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Understanding Gloss

Are you semi-educated about semi-gloss? When it comes to painting, here's what you need to know about finish… before you start.

Gloss is all about shine. It describes how much light is reflected from the surface of the paint film. If a painted surface is very smooth and glass-like, the reflection is perceived to be “shiny" or “glossy." Conversely, a flat paint has a rough surface profile after it dries, so it reflects light scattered in many different directions and appears “flat" to the eye.

Gloss is determined by directing a beam of light at an angle to the painted surface and measuring the amount of light reflected using a device called a gloss meter.

The two standard angles used in these tests are 60° and 85°. The 60° reading is used for all gloss levels and is the measurement referred to most often on product information sheets and product specifications.

The 60° reading is more descriptive of looking head on toward the surface. Because of their lower gloss, flat, velvet and eggshell finishes are also measured from an 85° angle to better differentiate their gloss level. The 85° measurement describes the gloss reflectance you might see on a long painted corridor as you peer down its length. Ideally, you want to select a product for which the reflectance at both the 60° and 85° gloss readings are similar (high-end of the 60° gloss range is close to the low-end of the 85° gloss range). This ensures the product's gloss appearance is relatively the same at different viewing angles. If these specifications are not close to each other, the appearance of gloss will vary depending on what angle you look at the painted walls.

Next to choosing color, one of the biggest challenges is choosing the right gloss for the surface. The gloss level of a paint can affect how the color is perceived. A color in a glossy paint would appear to be brighter and richer than the same color in a paint with lower gloss. This difference becomes even more pronounced when the comparison is made between a high gloss paint and a “dead flat" paint. The best way to ensure that you're selecting the right gloss level is to carefully consider your needs for a particular project.

For more information on choosing a quality paint with the right gloss level, call (888) DE PAINT.