Can You Paint Over Semigloss with Satin?

Semigloss and satin are two types of paint finish. Semigloss is shiny and is used for bathrooms. Although semigloss is highly durable, it can look dated, which is why you may be wondering if you can paint over it with satin paint.

The trouble with painting over shinier paints such as semigloss is that often more matte finishes do not stick well to the surface. You need to go through a multistep preparation process, and even then, sometimes, the shininess of the old layer will peep through.

Since satin is only slightly more matte than semigloss, it is a convenient choice for creating a more subdued finish without going to a lot of trouble. You can easily paint satin over semigloss.

What Is the Difference Between Satin and Semigloss?

Semigloss paint is the second-shiniest type of paint, only second to high-gloss paint. Satin is in the middle of the spectrum. It is shinier than matte or eggshell but not as glossy as semigloss or high-gloss paint.

Satin splits the difference between flat and shiny paints. It provides a bit of a sheen without being as intrusive as glossier paints.

Do You Need to Sand Semigloss Before Painting?

Semigloss is not just different in its appearance but also its texture. It is shinier and harder, meaning that most substances roll straight off of the top layer. This includes fresh coats of paint, which do not have anything to stick to on smooth walls painted with semigloss paint.

Most guides to painting over semigloss paint call for sanding, which gives the fresh layer of paint a rough layer to adhere to. You can sand before painting with satin as well. You need to go over the wall gently to create a bit of texture. Be sure to wipe down the wall afterward to get rid of the sand particles.

However, if you cannot sand the wall, there is another way to prepare the wall before painting with satin. Mix a solution of one-part ammonia to two parts warm water. Wipe down the walls to get rid of grease buildup and the top layer of the paint. Let the walls dry, then rinse with clean water and another rag.

How to Choose the Right Satin Paint

For best results, ensure that the satin paint has the same base as the existing semigloss paint. If the paint on the wall is water-based, choose a water-based satin paint and vice versa. If you can’t remember which type of paint you used on the wall, touch a piece of cotton soaked in rubbing alcohol to the wall. If the color comes off, the paint is water-based. If it is unaffected, you have oil-based semigloss paint.

If you are trying to avoid sanding or prepping the wall, choose a shade of satin that is similar to the existing paint. This will make it easier to cover up the old paint.


One of the easiest ways to cover up semigloss paint is with satin, which is glossy enough to match the old layer but flat enough to cover up some flaws. You don’t even need to sand the old layer of paint; you must wash it thoroughly. For best results, choose a satin paint similar to the old layer in color and chemical composition.

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