Should I get semi-gloss finish for hardwood floors?

sweetd313March 3, 2009

Well, my granite dilemma has been solved (sort of), so its time to move onto the floors. My neighbor has the semi-gloss hardwood finish on his floors, and they look great. On the one hand I like the sheen, but on the other, I don't like that it's the first thing you notice when you walk in the door. Will I get tired of this finish after a while? Any body with semi-gloss experience? Pros or cons?



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I love the look of high gloss hardwood floors The trouble is gloss shows every piece of dust and every ding and scratch. It can make you crazy. Low sheen or satin hardwood floors in a light color stain are the easiest to keep up.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2009 at 8:18PM
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I have both semi gloss and matte finish Cherry in my house...We chose a matte 5 inch plank Brazilian Cherry in my whole house (except the kitchen) about 5 years ago. When I redid my kitchen 2 years ago, my husband got plank 5 inch semi gloss Braz Cherry. When we first installed it, I loved the semigloss because it was so pretty to look at compared to the matte floors. Two years later, I hate the semi gloss floor so much that I will be tearing it out as soon as I can afford a replacement.

The shiny surface shows every footprint and every scratch much more clearly than my matte floors. They require daily mopping to look good. Since I don't mop daily, they really look good only once a week. I only mop my matte finish floors monthly and the upstairs even less than that. Although the semi gloss floors are 3 years newer than the rest of the hardwood, they actually look much older because the scratches show more clearly with the semi gloss finish.

My experiences may be different from others...but think about how you live, i.e. pets, kids etc. The more matte the surface, the easier time you will have keeping it looking good. I have pets, kids and a lot of traffic in and out of my house, so keeping the shiny floor looking good is a challenge.

Good luck with your decision!

    Bookmark   March 3, 2009 at 8:27PM
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I would recommend Satin finish as well if you don't want to see every scratch and ding. Much more low maintenance.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2009 at 8:45PM
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Thanks everyone- you all have really good points. I didn't even think about the high maintenance of semi-gloss! I love the sheen, but don't know if I want to deal with the dings and scratches. I have to decide soon, because I'm getting the floors done tomorrow!
Any other experiences?

    Bookmark   March 3, 2009 at 9:41PM
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Ditto the satin finish - that's what I've done in three homes and several remodels, and I love that's it's low maintenance and very forgiving. I did semi-gloss in our first home, and it looked fabulous until it got scratched from normal wear and tear. Scratches really show up on the semi-glass, whereas I don't notice the scratches on the satin.

The satin still has a bit of a sheen to it; now I prefer the look and would choose it even if maintenance was not an issue with the semi-gloss.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2009 at 9:55PM
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We have oil based high gloss on our floors. I know every state has different laws on whether or not they can use it in your state but I love our floors and the high easy to clean ..almost like plastic and we always get positive comments about it. If you drop something though it does show more but we love it

    Bookmark   March 3, 2009 at 10:20PM
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I love the satin look. A little more understated. I went with satin and am so glad...epecially with dog and kids! There were a lot of decisions I made about our kitchen and went with look over what was practical, and in many of those cases I'm sorry. You think you won't mind all the cleaning, but you will (at least I do). That being said, there are some things that were worth being impractical! So, I guess you need to decide how much you really like the sheen and whether it's worth the extra mopping and more visible scratches. I'll be curious to hear what you decide. Good luck!

    Bookmark   March 3, 2009 at 11:42PM
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I swore that I would never ever get semi-gloss again. I also swore that I would go with light coloured floors, but fell for dark again. But at least they are extremely matte - UV oil finish. And, they are handscraped. They are so forgiving, I simply love them. Wish that they were in the kitchen too, but our builder finishes with ceramic.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2009 at 9:01AM
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Thank you all for the feedback! You guys are great! I decided to go with the Satin finish. The floors are being redone as I type. Keep your fingers crossed that all goes well! I will let you all know how it turns out.
Thanks again!

    Bookmark   March 4, 2009 at 10:45AM
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What kind of wood are your floors? Shows pics when you're done, please!

    Bookmark   March 4, 2009 at 10:59AM
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I have the satin finish. I think it looks nicer and shows less dust, scratches and will get them!
Best of luck.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2009 at 5:28PM
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Hi there - gald you decided to go with satin. Of course it is personal preference - but for me semi gloss is a little too "bowling alley shiny" for my taste. Here's a before and after of our floors. The GC knew that I wanted a satin finish and assured me the semi gloss would not be shiny. They were a redo...


