Picture this: you’re redoing the floors in your home. You’ve already found the perfect stain for your hardwood floors, but now you’re faced with another decision; you have to choose a sheen. Matte? Satin? Are they really that different? Does what I pick matter? Often, it can. That’s what makes the matte vs. satin finish hardwood floors debate so challenging to navigate.
For matte vs. satin finish hardwood floors, neither is technically better in all situations. While matte hardwood floors look more natural and hide imperfections like dents and scratches, satin hardwood floors do hide dirt, dust, and debris while adding a soft sheen, giving it an elegant touch.
Ultimately, the answer to the matte vs. satin finish hardwood floors debate is largely based on your priorities and preferences. If you’d like to learn more about how these two options stand apart, here’s what you need to know.
Contents (Jump to Topic)
- Matte vs Satin Finish Hardwood Floors: Key Points
- What Is Matte Finish on Hardwood Floors?
- Satin Finish Floors
- What’s the Difference Between Matte and Satin Finish Hardwood Floors?
- How to Clean Matte Finish Hardwood Floors
- How to Keep the Shine on Satin Finish Hardwood Floors
- Can You Make Matte Finish Hardwood Floors Shiny?
- Can You Make Satin Finish Hardwood Floors Matte?
- Which Is Better: Matte or Satin for Floor Finish?
Matte vs Satin Finish Hardwood Floors: Key Points
When you’re updating or refinishing your floors, you have to focus on more than just color; you also have to select a finish. Every finish has its unique benefits and drawbacks, so you’ll need to decide which sheen meets your broader needs and also gives you a look you enjoy.
As a starting point, it’s wise to get a quick idea of how the various options stand apart. Here’s a brief overview of matte vs. satin finish hardwood floors.
|Matte Finish||Satin Finish|
|Appearance||Intense color, no sheen||Strong color, gentle sheen|
|Durability||High durability, masks scuffs, scratches, dents, dirt, dust, and debris. However, oily spots may show up more on matte finishes due to low sheen level||Reasonable durability, hides dirt, dust, and debris well, along with oily spots, but may make scuffs, scratches, and dents more noticeable|
|Sheen||Little to no shine||Gentle glow|
|Maintenance||Low maintenance||Moderate maintenance|
|Feel||Relatively smooth||Smooth, bordering on slick|
|Best Uses||High-traffic areas, active households, homes with pets||Achieving a subtle elegance, darker spaces that benefit from extra light|
|Cost||Slightly lower than average||Around average|
What Is Matte Finish on Hardwood Floors?
On hardwood floors, a matte finish gives the wood a very natural appearance. There’s practically no sheen aside from what’s inherently created by the material. Since that’s the case, the final look is a bit on the dull side, reflecting as little light as possible.
A matte finish on hardwood floors can prevent the flooring from feeling overwhelming, as it isn’t bouncing much light. Additionally, it can be particularly well-suited to a rustic, industrial, or country-style aesthetic where a glossy finish might feel out of place.
There are also aesthetic benefits to a matte finish. The low sheen means that scuffs, scratches, and dents aren’t as visible since light into bouncing off of the surface to the same degree. It can also disguise dirt, dust, and debris, which may be beneficial for active households or homes with pets.
It is important to note that oily spots may stand out on matte floors. That’s because an oily splotch is typically shiny, causing it to stand out from the matte finish surrounding it.
It’s also critical to under that even though the finish itself allows the natural beauty of the wood to come through, the floors themselves aren’t rough. Instead, the matte finish does create a smooth surface, so you won’t necessarily have any extra challenges removing dirt and debris during cleanings.
- Low maintenance
- Hides imperfections
- Disguises dirt and debris
- Natural appearance
- May seem dull
- Might be too rustic for some
- Oily spots may show
Satin Finish Floors
Overall, satin hardwood floors are the most popular, mainly because they fall near the center of the sheen scale. They aren’t as glossy as gloss or semi-gloss finishes, both of which can be a bit intense. But a satin finish offers up a hint of shine, creating a gentle glow that you don’t get with matte or flat sheens.
With a satin finish, the hint of gloss reflects a bit of light, adding a touch of elegance or glam to a space while making a room seem brighter overall. It does disguise dust and dirt reasonably well, particularly when compared to glossier options.
However, satin flooring isn’t as great at hiding scratches and dents as matte finishes, as the light reflecting qualities can make the imperfections more noticeable. But it does disguise oily spots better than matte flooring, which could be beneficial in some households.
As one would expect, satin finish floors are smooth to the touch, potentially even a bit slick. As a result, cleaning up dirt and debris isn’t typically difficult with the right tools. However, there can be some challenges when it comes to maintaining the existing shine level, as satin finishes dull over time even with some intervention.
