Matte and Satin Wood Finishes: A Guide to Choosing the Perfect Finish

Matte Vs Satin Wood Finish

Are you in the market for the perfect wood finish but don’t know which to choose? You may be considering a matte vs satin wood finish. In this article, we will be examining the differences between the two, comparing their appearances, as well as looking at how they are applied, as well as the maintenance and associated costs involved. By the end of this article, you should have a better idea of which finish is right for your desires!

What’s the Difference Between Satin and Matte Wood Finish?

Wood finishes are an important part of the overall look and feel of a room and making the right selection can ensure that you have a beautiful and lasting space. One of the two main finishes to choose from is either a satin or matte finish, and understanding the differences between the two before making a decision can help you to create a space that works for your needs. This section will provide an overview of the differences between satin and matte wood finish, including their appearance, application and cost considerations. Whether you’re updating your existing interior or creating a new one, knowing the difference between satin and matte wood finishes is essential.

Overview of Satin

Satin wood finish is one of the most popular types of finishes for wooden furniture and cabinetry. It is characterized by its silky, smooth feel that offers high durability against scratches, smudges, and other types of wear-and-tear. It also has a very attractive luster which can bring out the natural beauty of wood grain.

The composition of a satin finish is typically an oil-based polyurethane blended with a resin and colorants. This provides a highly resistant layer on top of the wood, which can help maintain its appearance with minimal maintenance. Unlike other finishes, satin dries quickly, so it can be ready for use in just a few hours.

More than just being visually appealing, satin finishes offer another important advantage to those wanting to protect their surfaces: it is resistant to water, heat, and humidity, making it an ideal option for high-traffic areas such as kitchens and bathrooms. This makes it a great choice for homeowners who want a luxurious look without too much upkeep. Additionally, it is stain-resistant and can often be wiped clean with a damp cloth without damaging the finish.

Finally, its mid-range sheen also allows it to be paired with a wide range of colors and palettes, so it’s a great option for anyone looking for a unique look for their home.

Overview of Matte

Matte wood finish is a popular choice for many woodworking projects due to its ability to provide a smooth and subtle surface. In comparison to satin, matte offers a more refined look with no glare. It is well-suited for people who prefer a subdued tone.

This finish can be achieved by applying multiple coats of top coat and then smoothing the surface with a fine sandpaper to achieve the desired matte effect. It is specifically popularized by craftsmen and furniture makers, who appreciate its classic aesthetic and mid-century modern feel. The matte wood finish is also quite forgiving for dust and dirt, and can easily be wiped down with a rag.

Matte finish is generally more resistant to damage and wear unlike satin finish. But, this is also due to the fact that it does not reflect light and create depth by highlighting the grains. Furthermore, matte finish prevents it from showing up any dirt or residue that may settle on the surface over the time.

Making it ideal for high traffic rooms or even outdoor use, matte finish can also add a classic or contemporary style depending on the type of wood chosen. It is slightly more expensive than other coatings, however, since it requires multiple coats of sealant or finish to achieve the desired look.

In conclusion, matte wood finish is a great choice for people who prefer a muted and subdued tone. It is long-lasting, resists damage and wear, and can give any project the perfect classic or modern feel. Its cost may make it more expensive than other options, however, its longevity and overall aesthetic appeal make it well worth it.

Appearance Comparison

The most obvious difference between matte and satin wood finish is their relative sheen. Satin has more shine than matte, but not so much as to give it a glossy appearance. The sheen of a satin finish will depend on how it’s applied, with a brush, sponge or cloth all producing different results – the first two creating a higher shine.

Matte, on the other hand, has the least shine out of any wood finish. As a result, the wood grain and any other markings on the wood’s surface will be more visible. For example, knots and other imperfections can be more easily seen with a matte finish.

However, that isn’t to say that matte finish hides any of the wood’s character. A matt finish will still bring out the texture and nuances of the wood and make it stand out.

One bonus of darker woods and matte finishes is the ability to create a feeling of calm and sophistication. The lack of sheen and the deep colour of the finish can bring a great level of depth and interest to a piece of furniture.

To conclude, here is a list of differences between Satin and Matte Wood Finish:

• Satin has more shine than matte.
• The sheen of a satin finish can differ depending on how it’s applied.
• Matte has the least shine out of any wood finish, making wood grain and other markings more visible.
• Darker woods and matte finishes can create a feeling of calm and sophistication.
• Satin can give off more of a traditional feel.


When deciding between matte and satin wood finishes, you need to consider the application and maintenance requirements for each. Satin finishes, while more difficult to apply, offer superior protection. On the other hand, matte finishes are relatively easy to apply but they do not offer the same level of protection as satin finishes.

For application, satin finishes can be applied with a brush or cloth, a roller, or a sprayer. It typically requires two or three coats to achieve the desired finish. This can be time consuming and labor intensive, but it does offer superior protection for your wood flooring or furniture.

For matte finishes, you only require one coat. The application is much easier and less labor intensive than that of a satin finish. However, the protection you get from matte finishes is not as good as that of a satin.

In terms of maintenance, satin finishes require more frequent applications of wax to maintain the beautiful protective layer. Matte finishes generally require less regular waxing, and they are easier to touch up if needed.

Here are the key points to consider when choosing a finish that suits your needs:

  • Satin finishes provide superior protection but require more labor to apply.
  • Matte finishes are easier to apply but offer less protection.
  • Satin finishes require more frequent waxing to maintain the protective layer.
  • Matte finishes require less regular waxing and are easier to touch up.

Cost Considerations

For homeowners looking to renovate or repair their wooden furniture and fixtures, one of the biggest decisions they will have to make is choosing the appropriate stain, sheen, and finish. When it comes to the overall cost of a wood finish, the biggest factors to keep in mind are whether to use a satin or a matte finish, as they each have their own, unique cost considerations.

  • Satin finishes are more expensive than matte finishes because of their greater durability and the additives used to create them.
  • Satin finishes tend to be easier and faster to apply, so the laboring costs associated with them can be lower.
  • Matte finishes tend to be harder to apply and require multiple coats, increasing both the amount of materials and labor needed.
  • Matte finishes are less expensive but may need to be replaced more frequently, since they do not offer the same protection that a satin finish provides.
  • Both types of finish are vulnerable to general wear and tear, which can increase the overall costs associated with either type.

Though a matte finish is easier to apply and often more aesthetically pleasing, the long-term maintenance costs can be higher, as matte finishes tend to need to be replaced more often. On the other hand, a satin finish provides increased protection and durability, but the cost of application may be higher due to the need for additional material or labor. Ultimately, when it comes to the cost of a wood finish, the choice between satin and matte comes down to an individual’s budget and preferences, as well as the type of wood being worked with.


Devin B

Hi everyone! My name is Devin and I'm the author of this website about tips for woodturning and wood finishing. I'm an avid woodworker and have been doing it for over a decade. I'm constantly learning new techniques and experimenting with new materials and finishes.

I started my journey in woodworking when I was a teenager, making furniture for my bedroom and small projects for my family. As I got older, my interest in woodturning and wood finishing grew. I took classes on the subject and read books on the topic.

I'm passionate about woodturning and wood finishing because it allows me to express my creativity in a tangible way. I love the satisfaction of seeing a piece of wood that I have transformed from a block of raw material into a beautiful finished product.

I hope you find the tips and advice on this website helpful. If you have any questions or comments, please don't hesitate to contact me. I'm always happy to help out and share my experiences. Thanks for visiting my website!