other hand, satin finishes have a mildly glossy finish which is similar to eggshell finishes. Generally, glossier finishes reflect more light, making the surface of the semi-gloss more imperfect like it has dents, dings, and scratches.

3. Appearance and Application

It is quite easy to apply both satin and semi-gloss paints. Semi-gloss paints, however, seem to amplify the imperfections of the surface, so cabinets that are not sanded properly might show unwanted flaws.

Moreover, a semi-gloss finish will show the strokes of the brush easier as compared to satin finishes. With semi-gloss paint, you should use even-brush strokes and light coats, opposed to one thick coat.

As compared to flat or eggshell paint, satin paint generally has more sheen. However, the finish is related closely to flat paint as compared with glossy.

Semi-gloss has more shine as compared to satin as it reflects a lot of light. Semi-gloss paint color looks brighter and deeper than the same colors with a satin finish.

4. Cleaning and Touch-Up

To increase their durability, both satin and semi-gloss need cleaning and touching up every off and then.

There is an extra protective coat in case of semi-gloss paint making stain cleaning much easier. Satin paints are easier to work with when it comes to touching up.

As semigloss paints have more reflection of light, making stain cleaning much easier. Satin paints are easier to work with when it comes to touching up.

Best Rooms to use satin-finish

For satin finish, paints, overall living rooms, hallways, family rooms, and dining rooms are the best option as these rooms are frequently used and work best with durable paint.
While satin-paints are reasonably tough and can be fairly cleaned. The paint is not suitable for moisture-exposed rooms.

For that reason, it should be avoided in bathrooms with a shower and a tub.
Satin paint is a better choice for kitchens, however, if your kitchen gets humid, wet, or messy, opt for something glossy. If you want a rich dark hue, go for a satin finish.

Best Rooms to use a semi-gloss finish

Use this paint on anything that often gets touched. This includes rooms with high traffic like living rooms, hallways, entryways, window frames, doors, cabinets, and other types of molding.

The mildew and water-resistant property of this paint is best for areas that need regular cleaning and are exposed to moisture on a regular basis like laundry rooms, kitchens, and bathrooms.

The Bottom Line

Both the semi gloss and satin paints fit your budget when it comes to painting kitchen cabinets. However, considering the small differences of satin vs semi gloss cabinets mentioned can help you make a decision according to your desire and daily use.

Editorial Team
The Spadone Home Editorial Team consists of seasoned professionals with extensive knowledge and experience in the domains of Home, Interior Design, Renovation, and Exterior Improvement. Our dedicated team of writers and researchers is committed to delivering well researched content that offers insightful solutions to your home-related inquiries. At Spadone Home, we understand the importance of a well-maintained and aesthetically pleasing home. Our mission is to provide you with practical, step-by-step guidance and expert insights to enhance your living space. Whether you're seeking DIY projects, product recommendations for your house, or interior and exterior design inspiration, our team is here to empower you with the knowledge and advice you need to make your house truly exceptional.