Don’t Gloss Over Paint Selection: Counseling Customers On Paint Gloss Before the Job Begins 1

By now you should know that paint gloss is about more than just appearance.  Paint provides not just decoration to a surface, but also protection.  And while many people know that a glossier paint is easier to keep clean then a flat paint, most people don’t understand the different strengths and weaknesses of different paint glosses.  Rather then carefully considering the practical advantages and disadvantages of a particular sheen, many people simply pick a color from a swatch or sample and move right on to painting.

Choosing a paint based solely on color is a mistake, and most painters would be wise to counsel their clients as such.   That said, it is important to clearly define the different types of gloss available in most paint and give some quick examples of the best uses for each sheen.

Seven different sheen options

Examples of different gloss choices. Image courtesy of Valspar Paint

Gloss is the measure of a substance’s reflective quality.   A dull finish that does not reflect much light is not considered as glossy as a finish that reflects a great deal of light.  When dealing with paint there are five widely accepted gloss levels:

  • “Flat” – A flat or matte finish has a very low spectacular reelection. This is good for painting walls with cracks or uneven finishes, as a flat finish hides these imperfections
  • “Eggshell” – As the name implies, an eggshell finish resembles the subtle reflective qualities of an eggshell.
  • “Satin” – Satin fits into a small category of reflective measurement that is not as dull as eggshell, but which is not spectacularly reflective either.  This finish is popular with high traffic areas like kitchens and children’s rooms.
  • “Semigloss” – The most popular gloss choice for accents and clean spaces like bathrooms and kitchens, semigloss is easy to clean and is more durable then flatter finishes.
  • “Gloss”- Excellent for trim like doorjambs and crown molding, gloss paint is best used in moderation.
Different practical uses for five main sheen types.

Suggested uses for each type of gloss. Image Courtesy of Paragon Painting

As a paint professional, you may have already known most of this.  If so, that’s wonderful!  Now you should take your knowledge of paint gloss and transfer it to your customer.  Even if they don’t overtly state it, the client is paying not just for your professional paint ability, but also your expertise. Counseling your client to choose the right paint is a vital part of the paint selection process and it should be undertaken with great care before the first paint can is opened.

A startling number of non-professionals choose gloss paint for every surface imaginable.  It makes sense that in a store where small paint swatches are compared, a glossier finish would look better next to a flat finish.  Many homeowners, decorators, and designers do not understand that mixing finishes throughout a home or office setting can lead to a much more professional look. However, paint professionals know that in the real world, paint stands on its own, and flat finishes in bright areas often look much better than gloss finishes. Furthermore, most paint professionals can recommend the finish that will best suit a specific surface much better than a person who doesn’t understand that not all paint goes on flat.

High gloss paint creates a bright reflection on a living room wall.

High gloss paint showing a bright reflection on a wall. Image courtesy of Courtney Price

Why should this matter to you?  Why should you proactively offer this information to your clients?  Because any perception of poor paint work – even if the fault lies in the shine of the paint and not the actual work done – is a reflection on your business. A client that insists on flat or eggshell paint in a high traffic area is likely to end up with dirty walls sooner rather than later.   A client that asks you to use high-gloss paint on old, textured walls will quickly see all the imperfections in those walls as a result of the sheen of the paint.

There are literally dozens of different results that can be achieved simply based on manipulating the gloss of the paint and the light in the area. The entire paint result is your responsibility and rightly or wrongly, you will receive the credit if it looks great and the blame if it does not.  Counseling your client on how gloss will affect the end result of the paint job is a simple and often quick conversation that can lead to greater happiness for them and repeat business for you.   Give them not just your ability, but your expertise as well…you will be glad you did!

Interested in learning more about gloss as well as how to measure it?  Click here to learn more.


One comment

  1. Pingback: Choosing Your Hue: Using Paint Colors to Influence Mood | BYK | Tips for Professional Painters

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s