Satin vs Semi-Gloss Cabinets: Which is Better?

Kitchen Cabinets

When it comes to cabinets, there are a few different finishes that you can choose from. Two of the more popular options are satin and semi-gloss. And in a world where matte black and white are all the rage, it can be tough to decide whether to choose satin or semi-gloss cabinets for your home. Both finishes have their own unique benefits and drawbacks, so deciding which is right for you can be tricky. Satin cabinets are perfect if you want a low-key look that still stands out. They’re ideal for spaces that need a very clean, sleek appearance. On the other hand, semi-gloss cabinets are more versatile, making them a great choice for spaces that need a unique touch. Let’s take a closer look at both finishes so that you can make a decision informed by your specific needs.

1. Material

The first thing you’ll notice about satin and semi-gloss cabinets is that they’re made from different materials. Satin cabinets are made from plywood, which makes them incredibly sturdy. An added benefit of this material is that it doesn’t look cheap. If you have high-end kitchen appliances or accessories, a satin finish can complement them beautifully. Semi-gloss cabinets are made from chipboard, which is similar to plywood but with a slightly different texture. Chipboard is generally cheaper than plywood, which is why semi-gloss cabinets are usually the least expensive option. Still, this does not mean that they look cheap. In fact, many people find that chipboard has a more rustic feel that can complement certain styles.

2. Style

The material used in satin and semi-gloss cabinets also determines their style. For instance, satin cabinets have a sleek appearance that’s perfect if you want a modern look. They’re great for kitchens, baths, and other rooms that need a clean finish without being too shiny. On the other hand, semi-gloss cabinets have a more rustic style that’s perfect for spaces with a country vibe. The difference in style is most noticeable if you compare satin and semi-gloss cabinets side by side.

3. Appearance

A semi-gloss finish has a slightly softer appearance than satin cabinets. For this reason, it’s the preferred option if you want to achieve a high level of depth in your design. Semi-gloss cabinets are also much easier to clean than satin cabinets are since they’re made from a more porous material.

4. Texture

The texture of a semi-gloss finish is more vibrant than that of a satin finish. This makes semi-gloss cabinets an excellent choice for spaces with either dark or light colors. Satin cabinets also tend to look duller in comparison, which means they’re less suited for spaces with striking color schemes. If you have a light space, you’ll probably be happier with the semi-gloss finish.

5. Durability

Since satin cabinets are made from plywood, they’re much sturdier than semi-gloss cabinets. This makes them ideal for spaces that need a super durable surface like the kitchen or bathroom. If you have kids or pets, satin is also a better option since it’s pretty resistant to scratches. A semi-gloss finish can be damaged more easily than a satin finish is.

Satin cabinets


  • Super sturdy
  • Durable
  • Low maintenance
  • Adds depth to a space
  • Can be used in the kitchen, bathroom, or other spaces with high traffic


  • More expensive than semi-gloss cabinets
  • Not as versatile as semi-gloss cabinets
  • Can look cheap if not treated or installed.

Semi-Gloss Cabinets


  • Cleaner look than satin cabinets
  • Sharper and much easier to clean
  • Great for spaces with lots of light
  • Can be used in many different areas of your home as an island or beside the window


  • Less durable than satin cabinets
  • Not great for high traffic places like the kitchen or bathroom
  • Can be damaged easily in places where it can see the light of day

Generally, according to the Hunker, Satin cabinets are perfect if you want a clean, sleek look that stands out. Semi-gloss cabinets may not be as durable as satin, but they’re also a lot softer and easier to maintain.

So, which one is better?

Well, it all depends on your needs and preferences, according to SFGATE. If you have a light space or want your cabinets to reflect light well, choose semi-gloss. Semi-gloss cabinets are also great if you want your design to pop in contrast with the surrounding colors. If your design is more modern, choose satin. If your space has a rustic look or even more than one bold color scheme, go for semi-gloss. Also, keep in mind that if you want your cabinets to stand out, a satin finish can be a perfect choice. Semi-gloss cabinets are more versatile and can complement different styles, but they aren’t as popular as some of their other counterparts (like matte black and white). While satin cabinets have a distinct look that can be eye-catching if you’re looking for something unique, semi-gloss is the more common choice for kitchens, according to Artra Journal.

Bottom line

When you’re choosing what finish for your cabinets, it’s important to consider your preferences and needs. If you want a clean, sleek look that’s not too shiny, the semi-gloss finish is perfect for you. Semi-gloss cabinets are also more versatile, making them a great choice for design with multiple color palettes and unusual schemes. Satin cabinets are better suited if you want a low-key look that still stands out. If you have a light space, a semi-gloss finish can be highly reflective and make your room look unbalanced. If you’re working with a clean, modern style, satin cabinets add depth and bring your design together. Overall, both finishes are great options for kitchens, bathrooms, and other areas of high traffic. As long as you choose the right material for your cabinets, you can achieve the look that fits your design.

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