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Gloss, Satin, Matte Hardwood Floor Finishes

What Gloss Level To Choose?

Most people today are now choosing matte type (20% sheen level)Satin floor finish example floor finishes primarily because of the ease of maintenance. They also become less noticeable to minor scratching opposed to finishes with a higher gloss level. No matter what kind of sheen level is considered, most are equal in terms of durability. Drying and curing times fall into the same category unless you're comparing oil based finishes to water based.

It's also interesting to note all levels of finish sheens are slightly different from another. For instance, a semi gloss sheen level may be different from Waterlox to one produced by Bona Kemi. Manufacturers may also list a percentage in their sheen levels. Some may call a product gloss with a sheen level of 55% while another may be lower.

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What Is A Sheen Level?

The sheen level is derived by the amount of reflection from the finish. Not all hardwoods will produce the same sheen level either; best seen with the photo examples on this page. In order from top to bottom we have satin, semi gloss, and high gloss. As a reference, applying to an exotic Brazilian Cherry may show differences in their levels compared to softer species because of the inherent makeup of the wood. In addition, manufacturers may have different application procedures that can affect a desired appearance.

Types Of Sheen Levels - Matte

Gaining popularity in recent years, a matte finish is best at offering an authentic representation of a wood floor look without a finish. Depending on the manufacturer, there is little noticeable sheen whose additional benefits include masking dust buildup, and footprints.


Satin finish levels are most chosen among prefinished flooring Medium gloss floor finish examplemanufacturers and professionals that finish floors on site. Other terms for this sheen level are low luster and low gloss. Lower portion of the photo above illustrates the type of sheen level to be expected.

Semi or Medium Gloss

This finish type lies in the middle of satin and high gloss. Shown above is a prefinished solid 3/4" Brazilian Cherry hardwood floor manufactured by Indusparquet. Other popular prefinished floor manufacturers that produce this level more than others include Lauzon and Mirage.

High Gloss

High gloss finishes offer a more elegant appearance. These finish types are more common in commercial settings and can be seen everyday on basketball floors and gymnasiums. They will tend to highlight imperfections including dust buildup if you're not cleaning often. Other complaints include visible foot prints by walking in bare feet. Expect higher gloss floors to show wear more quickly in high traffic areas opposed to the previous three.

These finishes applied on site or to unfinished floors require a high quality sanding job, otherwise imperfections and subpar work can stand out High gloss floor finish examplenoticeably.

Important Considerations For A Properly Cured Finish

Weather, or more important, interior conditions can play a significant role in the curing of any flooring finishes. Natural air flow will work best. HVAC systems should be turned off during any finishing procedures as dust can find its way into a finish that has not dried properly.

Walking in bare feet over a newly finished floor that may look dry can transfer oils creating a dull surface appearance. For the first 24 hours sock traffic is suggested. Keep the shoes at the door. Maintain a proper curing temperature or in the range of 70 degrees for at least seven days. To be safe, the use of ceiling fans operated at lower speed should only be considered after the first 24 hours with oil finishes.