Mastering High Gloss Paint: The Importance of Gloss Meters in Professional Painting 3

When most people think of choosing a paint, the first thing that comes to mind is choosing the color.  Should the bedroom be beige or ivory?   Should the trim be green or burgundy?  Once the color is selected, the next order of business is deciding how much is needed (a quart, a gallon, etc.) and what gloss is appropriate.  Flat, eggshell, satin… Most anyone who has ever painted a room has had the exact same conversation with the attendant at the paint counter about the differences between glosses.

Indoor painting

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For the modern professional painter, however, gloss is far more complicated and nuanced.  Recently, a company in South Carolina was awarded an indoor contract for an office building. The  painters purchased 68 gallons of white, flat paint for their sprayers and got to work.  Unfortunately, 10 of the gallons were mixed incorrectly at the plant and had satin – not flat – finish.   As a result, the team lost time and money repainting a portion of the offices with the correct paint.  It took weeks to receive a refund from the paint distributor and was a huge headache for everyone involved.  Simply using a gloss meter along the way would have no doubt caught the mistake long before it became a problem for not only the paint company, but also for the client.

While a paint has an inherent gloss by virtue of its composition, large commercial or industrial paint work requires measurement to make sure that the gloss is not only as expected, but uniform across the entire paint job.   A number of variables including substrate, temperature, and coating thickness can greatly effect the gloss, sheen, and clarity of dried paint. Thankfully, BYK offers a range of gloss meters that measure all of these factors.

A glossmeter and sample

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The technology behind gloss meters is complicated, but actually using the meter couldn’t be easier.  To measure the gloss of any item, light is reflected off of the surface of that item at a pre specified angle.  The ratio between directly reflected light and diffused light results in a measurement of “Gloss Units,” or GU.  A higher GU indicates a more reflective, or “glossy,” surface.   Light is shown on the object at an angle (as opposed to head on) to allow for more accurate measurement. Most gloss meters are small enough to be moved by a single person and can be used both inside and outside.  The gloss meter performs the light reflection measurement in a closed system, which ensures accurate measurement.   A typical gloss measurement can be performed on a small sample of dry paint in a matter of moments, leading to a better, more standardized paint job, regardless of the situation.

For paint professionals, it is important to understand that gloss is about more than just appearance.  Higher gloss paint is more stain resistant and has a greater resistance to moisture and the resulting damage that comes with it.  Unfortunately, higher gloss paints make it easier to see defects and deformities of the substrate.  As an example, lower gloss paints are typically used on large surfaces like walls, while higher gloss paints are used for items like baseboards, automobiles, and kitchen cabinets.

Paint gloss on a car

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It is true that commercial painters may feel they face much more crucial decisions than evaluating the gloss of a paint. And while things like color and paint thickness may seem more important, gloss can have a drastic impact on the end result of a paint job in the same way that too much salt can ruin a dinner dish.  Click here to learn more about the gloss meters offered by BYK.


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  2. Pingback: Advising Clients on Paint Gloss and Appropriate Finishes | BYK | Painting Professionals and Selecting a Finish for Your Client

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