High Gloss vs. Semi Gloss Paint


The terms "high gloss" and "semi gloss" refer to the level of sheen in paint. Sheen level has a dramatic effect on both appearance and durability. A homeowner undertaking a painting project must understand the innate characteristics of both types of paint along with the pros and cons both offer.


  • High-gloss paints have the highest sheen level of all paint types. This creates a glossy and shiny appearance that makes colors appear darker and more vibrant. Semi-gloss paints have a more matte appearance compared to high-gloss paints and do not hide dirt and other impurities as well as high-gloss paints. Semi-gloss paints also give the painted surface a velvet-like finish.

General Characteristics

  • Starting from the least amount of sheen to the most, the types of gloss available include flat, eggshell, pearl, satin, semi-gloss and high-gloss. This means that high-gloss and semi-gloss share some of the same characteristics. High-gloss paints are easier to clean and hide dirt better than semi-gloss paints. Semi-gloss paints also do not hold up to as much wear and tear as high-gloss paints.

Indoor vs. Outdoor

  • Use high-gloss paints mostly indoors and semi-gloss paints outdoors. This works for several reasons. First, even though semi-gloss does not clean as easily as high-gloss, semi-gloss paints do hide imperfections on the painted material significantly better. For example, cracks and dents in a wall show less when painted with semi-gloss than when painted with high-gloss. This allows you to paint all sorts of materials, such as brick, wood and cinder blocks, without worrying about the rough-textured surface or any damage. The naturally velvet look of the paint tends to hide imperfections. High-gloss paint, on the other hand, does not hide imperfections well and works best on untextured interior walls.

Ease of Use

  • Semi-gloss and paints with lower sheen levels tend to be easier to use than high-gloss paints because the matted finish helps hide paintbrush strokes. This means you must use precision and careful strokes while painting with high-gloss, since any errant strokes may be obvious. Novice painters may want to consider using semi-gloss and other matted paints before using high-gloss paints.

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