    Bookmark   March 7, 2009 at 6:03PM
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I'm late to the party, but I would like to add I refinished my Douglas Fir floors in my bedroom with gloss, and they are VERY SLIPPERY when wet. So if you are in a high-water-spattering area, you might want to go with matte, or put DOWN a lot of mats (ha ha), to keep from suddenly being in a skating rink.

Carla in Sac

    Bookmark   March 7, 2009 at 9:32PM
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Hi there I went with the satin finish and could never be more happy It has plenty of the sheen yet not too much. I don't have to mop and polish every week . Its like you put it down and forget, This is real hardwood we're talking about in a light oak color I do use a large area rug and some small ones since this is in my kitchen, Works perfect.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2011 at 2:28PM
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We are getting our floors done tomorrow. We have pine upstairs and red oak down. Upstairs is getting the full treatment (sanding + 3 coats). The floors downstairs are in great shape and only need a buffing and single coat.

The refinisher sanded upstairs today and put down the (natural) stain. He asked what type of finish we wanted. DH wanted to know what the options were. He told us what they were and suggested semi-gloss.

After reading all the comments here, we've decided on satin. Much thanks to those who shared their experiences!

I'm looking forward to the final results. As well as the smell to go away!

    Bookmark   March 9, 2012 at 10:17PM
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I'm very late to this party, but so glad that I found it. I've decided that satin is the way to go. I haven't been able to find a stain that I like. But, my alternative was to water down the taupe paint that's on the walls and do a water base stain. I can't imagine that there would be any problems with it.


    Bookmark   December 24, 2012 at 8:36AM
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Ours is VERY matte. It is a commercial grade finish that we got 3 years ago and also recently used for the new addition we are finishing. We love it so much.
Also it is very hard to scratch. We had minwax semi-gloss in our last house and when the sun came in there were scratches galore! This one has none after 3 years- except for one we got when not moving furniture carefully enough.

Ours is made by Vermeister. I highly recommend it! People always comment on it as well when coming through the house.

    Bookmark   December 24, 2012 at 2:44PM
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Thx for your feedback. I've got real wood that is unusual to me. Only 1 1/2" wide. An old barracks that the RR bought and turned it into their meeting hall for Conductors and the Union. Eventually, they sold it and now, I've got it. The floor is in its original condition and needs work. So, I'll have it sanded and stain it myself with a water wash of taupe paint. That way it will match the taupe on the walls to some extent. But, matte was my selection. Glad to see that I made the right choice.


    Bookmark   December 24, 2012 at 4:21PM
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I am not so much a fan of the plastic of of some high sheen. It looks great when frist applied but I think it is a pain to keep up and it never looks the same after application. We did Satin at our last place and it was fine.
This time we went with Extra Matte, which is almost no sheen at all and looks as though the floors do not have any poly on it. I love it. Very forgiving and it looks the same as when it was first applied, because the extra matte does not change the appearance of the wood floors as much. It is like looking/walking on the original floor w/o the poly.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2012 at 3:30PM
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I am bumping this thread to the top because we're getting our whole house's floors refinished and I have to choose sheen level too. I was wondering how people like their decisions to go with satin/semi-gloss? Is semi-gloss really more slippery? We have a flight of stairs that are hardwood but we could add a runner.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2014 at 10:38AM
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There's no question as to adding stair runners. This is something you just need to sit and think about. It adds a softer element which opposes the hard wood very nicely. A way of adding some color to an area that could nicely reflect downstairs pallette and tied them to your upstairs choice of colors. I would LOVE to see pics of your staircase.

Having worked as a commercial/fine artist through my life, I wouldn't miss this opportunity. However, I'm sure you'll make a good selection. But, if you want some additional feedback, email your pics direcrtly to me... provided you don't mind unsolicited feedback.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2014 at 11:03AM
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I love the look of high gloss floors, but just not in my house. It reads formal to me. They also show everything. I wanted a finish that matched the feel of our house and matched our style of living. With pets & a toddler, we don't live in a formal, spotless house.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2014 at 1:32PM
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Have your floor guy do a sample of each once the floors are installed & stained (if your doing a stain). I like some sheen & I was certain I would go with at least a satin finish. When he did the samples, I picked the matte finish. For my particular floors, the matte looked richer.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2014 at 7:55PM
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Absolutely Romy718!

Get samples done on the floor. Floor men expect you to ask for that. And talk to your floor men at length. They can help guide you, too.


    Bookmark   March 6, 2014 at 8:11PM
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Absolutely Romy718!

Get samples done on the floor. Floor men expect you to ask for that. And talk to your floor men at length. They can help guide you, too.


    Bookmark   March 6, 2014 at 8:12PM
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