Gloss (paint)

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High-gloss finish used for kitchen elements

Paint and other finishes come in a variety of finish gloss levels, which correspond to different levels of specular reflection. Common names for levels of gloss, from the most dull to the most shiny, are: flat, matte, eggshell, satin, silk, semi-gloss and high gloss. These terms are not standardized, and not all manufacturers use all these terms.[1]

The gloss level of paint can also affect its apparent colour.

Gloss level can be characterized by the angular distribution of light scattered from a surface, measured with a glossmeter, but there are various ways of measuring this, and different industries have different standards.

One manufacturer[which?] measures gloss as percentages (at an unspecified angle) and gives:

  • Flat (1–9% gloss)
  • Low Sheen (10–25% gloss)
  • Eggshell (26–40% gloss)
  • Semi Gloss (41–69% gloss)
  • Gloss (70–89% gloss)

As a gloss finish will reveal surface imperfections such as sanding marks, surfaces must generally be prepared more thoroughly for gloss finishes. Gloss-finish paints are generally more resistant to damage than flat paint, more resistant to staining, and easier to clean.[2] Flat paint may become glossier through burnishing or staining with grease; glossy paint may lose its gloss and look scratched if abraded. Unlike gloss paint, flat paint can generally be touched up locally without repainting the entire surface.

In traditional household interiors, walls are usually painted in flat or eggshell gloss, wooden trim (including doors and window sash) in high gloss, and ceilings almost invariably in flat. Similarly, exterior trim is usually painted with a gloss paint, while the body of the house is painted in a lower gloss.


  1. ^ Dennis J. Hall, Nina M. Giglio (2011). Graphic Standards Field Guide to Residential Construction. John Wiley & Sons. p. 410. 
  2. ^ Koleske, Paint and Coating Testing Manual, p. 615, ISBN 0-8031-2060-5