kitchen cabinets freshly painted in blue with a glossy finish

Glossy Finish

Originally contributed by Jeff Butler • last updated 3/17/2021

A fresh paint job can make any room look like new again. However, with lots of colors and finishes to choose from, selecting the perfect paint can be tricky. For example, deciding how glossy you want the finish to be requires thinking about many factors, such as who will use the space and how durable the surface needs to be. These days, there are a range of gloss levels available, and understanding the differences and how they perform can be overwhelming for even experienced DIYers.

Definition

When referring to paint, the terms gloss and sheen are sometimes used interchangeably to describe how shiny the finished appearance is after it has dried. However, some paint producers do distinguish between the two terms and measure them separately. In this case, how glossy a paint is typically refers to the amount of light that is reflected off its surface, with “high-gloss” being at the extremely shiny end and “flat” being at the dull lackluster end. There are a range of levels commonly available between the two extremes, including: full, semi, satin, eggshell, and matte.

What’s The Best Use For A Glossy Finish?

Choosing the right gloss level has almost always been determined by the utility of the paint, with some finishes absorbing light and hiding blemishes and others adding a layer of durability and shine. Things are different now as paint manufacturers are designing new formulations. These days, it’s possible to purchase paints that perform outside their traditional molds.

  • Traditionally, a paint’s gloss level typically determined how well it would perform under certain conditions. Paints with shinier finishes typically produced a more durable surface and were more resistant to moisture As a result, they were commonly used in kids bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchens, and laundry rooms.
  • Whereas, matter finishes were used in quieter rooms to help create a softer ambiance. They absorbed more light, making larger rooms appear warmer and calmer. These types of paints were best suited for studios, dens, and most bedrooms.
  • However, paints now come specially formulated with different gloss levels that hold up in high-traffic areas and prevent moisture damage, so even matte finishes can be used in bathrooms and kitchens.
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