Satin Sheen on Hardwood Floors is the Best Choice

Steller Hardwood Flooring with chair

When you’re considering a sheen for hardwood floors, the best choice is easy: Satin

Polyurethane is the gold standard among hardwood floor finishes because it is resilient and beautiful in equal measure. But what is the best choice of sheen for a hardwood floor? To us, the Steller choice is Satin.

Here at Steller Floors, our factory-applied finishes are all satin, and here’s why satin sheen on hardwood floors is the best choice:

  • Satin finishes work within any design style
  • Satin polyurethane finishes are easy to clean
  • Satin sheen is durable and disguises scuffs in active spaces

What are the options for sheen in Polyurethane?




Matte/Flat– One of the main reasons for selecting a Flat finish is so that your new hardwood floor will appear more natural, even if you have selected to have your new floor stained. Along with this matte finish you do not have the light bounce back as with a glossier finish and you will see the grain clearly in all light settings. For this reason it does hide some imperfections, abut it also dulls the light and can appear dusty quickly.

Satin – Similar to a semigloss finish, satin helps in masking marks such as scuffs and/or scratches as easily. Satin finish is fairly neutral and works well with most wood species and colors, including water based stains. A satin finish has roughly 35-40% luster and it does not require a lot of maintenance, which makes it great for both traditional and more modern design. The balance of beauty and resilience make Satin an excellent choice for flooring finish.

Semi-gloss – This finish has a higher luster than its counterparts Flat and Satin finishes, which means more light reflects off of your floors, giving you a more formal feel. Semigloss finishes dramatically increase the amount of light reflected in a room which can make rooms feel brighter if they have few windows, if it is night time, or if the colors of the room are quite dark. A Semi-gloss finish can sometimes show scratches a little more and make a room feel somewhat dated since this sheen was very popular between 1990 and 2010.

How are different flooring finishes made?

When polyurethanes are created in the factory, all urethanes are originally completely clear and exceptionally glossy, like glass. When the polyurethane cures on the surface of wood, the color of the flooring will show directly through the finish, and the lights in the room will be reflected accurately. Just like a mirror, that means that the shape of the light (and sometimes the light bulb) will be directly visible on the surface of the floor. If the light is bright enough, the reflection might hurt your eyes! When a scratch or scuff is made in this material, it is quite obvious because the reflective pattern of the light is interrupted by the change in the density of the finish coat.

In order to reduce the bright glare of light’s reflection in the floor, manufacturers add dulling agents that increase the refractive capacity of the polyurethane material. Most often these are silicates like silica sand. There additives are not harmful to humans, as they are almost like glass and are quite fine, and they reduce light’s ability to escape the finish. The increased diffusion of the light that is reflected in the finish of your floor reduces your ability to see differences in reflection due to scratches and scuffs in the finish material.

What happens when you choose the wrong sheen?

In our experience, we have seen flooring sheens go very wrong and it makes finding a balance essential. For example, homeowners who want a bright, vibrant floor might choose a glossy sheen, only to find that any wear and tear dulls walking paths and leads to shorter times between refinishing. In other cases, flat finish in summer may feel cool and relaxed, but during the winter, increased cloud cover makes floors appear dusty even when they are clean. On the balance, satin sheen on hardwood floors is the best balance between making a hardwood floor appear lively and reducing the impact of normal wear and tear.

What is the Steller Choice in flooring finish?

Our goal at Steller is to provide the best possible flooring products available, and that’s why we always choose a Satin finish. Satin is the best balance between reflecting light in a room and reducing the appearance of wear and tear. It is great for spaces with active use and pets, and it is easy to clean. The shine does not appear overly reflective or dated. And even though a flatter sheen may hide more marks, a Steller Floor is easy enough to install, repair or replace that you do not have to live with a dusky and flat or damaged floor because you can simply do something about it–quickly and easily!

Learn More about how easy our floors are to use in these videos by Matt Risinger and Kim Lewis!