Can You Mix Flat and Satin Paint?

Mixing different paint sheens like flat and satin is a great way to customize your paint’s finish. By blending paints with varied sheens, you can create unique finishes that have properties of both paints. But is it okay to mix flat and satin paint?

The short answer is yes, you can successfully mix flat and satin paint. When blended well, the resulting paint will have a sheen that falls somewhere between the sheen levels of the original paints. The durability will also likely be moderate, more than flat but less than satin.

Paint Sheens

Before jumping into mixing techniques, let’s do a quick overview of paint sheens. This will help illustrate the differences when blending these two finishes.

Paint sheen refers to the amount of light reflected by dried paint. There are four main sheens:

  • Flat – Reflects little to no light. Has a matte, non-shiny appearance.
  • Eggshell – Reflects some light, more than flat but less than satin. Has a subtle hint of shine.
  • Satin – Reflects moderate light. Has a low to medium luster.
  • Gloss – Reflects the most light. Has a very shiny, slick appearance.

The different sheens serve unique purposes. Here’s a quick rundown:

  • Flat – Ideal for hiding surface imperfections. Provides a uniform, minimal shine. Easy to touch up.
  • Eggshell – Has decent durability with low glare. Works well in hallways, bedrooms, dining rooms.
  • Satin – Balances durability and finish. Has some resistance to scuffs and stains. Used often in living rooms, bedrooms.
  • Gloss – Very shiny and durable finish. Shows off trim and architectural details. Used on cabinets, woodwork.

In general, lower sheens like flat are less washable but can hide flaws well and offer a muted look. Higher gloss paints reflect more light, showcase details, but magnify imperfections.

Why Custom Mix Different Paint Sheens?

Knowing the characteristics of each sheen, why would you want to mix them? What are the potential benefits of blending sheens?

Here are some top reasons for mixing paint finishes:

  • Customize sheen to your needs
  • Get benefits of both sheens in one paint
  • Dull down a shine while maintaining some durability
  • Smoothly blend adjacent spaces with different sheens
  • Minimize rework if you run out of paint
  • Adjust color match with premixed colors in different sheens
  • Save money by using paints you already have

For example, combining flat and satin paint allows you to get the touch up benefits of flat while also gaining some of the washability of satin. You can dial in a sheen that works for your particular room.

Mixing paint finishes provides a lot of versatility. But there are some important considerations when doing so. Let’s look at those next.

Tips for Mixing Flat and Satin Paint

When mixing different sheened paints like flat and satin, follow these tips to get the best outcome:

Use paints from the same brand and base

It’s ideal to mix paints that are from the same manufacturer and have the same base, either latex/acrylic or alkyd/oil-based. This helps ensure better compatibility and proper blending. Don’t mix latex and oil paints.

Combine compatible sheens

Adjacent sheens like flat and eggshell or satin and semi-gloss mix together most seamlessly. But you can also mix flat and satin successfully with proper stirring. Just don’t mix extremes like flat and gloss.

Stir thoroughly

Once combined, stir the paint thoroughly with a stick to fully incorporate the paints. Periodically mix again as you’re painting to maintain consistency.

Strain if needed

If there are issues with improper mixing or paint compatibility, strain the blended paint through a paint strainer to remove clumps.

Test on a sample board

Brush a test sample of the mixed paint on a board. Check for proper blending when dried before painting entire room.

Mix enough for whole project

It can be hard to reproduce the exact custom sheen again, so mix enough blended paint for the entire project upfront.

Expect moderate properties

The blended paint will have finish and durability properties somewhere between the two original sheens.

Following these tips will give you the best chance for successfully mixing flat and satin paint. But how do these two specific sheens interact when combined?

