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Question DetailsAsked on 10/31/2013

Which looks and feels better to the touch? Semi-gloss enamel paint or satin finish enamel paint?

We are painting extensive molding, doors and trim throughout our almost 2,500 square foot house. I do not like the feel of the the hand-painted satin finish that has been done thus far. It is NOT smooth to the touch. Do most people prefer semi-gloss enamel?

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2 Answers


Basically, the glossier the finish the easier it is to clean, but also the more it shows variations in surface oil or dirt - gloss was the standard for kitchens and baths before the 80's or so for easy cleaning, but once you scrub a section the gloss rubs off and gives a different appearance - so semi-gloss became more popular, and is still the norm for a lot of interior painting.

Satin was originally made popular as an alternative for exterior paints, where homeowners did not like the look for flat paint, which because ofthe lack of any surface gloss also held dirt too easy - so satins or low-gloss was developed to provide a more dirt-resistant and eaasily washable surface that looked newer for a longer time.

Today flat is generally only used a lot for ceilings that will not be washed - like textured surfaces. Most interior walls are either semi-gloss or satin/silk - satin is generally (depends on manufacturer and of course on the roller you use) a more "bumpy" or tetured surface, so does not show dirt and streaking as easily as the smoother semi-gloss and gloss. Silk is another version made by some manufaqcturers that still has a slight texcture to it but is usually applied with a smooth roller, so is less textured than satin. Generally, the more texxtured the paint (either by type of paint or type of roller), the less it shows dirt or oils (like palm and finger prints) and particularly the smoothing effects of spot washing.

Since you are doing a lot of painting, just get a trial sample (a few manufacturers offer them) or a quart of semi-gloss and put it on a test surface. Hopefully your paint has not all been bought for the job yet.

I can't say about "most" people liking semi-gloss or not - the paint manufacturer's association states satin is more popular than semi-gloss or gloss, but that is definitely biased by the amount of exterior satin paint sold, where most people prefer it over flat. BTW - you said semi-gloss enamel - most interior paint is not enamel - the most used products are latex or various forms of acrylic modified latexes - enamel is usually only used on frequently touched and washed surfaces in kitchens and sometimes baths, on doors and jams and trim to resist fingerprinting and fingernail gouging, and on cabinet painting where its greater adhesion and skin toughness is a distinct advantage over latex.

Definitely a personal preference thing - I happen to like satin or silk paint because it covers a multitude of minor sins left behind by drywallers who do not have the pride in work or skills of old-time plasterers in mudding and sanding a wall truly smooth, and an awful lot of do-it-yourselfers who are not expert at doing a truly smooth finish on drywall like it for the same reason.

Answered 6 years ago by LCD


Use semi-gloss paint for the trim, doors, and moulding. Satin finish is for walls. While you could intermix these, the paints should be used as I indicated. You must be able to touch the doors and trim anywhere in the house and be able to 'clean' the surfaces later. I promise you will be much happier with satin on walls and 'not' on trim, etc. Speak to a paint company like Porter, Sherwin Williams, Farrell Calhoun, to name a few.

Source: Personal Use many times.

Answered 5 years ago by DW

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