Different Sheen Levels of Flooring Finishes

Many homeowners feel there’s nothing more desirable than hardwood floors. During the floor selection process, a lot of emphasis is placed on the type of wood and flooring pattern. But that’s not the only aesthetic consideration you’ll have to keep in mind. The type of floor finish makes a huge difference, too. Therefore, you may be wondering whether it’s best to go with a semi-gloss, a matte, or a satin wood floor finish. Each has its pros and cons; it really comes down to the type of material being used and your personal tastes.

The finish of a floor is very important to the overall allure of a room. Customers may choose a more matte finish to let the room sort of absorb the natural color of the wood or they may opt for a glossier finish to brighten up the room and reflect the light. Finding the right wood / finish combo isn’t an exact science, but here are some tips on the four different finishes we offer and how they should be best applied in your design scheme.

1. Matte (10-20%)

When you rank the different types of wood floor finishes from the least amount of sheen to the most, matte comes in first place. It provides only about 10-20% luster, meaning that it’s much more flat and clean-looking. It actually hides dirt and scuffs better for this reason and requires very little maintenance. That makes it an ideal choice for high-traffic areas (including commercial spaces) and children’s rooms, as well as homes with a casual, country flair. It can also work well in minimalist, European-inspired designs. This type of finish is often used on wire-brushed flooring.

2. Semi- Matte (20-35%)

Arguably the most popular type of finish is the semi-matte, a 20-35% blend that is not quite shiny but not quite dull. With the high-gloss many customers remark that the shine is the first thing they see when entering a room which can detract from the other features of an area. Plus with a light flooring and a lot of natural light the high-gloss type of finishes can be almost too bright. A semi-matte finish does have some shine and minimal reflection of light, but not overly done while also hiding some dust and footprints – a perfect fit right in the middle.


3. High Gloss (35-50%)

One of the complaints of high gloss flooring is that it highlights imperfections such as scratches and dents. This is true but it’s also not always a downfall, especially when some weather and wear actually adds to the allure of a floor like in a cabin or rustic-type home. Plus, high gloss floors are a great way to invoke natural light into a dark room using reflections from a sunlit window or overhead lighting to create head to toe visibility. Applying a high-gloss can also brighten up a naturally dark wood which makes the colors and grains ‘pop’ and thus become more appealing.


4. Mirror (50-60%)

The mirrored finish is definitely a niche product but it is one that has a market nonetheless. Many commercial buildings (restaurants, bowling lanes, hotel lobbies) use this finish to brighten their entry way or to make an area appear more like a business. Mirrored finishes combine the warmth of hardwood with the durability and brightness of tile which is very appealing.
Finding the right type of finish can sometimes be a difficult formula blending personal taste, room functionality, type of wood, natural light and more.

Either way, it’s good to know that there are options for almost any and all combinations.