How Flat and Satin Paints Mix

When flat and satin paint are stirred together thoroughly, the resulting paint will land somewhere between the two finishes. Here’s an overview of how the sheens and properties mix:

  • Sheen – The flat paint will reduce the shine and luster of the satin, moving the sheen closer to eggshell or matte.
  • Durability – The durability will be moderate, more than flat but less than satin. The paint will be tougher than flat but likely won’t clean as well as satin.
  • Touch up – Touching up the blended paint will be easier than satin alone, but not as seamless as pure flat.
  • Hide – The hide will be better than satin but not as good as true flat paint. Minor imperfections will be reduced but not eliminated.
  • Washability – The satin will help maintain some stain resistance, but the overall washability will be diminished from satin alone.
  • Color accuracy – Use flat and satin bases that match closely in color to prevent tinting the hue. But expect a potential subtle shift.

The mixing ratio will impact the properties as well. For example, mixing 75% satin and 25% flat will result in paint much closer to true satin finish and performance. Play around with test mixes to dial in your perfect custom sheen.

Mixing Ratios for Flat and Satin Paint

To find your desired sheen, you’ll need to adjust the mixing ratios of flat and satin paints. Here are some starting points for common target sheens:

  • For eggshell finish – Mix 3 parts satin : 1 part flat
  • For matte finish – Mix 1 part satin : 1 part flat
  • For flat finish – Mix 3 parts flat : 1 part satin

Other interior sheens can be mixed as well using similar ratios. Semi-gloss mixed with satin creates a nice soft sheen. Matte and high gloss should typically be avoided though when blending sheens.

Make test mixes with small amounts of paint to tweak the ratios as needed. For example, if a 50/50 blend of flat and satin is too dull, shift to 2 parts satin and 1 part flat.

Ideally mix enough custom sheen paint for the entire project at once for consistency. But you can mix up more later by referring to your ratio notes.

Can You Mix Other Sheens?

Beyond flat and satin, many other interior and exterior paint finishes can be combined successfully:

  • Eggshell + Satin – Makes a nice compromise sheen with better durability than eggshell alone.
  • Matte + Gloss – Minimizes glare of gloss while maintaining shine and durability.
  • Flat + Semi-Gloss – Dulls down semi-gloss while still providing some stain resistance.
  • Satin + High Gloss – Softens the bold gloss into more of a subtle sheen.

Similar principles and test mixes apply when blending other sheens. Avoid mixing extremely different finishes like flat and high gloss. But many middle-of-the-road sheens can be combined nicely.

Tips for Mixing Multiple Sheens of Paint

When working with more than two sheens of paint, follow these tips for best results:

  • Mix paints in similar amounts from each sheen. For example, don’t blend 1 part satin, 1 part eggshell, and 4 parts flat.
  • Add the highest sheen paint first when mixing multiple sheens together. This helps properly incorporate each one.
  • Stir thoroughly between adding each new sheen to fully integrate before moving onto the next sheen.
  • Make small test mixes first to evaluate the blended sheen before scaling up.
  • Paint a test patch allowing each coat to dry to see if you need more coats to smooth out the finish.
  • Use separate stir sticks for each paint sheen to prevent cross-contaminating cans.
  • Consider labeling the mixed paint can with the ratio and brands used for future touch up ease.

Mixing three or more sheens gets trickier, but can create some beautiful custom in-between paint finishes.

Potential Issues from Mixing Flat and Satin Paint

While mixing flat and satin paint can provide some benefits, there are also some potential downsides to keep in mind:

Touch up challenges

Touching up just flat or just satin paint is fairly straightforward. But touching up the custom blended paint can be trickier if you don’t record the mixing ratio.

Shortened shelf life

The shelf life of the mixed paint is shorter than unmixed paint. Try to use up the blended paint within a few months.

Subtle color shift

Even when using bases that appear color matched, blending two sheens can result in a slight color change once dried.

Flattening higher sheen areas

If applying the mixed paint over a satin basecoat, the flat paint will slightly diminish the previous sheen.

Unpredictable durability

It’s hard to predict exactly how durable and washable the finish will be compared to unmixed paints.

Possible flashing

Flashing, a noticeable variance between coats, can occur if the blending isn’t thorough enough between coats.

