What you need to know about high-gloss finishes

August 21, 2020 4 min read

A living room with light beige furniture and curtains, painted with dark blue Benjamin Moore paint, available at Regal Paint Centers in MD & VA.

Read below for everything you need to know about high-gloss finishes, including our tips and tricks and recommended products.


What has changed about today’s high-gloss paint?

  • Overall, today’s premium paints are more durable [than ever] thanks to advances in paint technology. A great quality about Benjamin Moore paint is that all of the finishes are highly durable, so you can use any finish in [almost] any area – it just depends on the look you want to achieve.
  • High gloss water-based latex paints and ADVANCE waterborne alkyd paintare generally more “user- friendly” than lacquers, especially for homeowners who tackle their own paint jobs. Water thinned paints, such as latex paints and our ADVANCE Waterborne Alkyd are more environmentally friendly and because they are water-based – no smelly solvents like lacquer. And, they are much easier to clean up – just use water – compared to lacquers that require chemical solvents to clean.

What effect does high gloss paint create? What can it do for your walls and ceilings? What about cabinets or furniture? 

  • A high gloss finish reflects light – on walls and ceilings, a semi-gloss or high gloss finish will help add sparkle and can make a space brighter, depending on the existing light sources. When used on cabinets or furniture, a high gloss finish will deliver a shiny, lacquer-like look that is easy to keep clean. It is important to know that high gloss finishes are not very forgiving when it comes to surface imperfections, so it is critical to ensure your surface is well prepared.

What are the best surfaces to paint with high-gloss paint? Are there any surfaces you should avoid? (Floors, exteriors? For walls, drywall vs. plaster?) 

  • High gloss finishes are commonly used on exterior doors, as well as interior doors, trim and high-traffic areas. But, you can use high gloss finishes almost anywhere you want to create a special atmosphere. Be careful though, because they reflect light and can accentuate blemishes, avoid using high gloss finishes on areas that are not completely smooth.

A kitchen island with cupboards painted in high-gloss using Benjamin Moore ADVANCE interior paint, available at Regal Paint Centers in MD & VA.



What are your top colors for high-gloss paint? 

  • Benjamin Moore high gloss paints can be tinted to any of our colors. While many homeowners default to using lower sheens such as matte, eggshell or satin on their walls, a semi-gloss or high gloss finish can have a great impact. Lighter shades of high gloss finishes can accentuate architectural detail without overwhelming an existing color scheme. But to add drama, a deep color high gloss is hard to beat. In any hue or depth, high gloss finishes will make spaces more interesting and add highlights. To add some dimension, consider using the same color throughout a space but in different sheens – such as contrasting stripes in a matte vs. semi-gloss, or using the same color on walls and trim, but varying the finish.


How do you prep surfaces before painting? 


What is the best tool for application? (Brush, roller, sprayer) Any material type you should also use, such as nylon brushes? 

  • Achieving great results with any paint can require a bit of practice, this is especially true of glossier finishes. Generally, brushes are good for smaller jobs and can give great results with a bit of care. Rollers are a better choice for larger surfaces and will save time. We typically recommend a short-nap roller but it is best to check the specific recommendation for the product you select. Spraying can also be very effective but may require training and practice for best results. Our experts at Regal Paint Centers can help you determine the appropriate application method for your project.


How long should you wait between coats? How many coats should you apply? 

  • Generally speaking, you should wait approximately four hours before applying a second coat but drying times vary based on temperature, humidity and how heavily the paint was applied. You should always refer to manufacturer instructions for the specific paint you are using.

Are there humidity/temperature factors you should consider? (Ex: Is it OK for bathrooms?) 

  • When applying paint, air and surface temperatures should be above 50 degrees Fahrenheit and high humidity should be moderate. Once the project is completed and the paint has fully cured, high gloss finishes remain durable in humid areas, which is why they are commonly used in bathrooms and kitchens. Modern latex and waterborne alkyd (ADVANCE) finishes are more forgiving in this regard than lacquers.

Are there any special considerations for different surfaces when you’re applying? 

  • Practice your technique – gloss finishes, more so than lower sheens, are sensitive to application tools and technique. Porous surfaces like sheetrock or bare wood must be primed to seal the surface before applying high gloss finishes. This will enhance the gloss and ensure uniformity.

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How much should people expect to spend on the paint and tools? 

  • It is important to use high-quality products and materials to get the best possible result. Choosing a less-expensive option may mean sacrificing the quality, ease of application and speed of completing the job.

Is there anything I haven’t asked that I should be sure to know?

  • If you are new to this, contact or visit Regal Paint Centers for help regarding products, prep and tools. If you're an experienced painter, remember the basics and read the label – recommendations change over time so there may be some new information out there. Most people are anxious to pick up the roller and get started. Take a few minutes to gather information and plan the job – this effort is almost always rewarded with a better result, faster.