Hardwood Floor Sheen Comparison: The Differences Between Matte, Satin, Semi-Gloss, and Glossy Finish

Hardwood Floor Sheen Comparison: The Differences Between Matte, Satin, Semi-Gloss, and Glossy

When installing or refinishing hardwood floors, homeowners or commercial owners have the opportunity to pick a style and a color that works best for them. But a lot of clients don’t give that much thought to how shiny or matte they’d like their new hardwood flooring to be. That’s where a professional opinion comes in. As an expert on all things hardwood flooring, you can advise your client on the options available to them, their benefits and disadvantages, and recommend the best products for the job. 

When it comes to hardwood flooring coloring and sheen levels, it all boils down to preference. At First Atlanta Flooring, we know that some clients prefer a more rugged, subdued, matte look to their hardwood floors, while others will tell you that the shinier, the better. It’s important, of course, that the look of the hardwood flooring matches the space it’s being installed in, but other, more practical factors must also be taken into consideration, like the differences between water-based and oil-based finishes

The climate and humidity, the level of foot traffic, the presence of pets, heavy furniture, and small children, and last but not least, the cost – these are all things that will influence the final look of the hardwood flooring. Some types of wood are tougher and can withstand heavy foot traffic, while others are softer and more prone to scratches, dents, and other damage. So, when it comes to picking the level of sheen for a client’s hardwood flooring, both practicality and personal preference will come into play. But if a client wants to know more details on the differences between hardwood floor sheen levels, here’s what they need to know.

Matte finish 

Matte finishes are ideal for high-traffic areas like offices, living rooms, dining rooms, and common areas. It’s a highly sought-after, modern-looking, elegant finish, especially when applied over a darker-colored hardwood floor. It’s also very trendy nowadays, and a perfect fit for a client who wants a minimalistic, Scandinavian-inspired look to their hardwood floors. Maintenance is straightforward and easily done with a soft broom or mop and a special hardwood-friendly cleaner, like the Bona Pro Series hardwood cleaner. 

A big advantage of the matte finish is that it masks scratches and stains very well, so it’s a great choice if the client has pets or small children or if the hardwood flooring is installed in a high-traffic area. However, for some clients, a matte finish can seem too dull and flat, and they might be looking for a bit more shine to their floors. 

Satin finish 

Satin is the most popular type of finish when it comes to hardwood flooring, because it’s not fully matte, but it’s also not very shiny, either. It’s a subtle upgrade from a matte finish, for clients who want a bit more sheen to their floors. 

A satin finish provides the hardwood planks a clean, soft, slightly shiny look, and it’s just as easy to clean and maintain as the matte finish. It doesn’t reflect much light, so it’s still quite matte in appearance, with just a little bit of added sheen. It’s basically the best of both worlds, giving the hardwood flooring a youthful and slightly shiny appearance, while still masking dirt and scratches on the wood’s surface. Satin is also incredibly durable and has a longer lifespan than shinier options like semi-gloss or glossy. 

Semi-gloss finish

Another highly popular finishing option for homeowners and commercial owners alike is semi-gloss. This type of finish has a higher sheen than the satin finish, and reflects more light, boasting a glossy look, but not overly glossy. If a client prefers a high shine, high gloss look to their hardwood flooring, then semi-gloss is the perfect choice. 

The downside is that it doesn’t mask imperfections as well as matte or satin finishes, and consequently it’s not the best choice for high-traffic areas, because it will highlight any dust, dirt, or scratches in the surface of the wood. Your client should be aware of these downsides, but in the end, if they love the shinier look that a semi-gloss finish offers, then you can recommend some suitable cleaning products and advise them on how to protect the wood with rugs or carpets. 

Glossy finish

The shiniest, glossiest type of finish available on the market today is what is known as a glossy finish. It’s not commonly used in residential spaces and homes, because it’s hard to clean and requires a lot of care and maintenance. Not to mention the fact that a glossy finish will highlight any stain, spill, scratch, mark, dent, or imperfection. Footprints and fingerprints are also extremely visible on glossy wood floors, making it quite unsightly for homeowners. 

Because of these reasons, glossy finishes are usually reserved for gym floors, bowling alleys, sports venues, and other commercial spaces where cleaning and refinishing is done regularly. It’s not a suitable option for a home, so if your client is looking for a high-shine, glossy look to their hardwood floors, it’s better to recommend a semi-gloss or high-gloss finish that can mask imperfections a little better. 

If you’re looking for the right products for your next hardwood flooring project, or have any questions or inquiries about our products and services, feel free to reach out to First Atlanta Flooring and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.