Tricky for large projects

Remixing big batches of custom sheen paint consistently is challenging for large-scale projects.

Accessibility issues

For those with low vision, blended sheens make it harder to distinguish doors, trim, and objects by touch.

With proper prep and testing, these risks can be minimized. But it’s helpful to be aware of the potential downsides before mixing sheens.

Best Uses for Mixed Flat and Satin Paint

Now that we’ve covered the pros and cons, where is blending flat and satin paint most ideal? Here are some of the best uses:

  • Dining rooms – reduces glare while allowing some durability against food stains.
  • Bedrooms – provides a smooth, blended look but hides flaws better than full satin.
  • Offices – minimizes shine to reduce eye strain while maintaining some scrubbability.
  • Hallways – dials back the reflectivity of satin while still resisting marks.
  • Bathrooms – the improved moisture resistance of satin helps in humidity but flat hides flaws.
  • Kids’ rooms – adds durability and washability over flat alone for easy cleaning.
  • Basement ceilings – takes advantage of satin’s mildew resistance but flat’s flaw hiding abilities.
  • Interior doors/trim – a nice compromise sheen between satin’s boldness and flat’s muteness.

For most residential walls and ceilings, a blended flat and satin finish offers a great middle ground paint.

Tips for Using Mixed Flat and Satin Paint

To get the most out of your custom blended flat satin paint, follow these application tips:

  • Properly prepare surfaces – clean, sand, fill holes and prime as needed so the blend looks its best.
  • Use high quality applicator – blend with a premium brush, roller cover or paint sprayer for smooth, consistent coats.
  • Check for proper drying between coats – the mixed sheen may dry slower than unmixed paint.
  • Apply finish coats only after primer/base coats have fully dried.
  • Add an extender if the blended paint dries too quickly – this can prevent flashing issues.
  • Maintain a wet edge and overlap strokes to prevent lap marks with the blended sheen.
  • Mix periodically during painting – stir the paint often to maintain the sheen consistency.

Proper application practices will help the finished blended flat and satin paint look seamless.

FAQs About Mixing Flat and Satin Paint

Let’s go over some frequently asked questions about combining flat and satin interior paints:

Should I mix flat and satin wall paint?

Yes, mixing flat and satin wall paints is a great way to create a custom wall finish. The ratio can be adjusted for your desired sheen.

Can I mix satin and matte paint?

Yes, matte paint is very similar to flat so mixing it with satin paint will dull down the satin’s shininess to a nice matte-satin blend.

What happens if I mix flat and semi-gloss paint?

The semi-gloss will overpower the flat, so the resulting paint will end up closer to a satin sheen. Mix in more flat to get a low sheen.

How do I thin down satin paint to flat?

Adding 25% flat paint to satin is usually enough to noticeably dull down the sheen. For a true flat, use a 3:1 ratio of flat to satin.

Should I use flat or satin paint on walls?

It depends on your goals. The blended flat and satin creates a nice compromise with moderate sheen and durability.

Can I mix interior and exterior paint?

It’s not recommended. Interior and exterior paints have different formulations suited for their particular environments.

Is it better to mix paint in a 5 gallon bucket?

Yes, a 5 gallon bucket allows room to mix multiple gallons of different sheens together properly. Make sure to stir thoroughly.

How do I evenly mix two different sheens of paint?

Stir slowly and thoroughly with an up-and-down motion when blending sheens. Periodically remix during painting for consistent results.


Mixing interior paint sheens like flat and satin offers a lot of unique benefits. With proper mixing techniques, testing, and application, you can achieve seamless results from blended paint. Pay attention to the finishing properties and use the custom sheen thoughtfully in the right areas.

Combining paints is all about flexibility and customization to create the perfect finish for your space and needs. So don’t be afraid to experiment with blending flat and satin paint to make it your own. Just be sure to carefully follow the recommendations covered to end up with a beautiful, durable blended paint finish.

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