- Brightens spaces
- Feels more traditional
- Adds a touch of elegance
- Easy to clean
- Hides oily spots with greater ease
- Scratches and dents are more obvious
- Harder to maintain the original shine level
- May be a bit slick underfoot
What’s the Difference Between Matte and Satin Finish Hardwood Floors?
While both matte and satin finish hardwood floors are made with the same underlying material, the different finishes cause the two options to stand apart. Along with clear differences in the look of the flooring, each comes with unique benefits and drawbacks.
By understanding how matte vs. satin hardwood floors compare, it’s easier to choose an option that’s right for you. With that in mind, here’s an in-depth look at the differences.
When it comes to appearance, matte finish hardwood floors have very little shine. As a result, it’s far easier to see the underlying wood color and texture as light bouncing off of the surface isn’t a distraction.
Since the look is also more natural, it gives the flooring a rustic, industrial, or country-style aesthetic. Matte finish floors can also feel incredibly modern and more appropriate in minimalist homes where extra shine may be overwhelming.
Satin finish hardwood floors are a bit more traditional. The sheen gives the space a subtle elegance, but the shine isn’t so dramatic as to make it seem inappropriate in most homes.
However, the extra bit of gloss you get with a satin finish can detract from the look of the wood, both the color and texture. As a result, it may alter the overall look of the room a bit.
Overall, both satin and matte finish hardwood floors are reasonably durable, mainly because the underlying material is designed to stand the test of time. However, matte finishes usually do better than their satin counterparts.
Whenever there’s a sheen, scratches are more noticeable than if the finish is flatter. Since that’s the case, matte floors may maintain their look longer than satin ones simply because there’s less shine. While the problem can be overcome with maintenance, that means satin flooring often takes more work in the long run.
The sheen is the main difference between matte vs. satin finish hardwood floors. While matte hardwood floors aren’t shine-free, the amount of sheen is only barely noticeable. Often, that causes these floors to take on a natural – or even dull – finish.
With satin, there’s a gentle glow created by the hint of gloss. While it isn’t a mirror-like finish, the sheen is noticeable, particularly in spaces that get an ample amount of light. In some cases, that means the shine on satin flooring can overwhelm a space. However, it can also brighten darker rooms, which may be beneficial.
When it comes to maintenance, both matte and satin hardwood floors are reasonable in most cases. However, satin does take more work by comparison. If you don’t maintain the shine, it can dull over time. Additionally, since dirt, debris, dents, and scratches are more noticeable, you may want to take action more regularly to maintain the original look.
Matte hardwood floors are far better at disguising imperfections. As a result, you may not need to maintain the floors as often, simply because any issues aren’t clearly visible. They also hide dirt and dust, making cleaning feel like less of an everyday chore. However, oily spots will show on matte flooring, so that could up the maintenance requirements in some households.
Both satin and matte finish hardwood floors have a smooth overall feel. However, the extra sheen on satin flooring could make it feel just a bit slick. Again, it isn’t to the same degree as semi-gloss or gloss finishes, but it’s often noticeable if you’re comparing the feel of matte and satin finishes directly.
Whether satin flooring being a little slick is a problem may depend on your household members. If there are people with mobility issues, small children, individuals with certain physical injuries, or pets, a less slick floor may be preferred. However, the difference between these two options may be nominal, so keep that in mind.
Overall, matte finish hardwood floors are best for high-traffic areas in active households, particularly those with pets or even small children. Primarily, that’s because a matte finish disguises scratches, dents, and dings, as well as dirt and debris. That means damage caused by pets or children won’t be as noticeable if it occurs.
For satin finish hardwood floors, those are best when you want to add a touch of elegance without the drawbacks of a high-sheen finish. For example, while they aren’t as good at hiding dents and scratches as matte hardwood finishes, satin is far better at it than gloss and semi-gloss.
Additionally, satin finish hardwood floors can be an excellent choice in darker spaces that could benefit from some extra light. The reflective quality can brighten a room visually, something you don’t get as much of with matte finish flooring.
From the cost perspective, matte finish hardwood floors are usually a bit less expensive than satin. Mainly, this is because higher amounts of shine generally come with bigger price tags.
However, the difference is more noticeable as you reach the higher sheen levels, such as semi-gloss and gloss. Since satin is a mid-level sheen, the price difference of matte vs. satin finish hardwoods is far less dramatic, which may make it a non-issue for many homeowners.
How to Clean Matte Finish Hardwood Floors
Cleaning matte finish hardwood floors isn’t overly difficult, particularly if they are sealed with wax or polyurethane. As long as one of those coatings is in place, the floors have some water resistance, giving you more options for cleaning.
One of the most important steps for cleaning matte wood flooring is to simply avoid cleaners designed to create or restore shine. With those, while the extra touch of glossiness isn’t necessarily permanent, it does potentially alter the look of your flooring.
