High-Gloss Design, High-Impact Results

Molly Burke |

High-Gloss Design, High-impact Results blog updated by Monica Rose Designs

We asked savvy design pros how they use high-gloss finishes — here are some of their best ideas — plus product tips to pull off this lacquered effect.

By Molly Burke


Matte is having a moment — but what about its counterpart, gloss? Glossy finishes are common in the product design and household appliance worlds — not to mention a tried-and-true solution for adding durability to cabinets and trim. Today, however, high gloss is making its way into both commercial and residential design in new ways, and in new hues. The result: high-gloss finishes provide a futuristic, yet chic, finish option, and a new way to add both flair and durability to designs.

We reached out to our design community on Sherwin-Williams for Design Pros on Facebook, asking your peers how they’ve added the flair of high-gloss finishes to their projects. Here are some of our favorite ideas, plus tips to pull it off:


Perfect pairing: gloss and matte

“I just used it in a commercial space — high-gloss doors with matte walls!” – Hope Benton Fallin

While some projects may call for dramatic high-gloss walls, most may benefit from a combination of matte and gloss finishes. In Fallin’s commercial project, the doors pop against the backdrop of flat-finish walls. “We’re seeing gloss and matte together for a really textured look. In 2018 to 2019, we’ll start to see high-shine furniture, high-gloss trim and accents — even backsplashes in the kitchen — but all this beautiful shine will be balanced with soft and matte finishes,” says Sue Wadden, Director of Color Marketing for Sherwin-Williams.

Need a bit of guidance on finding the right finish? In “Shine On, Shine Off: Gloss and Sheen,” Sherwin-Williams color and coatings experts make simple sense of gloss and sheen, so your designs can finish strong.

Glossy, yet durable, trim

“I tried high gloss on the crown moulding and all the trim in my own family room…it’s now our favorite room for chilling and TV watching.” – Amy Pelligrino

“I love high gloss on trim, especially on crown moulding and the exterior front door, shutters and other accents. Another place high gloss is wonderful: stairwells! It provides an easy cleanup for smudges from pets and little hands and feet. I use it in dark areas as the light will reflect back into any dark area.” – Charlotte Crandall Porterfield

Give your next design a distinctive pop of color with bold, saturated trim. Depending on the color, high-gloss trim can have a variety of beautiful effects on your projects: “Whites and soft colors look ethereal and mirror-like when painted glossy,” Wadden says. “Deep tones and black have high drama and luxurious feel. Bright tones, like red or purple, ‘shout out loud’ when painted with high shine — so it’s really about picking the color that suits the environment you’re trying to create.”

You don’t have to shy away from these looks thanks to the latest paint technology breakthrough. Emerald® Interior/Exterior Urethane Trim Enamel works on doors, trim and cabinets, delivering the smooth, uniform finish of an oil-based enamel with the convenience of a water-based urethane formula. For interior applications, it delivers excellent hardness, adhesion and a silk-smooth uniform finish — and comes in a high-gloss finish, as well as a variety of Sherwin-Williams colors.

“With Emerald Trim Enamel you get a highly durable finish — especially in high-impact areas like trim, doors and cabinets. The trick to gloss is that the substrate has to be really perfect or the shiny surface will show the imperfections,” Wadden says. “Before applying the paint, make sure that the trim surface is prepped well — including sanding and priming.”


Playful lighting

“I used gloss on the orange peel ceiling in a 1930s-style home….The ceiling really lights up with the centered-up light in the tray ceiling.” – Laurie Ett

Whether in residential or commercial projects, a high-gloss finish can help play with a room’s light in interesting ways. The liquid effect of lacquered finishes reflects loads of light, which adds depth to a space. Any room that feels small can benefit from the mirror-like qualities of a glossy finish.

If a residential client wants to play it safe, an accent furniture piece in a high-gloss finish can add a touch of drama. For a bolder look, cabinets with a lacquer finish, or walls painted in a gloss or high-gloss finish, will add a dose of drama. Just remember, straight on, dark, glossy finishes tend to look darker than their matte counterparts; light, glossy finishes skew brighter and sharper.

In commercial spaces, you can push the boundaries a bit more. “Glossy surfaces add instant impact, so it’s understandable why commercial designers are using the finish to create dramatic interest,” Wadden says. “Many commercial designers are using interesting LED lighting installations with all that shine to create beautiful interiors.”


Our finish categories

Regardless if you go flat matte or high gloss, be sure you know the four basic Sherwin-Williams finish categories for interior paint. The sub-categories in parentheses provide a clearer mental picture of the paint’s characteristics. While subjective, they attempt to describe the “feel” of the paint as much as its look.

Flat (flat, matte): No to very low reflection when dry.
Eg-shel (low-gloss, eggshell, low sheen, satin, velvet): Low to medium reflection when dry.
Semi-gloss (semi-gloss, pearl, medium luster): Medium to moderate reflection when dry.
Gloss (gloss, high-gloss): High reflection when dry. 

Article Courtesy: https://www.sherwin-williams.com/architects-specifiers-designers/inspiration/styles-and-techniques/sw-art-high-gloss-design-high-impact-results