It seems that for quite a few years satin finishes have been all the rage when it comes to new furniture and cabinetry. Around the early 80s satin finishes came into vogue because many furniture manufacturers started to export their operations overseas to save on manufacturing costs. Along with cheaper labor came cheaper products made with inferior materials that needed to be finished in such a way as to appeal to our market here in the the States. "Wood and wood products" and "solid wood and wood veneers" are the catch phrases we have become accustomed to when shopping for new furniture or cabinetry that is finished with a satin or "antique" finish.
The additives used to create a satin finish are usually finely ground sand or glass which are designed to "float" to the top of the finish and simulate the satin look. These very additives also weaken the overall durability of the finish along with the various pigmented glazes used in the finishing process. Often, these finishes are very thick and tend to have a hazy or cloudy look which is intended to simulate natural aging and wear that appears on period antiques and objects of art, while at the same time hiding the fact that the materials used are in fact inferior and the appearance would suffer greatly if finished with a clear gloss finish. However, there are ways to simulate age and wear without sacrificing, to a certain degree, clarity and overall film strength when applying a satin finish.