If you want to simplify cleaning, consider starting with a vacuum that is designed with hardwood floors in mind. Choosing a version with a microfiber pad instead of bristles is often wise, as there won’t be stiff bristles dragging across the floor.
After that, it’s time to mop if you have a sealed floor. Make sure any mop you use is damp instead of dripping, as that prevents excess water from ending up on your floors.
When it comes to what to mop with, plain water and a soft mop are often enough. However, if you’re dealing with build-up, you could try adding a few drops of gentle, ammonia-free liquid dish soap to a bucket of warm water, as that will give the solution some oil and grime fighting power.
Otherwise, see whether the flooring or finish manufacturer recommends any particular cleaner, especially if your flooring isn’t sealed. You can also shop around for cleansers designed for hardwood floors, either sealed or unsealed. Just make sure they are made with matte finishes in mind to avoid an unintentional change to the sheen.
How to Keep the Shine on Satin Finish Hardwood Floors
For satin finish hardwood floors, the cleaning process is very similar to what’s outlined above. However, you’re far less likely to run into unsealed floors in this case, as it’s usually a wax or polyurethane that creates the desired level of shine.
With satin flooring, it’s also even more important to choose a vacuum that doesn’t use stiff bristles. Since scratches are more noticeable on satin finish floors, you want to reduce the odds of creating any during the cleaning process, so staying away from rougher textures is wise.
Beyond that, a bucket of warm water with a few drops of ammonia-free dish soap mixed in can be very effective for removing any other dirt and grime. However, if your shine is getting a bit dull, you may want to try an alternative option.
First, you can review the manufacturer’s recommendations to see if there is a specific wood floor cleaner it believes is the best option. Second, you can look for satin finish floor cleaners from reputable brands.
There are wood floor restorers and polishers created with satin finishes in mind, allowing you to restore that gentle glow. Before you select one, check the instructions to see the amount of work involved. While some may be a simple mop-on product, others may require rinses or buffing after the cleaner dries. By reviewing the requirements in advance, you’ll know what you need to do to get the shine back.
Before you mop, make sure your mop is soft, preventing it from accidentally scratching the surface. Additionally, always aim for a damp – but not dripping wet – mop to ensure excess water doesn’t end up on your flooring.
Can You Make Matte Finish Hardwood Floors Shiny?
In many cases, you can make a matte finish hardwood floor shinier than it was initially. By going with a wood floor restorer or polish that has a stronger sheen, you can add a thin coating that reflects more light.
However, before moving forward, you need to find out whether the existing finish is polyurethane, paste wax, or natural wood. Start by putting a single drop of water on the flooring. If it beads, the hardwood is sealed. If it absorbs, it isn’t sealed.
For sealed floors, take a piece of fine steel wool. Choose an inconspicuous spot, such as in a corner, and lightly rub the steel wool across the flooring. If you see gray, waxy debris in the steel wool, it’s a paste wax finish. If not, then it’s like polyurethane.
Once you know that, you can choose a floor polish that’s designed to work well with your finish type, allowing you to adjust the sheen with ease. Just make sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions. Some polishes work pretty well just being brushed on, while others may require a bit of buffing with a microfiber cloth to achieve a nice shine.
Otherwise, your best bet may be to refinish the floor. That’s particularly true if you’re struggling with scratches or dents, as the refinish can give you a smooth starting surface while letting you select a new sheen.
Can You Make Satin Finish Hardwood Floors Matte?
If you want to make a satin finish hardwood floor matte, you generally have two options. First, you can take steps to functionally dull the finish.
Certain waxes or polyurethane sealants allow you to achieve a matte finish and may be worth considering if you’re looking for a somewhat fast solution. As with floor cleaners, you need to choose an approach that’s compatible with your existing finish. Otherwise, the wax or polyurethane may not bond correctly, creating an uneven look or a bit of a mess.
Once you find an option, you also need to follow the manufacturer’s directions. Failing to do so can lead to poor results, including a cloudy look instead of a matte finish.
If you’re not dealing with prefinished floors, buffing may also allow you to dull the finish. Essentially, you’ll lightly scuff the existing surface, leaving a final appearance that’s closer to a matte flooring.
Otherwise, you’ll want to explore refinishing the floors. By stripping away the satin finish, you have a clean slate, allowing you to apply a new finish without having to struggle with what’s already in place.
Which Is Better: Matte or Satin for Floor Finish?
Ultimately, both matte and satin floor finishes have their merits, but there are also drawbacks to consider. If you want to reduce your maintenance needs or have an active home with children or pets, matte may be your better bet. If you prefer a traditional look and want to brighten up the space, then satin could be right up your alley. It’s really about your needs and preferences.
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