four paintings on wall

What is gloss paint? Does gloss paint give a shiny finish?


What is gloss paint? Gloss paint is the regular paint that you can find in most home department stores such as home depot. It has a shiny and glossy finish when it is applied. The gloss paint has a tendency to reflect light when it is shown on the surface which is painted. The gloss paint will reflect even dim and dull lights as compared to satin and matte finish paints which do not have this tendency. In the presence of bright light, the painted surface will reflect almost 90% of the light back.

Gloss paint is mostly composed of either an oil or a water + oil composition. The oil that is mixed into the paint is usually turpentine oil. The oil gives most of the reflective properties to the surface that is being painted. Even if the gloss paint does not require oil to be added to the paint it still has a huge quantity of it. This is different from a matte finish paint which is usually water-based. All gloss paint will require some type of oil for the shiny and glowy effect to be visible in the final finish.

Some manufacturers tend to add the oil directly to the paint can and sell premixed emulsions. These emulsions have the right quantity of added oil for the desired colour that is mentioned on the can. When you choose these premixed emulsions you will be saved from having to dilute the paint and obtain the correct colour according to your liking. While other manufacturers sell concentrated paint mixes. These will need to be diluted with a certain kind of oil in the correct proportion to get the desired paint colour. This can be tricky for some novice painters. But if you learn to add the right oil and make the correct proportions then this can significantly reduce your cost.

What is gloss paint?
Photo by Rachel Claire

What is gloss paint used for?

Gloss paint is used for the following most common applications:

  • Gloss paint is usually used for living spaces or areas where the paint needs to be reflective so that a few lights can brighten up the whole space. This type of paint is being employed in modern homes to brighten up the space in daylight without the need for any light. This makes absolute sense as the world is moving towards more environmentally acceptable solutions for lighting. Gloss paint coupled with white floor tiles in daylight can actually brighten up a living space more than indoor lights.
  • Gloss paint is also used in places where accidental water and other kinds of chemicals and liquids are expected to come into contact with the surface on a regular basis. For. e.g. in bathrooms or kitchens, water can spill onto the wall or ceiling accidentally. As gloss paints are oil based they repel water. this will prevent the paint from getting diluted by repeated water spillage. In fact, water can be wiped off the surface on which gloss paint is applied easily with a towel. This is in direct contrast to matte and satin paints that are water based and will eventually start to get diluted and chipped by repeated water spillage.
  • Gloss paints and enamels are also used for exterior coats. Gloss paints being oil-based have a natural tendency to repel water and hence don’t get absorbed by water. This is the perfect type of paint to be used outdoors as it can withstand rain due to this tendency of the paint. This type of paint is also known as weather coat or weather-resistant paint. Glossy paint will also reflect the sunlight and will make the house shiny and big in daylight. Hence it is the most common type of paint that is used outdoors.
  • If you have kids who have a liking for throwing their hot chocolate onto the walls then getting a gloss paint is the only option. This is the only type of paint that can be cleaned with a towel in case anything spills on it. If your house has matte or satin paints, then you would have to repaint the whole wall to get rid of the stain. But if you have glossy paints then you can easily wipe the paint off. 🙂

What is the difference between satin, matte, and gloss paint?

Gloss paints are reflective and shiny. Gloss paints will reflect daylight but they can cast hard shadows and highlights at night. These types of paints are best for spaces that are used mainly during the daytime and are usually not used at night. An example would be a patio or a sunroom.

Satin paints shimmer but don’t reflect. They reflect some light during daytime but are not as reflective as gloss paints. You can learn more about satin paint finishes here.

Matte paints are non-reflective and they have a tendency to dim out the shadows and highlights in spaces that are lit by artificial lighting. You can learn more about matte paint finishes here.

What is a high gloss finish?

A high gloss finish is achieved by using oil-based gloss paints with no added water. these paints are similar to the oil paints used in making classic art pieces. These gloss paints are very vibrant and shiny due to the fact that the oils in the paints are not applied to a surface by diluting with water.

As these paints are fully oil-based they take an absurdly long time to dry out. They can take anywhere from 2-3 days to dry out to a state that is suitable to touch. This is because the paint does not adhere to the wall due to evaporation. The paints are fixed to the wall due to a process called oxidation that fixes the paints in the presence of oxygen.

So if you want the shiniest paint in your living space then going with completely oil-based gloss paint is the way to go.

Which is better oil or water-based gloss paint?

Oil-based gloss paints tend to be shinier and have a high gloss finish. Water-based gloss paints will usually be less reflective than oil-based versions but they will still be much shinier as compared to satin and matte finish paints.

Water-based gloss paints have both oil and water mixed to form an emulsion. The water is only used to dilute the emulsion for application to a surface and the water will then evaporate off over time. Oil-based gloss paints will also dry off over time but this is usually due to the oxidation of oils. This is a chemical reaction and occurs slowly.

As evaporation occurs far more rapidly as compared to oxidation water-based gloss paints tend to dry off quickly. Oil-based paints can take a good 2-3 days to dry off completely whereas water-based gloss paints will dry off in 2-3 hours. This is one point which you need to keep in mind. If you are applying a space such as a school hallway that needs to be open the following day going for a water-based gloss paint can be the better option.

You can learn more about satin paint finishes here.

You can learn more about matte paint finishes here.

Find more articles similar to “What is gloss paint? Does gloss paint give a shiny finish?” here.

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