Can You Paint Over Satin? (Different Types)

You can’t paint over specific paints. So, can you paint over satin?

You can paint over a satin finish. But, you must sand, degrease, and prime the finish before applying the new paint.

Satin is a medium-gloss finish, so paint won’t stick over the glossy top layer. So, you must sand its glossy layer to create tiny holes where the new coating can penetrate and stick.


Does Paint Stick To Satin Paint?

Paints don’t stick well to a satin finish because the finish has a semi-glossy layer that prevents liquid from penetrating it. Since paint can’t penetrate the semi-gloss finish, it won’t stick. But, if you sand the top glossy layer and apply a coat of prime, you can paint over it. 

There are 5 types of finishes you can choose, based on sheen levels; flat or matte, eggshell, satin, semi-gloss, and high-gloss. Flat and eggshell have a small amount of sheen in their formula, so their finish isn’t glossy.

Satin and semi-gloss are medium-gloss because their finishes are glossy. High-gloss has the highest level of sheen and is glossier than most of them. 

The glossy finishes (satin, semi-gloss, and high-gloss) produce a glossy layer once dry that prevents liquid (or moisture) from penetrating their coating. This glossy finish is great for protection, but it also doesn’t allow the paint to stick to it. 

Since all paints are liquid, they will not stick well to a satin finish. The slick texture doesn’t give the paint much chance of sticking since they have to stick to textured or grazed surfaces.

You can only apply sealants over a glossy finish. Sealants, such as polyurethane, are topical finishes and don’t need to penetrate a coating or surface to stick. They can stay over the glossy finish and stick and dry there.

Is Sanding or Priming Necessary?


Should You Sand Before Applying Paint Over Satin Paint?

You must sand before painting over a satin finish. Sanding will remove the glossy layer of the finish and create tiny ridges (pores) for the new coating to penetrate and stick to. 

However, sanding is unnecessary if you apply a sealant over it. This is because sealants stick to glossy finishes as long as the finish is clean and dry. But, sanding can also improve the sealant adhesion.


Applying a primer over the glossy finish isn’t mandatory, but it’s recommended. The primer will cover the gloss and produce a textured finish that the new coating can stick to.

However, priming is necessary if the existing finish is damaged or if you want to change the color shades. For instance, if you want to apply light-colored paint over dark-colored satin, you must apply a coat of grey primer to prevent the dark color from bleeding through. 

Here’s when you have to use a primer:

  • If the finish is wet, you need stain-blocking or moisture-resistant primer.
  • If the finish is chipping or peeling.
  • When switching color shades.
  • If the surface was patched.
  • When applying thin paints. 

How To Paint Over Satin Paint?

Painting over a satin finish is not difficult, but you might encounter a few problems if you don’t know the proper steps. Don’t fret though, because this guide will show you how to do this in 5 simple steps. But first, you’ll need a few tools and supplies:

  • Sandpaper
  • A gallon of paint
  • A solvent or degreaser
  • Wire brush
  • Prime
  • Paintbrushes
  • Clean rags

1. Clean and Degrease The Finish

Clean and Degrease The Satin Paint

First, clean and remove grease and oils from the existing finish. The new coating will not stick properly if the existing finish is filthy. Also, you can’t sand filthy surfaces because the sandpaper might get clogged by the filth.

To clean it, use a dampened rag (with a degreaser or cleaning agent) and wipe the surface until the dust and filth are gone. After cleaning, wipe off the liquid and let the surface dry.

2. Sand The Finish

Sand The Satin Paint

Sand the finish with fine-grit sandpaper. This removes bumps, imperfections, and the glossy sheen so the new coating can stick better. You don’t need to sand the entire finish off, you just need to create tiny pores.

After sanding, remove the dust nibs around the surface. If you don’t remove the dust, there will be dust bumps when the new coating dries. You can remove dust by wiping it off, using a brush, or a vacuum.

3. Apply Primer

Apply Primer Paint

This step is optional. You don’t have to prime unless the finish is damaged, patched, or you want to switch color shades.

Use a primer that is compatible with the paint you want to apply. Using a paintbrush apply one coat of primer over the surface and let it dry.

4. Apply The New Paint

Apply The New Paint

Next, apply 3 coats of paint over the satin finish. You can use a brush or sprayer to apply it. Wait until one coat dries before applying the next one. 

Once the final coat dries, seal the finish with a sealant, such as polyurethane or varnish. The sealant will protect the finish from moisture, water, and other damage. 

Types of Paint You Can Apply:

Types of Paint You Can Apply Over Satin Paint


You can apply eggshell over satin. But, you must sand the existing finish first. Also, if the satin is oil-based, you’ll need a coat of primer over it before applying the eggshell.

This is because eggshell is water-based and isn’t compatible with oil-based finishes. The good news is that you can apply multiple coats of eggshell.

Chalk Paint

You can apply chalk paint over satin. Chalk paint has good adhesive qualities so it will stick to most finishes. You also don’t have to sand that much before applying it.

However, chalk paint is thick, so you need to thin it with water to make it easier to apply. 


You can use semi-gloss over satin, but you will have to sand the existing finish properly. This is because satin and semi-gloss are both medium-gloss finishes and they won’t stick over each other unless you sand them first. You also need to apply a coat of primer between them. 

Oil-Based Paint

You shouldn’t put oil-based paint over satin directly because the paint has to be applied on a textured surface and not a glossy one. So, if you apply it directly over a glossy finish, it won’t stick and will peel off. So, you must sand and prime the existing finish first and then apply it. 

Water-Based Paint

Since water-based paints have good adhesion qualities, you can apply them over a satin finish. 


You can apply varnish over satin without sanding too much. Varnish is a topical finish that is designed to be the final coating, so it sticks over glossy and textured finishes. 

Emulsion Paint

Emulsion paints are not commonly used over glossy finishes because they contain a large volume of water. Being water-based, the emulsion will not stick to a glossy or slick surface. So, to make it stick, you might have to remove the glossy finish first.


Polyurethane is a topical finish that will stick over all types of surfaces and finishes. So, you can apply it over a glossy finish. Optionally, you can sand the existing finish to remove imperfections and bumps. Polyurethane has a clear coat and will reveal imperfections once dry. 


Matte or flat can go over satin, but you need to sand first to allow the matte to stick better. You also must apply a primer because most matte finishes are water-based and they won’t stick unless you apply a primer. 


You can apply satin over satin, but you must sand the old coating first. Satin has a glossy finish that prevents the new coat to stick. If you don’t sand it, the new coat will peel off after a few days. You don’t have to sand the entire coating, you just have to stress sand parts of the old coating.

However, the new coat of should have the same base (oil or water) as the old coat. You shouldn’t apply oil-based satin paint over water-based paint, or vice versa. 

Gloss Paint

You can apply gloss over satin, but you must sand and prime the finish first. Also, if you apply two coats of gloss, you must sand between coats. 

Final Words

In summary, you can apply paint over satin. But, before applying, you just need to ensure that the paint is compatible with the existing finish Also, you need to know if the finish is oil or water-based to know how to prep it for the paint.

Finally, always sand and prime before painting over it. Sanding and priming will guarantee better adhesion between the new and existing coating.

Tony Adams
Tony Adams

Tony is a professional painter and an author of DIY Geeks. Tony has completed over 1,000 painting projects for his clients. It's safe to say he knows what he Is talking about,

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