Satin vs Flat Paint

You’re standing at the hardware store, you’ve chosen a paint color, and now, you’re left to choose a paint sheen.

If you’re anything like me, choosing the paint finish is almost as painful as deciding on a color.

The good news is, if you’ve narrowed your options to satin or flat paint, both are great for interiors. The most significant difference between them is the sheen.

Flat paint has no sheen and looks matte on the wall. This gives it a more accurate color but makes it harder to clean.

Satin paint has a slight sheen that’s easily wipeable.

Here’s what else you should know about satin vs. flat paint.

Satin vs Flat Paint: What’s the Difference?


Satin and flat paint are both suitable for many interior rooms. And while there are some differences between them, the one you select should come down to personal preference.

Here’s what to consider.


Most people choose paint based on the sheen they like the best. 

Flat paint has a matte finish – it has no sheen and looks very rich and saturated on the wall.

On the other hand, satin has a bit of a sheen to it. It’s much less glossy than a semi-gloss paint but shinier than eggshell or flat options.

So it’s a great meet-in-the-middle if you’re considering semi-gloss vs. flat paint.


The sheen on satin paint almost works like a protective shell. It makes the paint much more durable and stands up to wear and washings.

Flat paint is still durable, just not as much as satin.

Look and Coverage

When you choose flat paint, it will look very similar on the wall as it does on the paint chip. This is because flat paint is matte and doesn’t reflect light. 

Since satin paint has a bit of a sheen, it will look slightly different based on the lighting in the room.

As far as coverage goes, both flat and satin paint cover well. 

If you have a lot of dings on your wall that you don’t plan on fixing, flat paint is the way to go. Flat paint is excellent at concealing slight wall damage, while the sheen of satin will highlight it.


Even though many flat paints claim to be washable, they don’t always wash well. It’s hard to get crayons and scuff marks off flat paint without removing the paint itself.

But since satin paint has a bit of gloss, it’s incredibly easy to clean. 

If you’re painting a bathroom, kid’s room, or kitchen, a satin finish is the better choice. 

Pros and Cons of Satin vs Flat Paint

Here’s a quick look at the pros and cons of satin vs. flat paint to help you make an informed choice.

satin paint

Pros of satin paint:

  • Durable
  • Easy to clean
  • Mild gloss sheen

Cons of satin paint:

  • Not as accurate of color – will look different room to room
  • Highlights wall imperfections
flat paint

Pros of flat paint:

  • Excellent coverage and accurate color
  • Hides minor dings on the wall
  • Easy touch-ups
  • Matte sheen

Cons of flat paint:

  • Less durable – more prone to show signs of wear
  • Not easily cleanable

When to Use Satin Paint and When to Use Flat Paint

You can use a satin or matte paint in most rooms. Satin will work for every room, while flat paint is a good choice for spaces that don’t require frequent wall cleanings.

flat finish

Flat finishes are best for:

  • Bedrooms
  • Living rooms
  • Hallways
  • Offices
satin finish

Satin paint is best for:

  • High-traffic areas
  • Bedrooms
  • Living rooms
  • Hallways
  • Offices
  • Kitchens
  • Bathrooms

Final Thoughts

Both flat and satin are great interior paint choices. Flat paint will give a room a matte look and is the best choice for deep, rich pigments.

Satin paint has a low sheen and works for every room. If you’re painting a kitchen or bathroom, satin is the better choice.