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Buying Switches & Outlets - Gloss vs. Satin?

If you're remodeling a room, you may have noticed the range of finishes on electrical devices for your wall plates. Gloss light toggles, satin dimmer switches, matte outlet receptacles, etc.

Satin vs Gloss Electrical Outlets

Most often, customers looking for black or brown devices are most particular when it comes to matching the sheen - especially in kitchen and bathrooms where light switches & plugs typically sit side by side in the same wall plate.

To easily identify which devices are satin and which are gloss, see our comparison charts for black devices and for brown electrical devices.

This photo compares black outlets in a satin finish and in gloss. You can see that the gloss receptacle is much shinier and shows reflection of the light from a nearby bulb, whereas the satin is more uniform.

Gloss vs. Satin: Does it matter? Most likely, you won't notice the difference once they are installed - especially if your switches are a ligher finish such as white, almond or ivory. But if you are particular, here are some points to keep in mind.

  • Gloss vs. Satin - These terms can be somewhat subjective. Gloss typically means a perfectly smooth surface, but the degree of reflectivity can very from shiny to dull. Satin can be anything from a texured gloss finish to a matte finish, with many variations within that range.
  • Not All Devices Are Manufactured in Both Gloss and Satin Finishes - Each electrical manufacturer only has certain devices that they offer. Complicating this, each tends to have a finish they prefer but typically still has a range of finishes on their devices. With the range of lighting needs required today, it is unlikely that you can find every device you need in one identical finish so it is best not to place too much emphasis on the finish.
  • Fingerprints - Gloss devices seem to show grime and fingerprints more so might not be the best choice for high traffic areas, but can look great in formal areas of a home.
  • Switch Plate Sheen - If you plan to cover brown or black devices in our cover plates and want the best match, opt for satin switches & outlets. Kyle's painted finish wall plates have an eggshell enamel finish which blends best with satin electrical components. Shop black covers or brown covers.
  • Made in USA - While most switches, outlets and dimmers are manufactured oversees nowadays, some can still be found that are produced in the America. Hubbell Premise electrical devices are generally made in the USA and tend to be a gloss (whether shiny gloss on electrical switches and receptacles to a dull gloss on modular phone jacks and straps). Leviton electrical devices are often made in Mexico and are Buy American Compliant and are eligible with ARRA (American Recovery And Reinvestment Act) for projects and construction jobs requiring American made materials.
  • Metal Switches & Outlet Receptacles Are Not Manufactured - The question arises of the availability of metal switches and outlets to match wall switch plates, such as stainless steel switches to match stainless steel wall plates. Please note, for safety reasons, these items are not produced in metal. These are electrical devices and metal conducts electricity, so therefore metal finishes are not an option. The best bet is to go with the closest color, such as gray switches and outlets to go with satin stainless steel light switchplates, or bronze to coordinate with dark bronze cover plates.

Device Differentiations

Leviton Variations

Colors are nearly a perfect match between sheens. Satin switches are a bit glossier than satin receptacles but both have a slightly textured surface.

Compare Leviton Device Finishes

Pass & Seymour Variations

Colors won't appear different between the sheens, but the glossy receptacles are much shinier than the satin devices.

Pass & Seymour Device Sheens

Lutron Variations

Most Lutron devices are a high gloss. There are some textured satin exceptions, and they will defintely stand out if placed next to glossy devices.

Comparing Lutron Devices

Sheens Vary by Brand

Satin Variations

Satin Finishes by Brand

Gloss Variations

Gloss Electrical Devices

Please visit Electrical Outlets & Light Switches for a great selection of electrical devices specifically for light switch covers.


Next: Read about Ivory vs. Light Almond Devices

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