Satin or Semi Gloss for Trim and Doors: What’s Better?

By MWB-Team •  Updated: 05/22/23 • 

There are several things you need to consider before choosing a paint sheen for your trim and doors. If you’re painting your home or having it repainted, satin and semi-gloss are two popular options used for painting trim and doors.

These two look close enough, but they still have some differences. In this article, we’ll review their differences to help you choose the best option for your trim and doors.

Satin vs. Semi-Gloss

Appearance & Texture

Satin and semi-gloss paint sheens are very close in appearance. Both have a hint of sheen, but semi-gloss is slightly shinner and will reflect light more. The higher reflectivity of semi-gloss tends to reveal surface imperfections when used on larger surfaces like walls. However, semi-gloss enhances the look and calls for attention to small-trim work.

While semi-gloss has more sheen, satin has a smoother texture and is more forgiving of little imperfections like dents and dings. Satin absorbs more light than semi-gloss, thus tricking your eyes into seeing an even surface. If you want to hide faults on your trim work or door, satin is a better choice for you.

Durability & Maintenance

The higher the paint gloss, the more durable it is and easier to maintain. In this case, semi-gloss paint will be more durable than satin paint. This is one of the reasons semi-gloss is great for trim, like baseboards, doors, and other surfaces that see a lot of wear and frequent scrubbing.

However, satin is also durable and good for surfaces that require a lot of wear. Choosing between both will depend on the traffic or the people in your home. If you have toddlers and children, semi-gloss is better. For minimal activity, satin is the best.

When it comes to maintenance, semi-gloss finishes are better, and easier to clean up messes like smudges, fingerprints, and other minor stains. This makes it better for use on trims that get lots of contact, like window and door trims. Doors also get more contact action, so semi-gloss is better for them.

Which Should You Use on Trim and Doors?

Semi-gloss is a better sheen for trims and doors because both surfaces are likely to get more traffic. Semi-gloss is more durable, accentuates trims and doors, and you can easily wipe stains and other dirt. However satin is still a popular option for most homeowners, but it generally looks better on ceilings and walls.

Overall, if I was to choose between these two sheens, I would go for semi-gloss over satin for trims and doors. You can also check out our guide on satin vs. semi-gloss for kitchen cabinets or our ultimate guide on matte vs. satin vs. gloss.


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