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PAINT FINISHES EXPLAINED: gloss paint and when to use it

A paint is a paint. Right? Well, it is a little bit more complicated than that. Every paint has a number of characteristics that make it unique including it's "sheen" or finish. And one of the most frequently asked questions we hear from our clients is "what paint finish should be used for my project?".

Generally, depending upon the gloss content, paints can be high-gloss, gloss, semi-gloss, satin, eggshell, matte or flat. Today we share the pros and cons of using glossy or "shiny" paint, i.e. paint with 35% or higher gloss.


This "high-shine" paint (85% gloss or higher) can be used for highlighting your home's unique architecture such as crown molding, doors or to make a statement (when used on walls or ceilings). It is easy to clean but tricky to apply because it exaggerates all the imperfections. So, high-quality prep work is crucial.

exterior door painted in high gloss

Source: palettepaint.com

high gloss wall paint

Source: Dirk Denison Architects

Warm white glossy paint for walls or ceilings is ideal in darker spaces with no windows, like a hallway. We would not recommend using it in a room with lots of natural light as it will create an enormous glare that is not pleasing to the eye.

white gloss painted hallway

Source: www.marcusdesigninc.com

When painting high gloss finish on 4 walls, avoid putting it on your ceiling or floor. Use it in moderation because you might end up with too many reflective surfaces.

high gloss accent wall

Source: Jagoda Architecture

You can also create a pattern on the wall using matte and gloss paint versions of the same paint color: this will add interest and texture to your walls.


Gloss (70-85% gloss) and semi-gloss (35%-75%) paints have a pleasant sheen, are also easy to clean and, therefore, ideal for millwork, doors, and high traffic areas.

Sometimes using a semi-gloss paint on cabinetry can make a bold statement as well. A word of caution: if using lights to accentuate open shelves or glass cabinets, make sure your light fixtures are pristine and no wires are visible, because glossy surfaces will reflect everything.

A mildew-resistant blend can be a smart choice for windows and bathrooms where moisture can build up.

gloss painted millwork

Source: washingtonian.com

black gloss painted doors

source: clarkandclarkinteriors.com

high gloss kitchen cabinets

source: 11magnolialane.com

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