Gloss levels in paint and what it means for your final finish

Other than colour, selecting the gloss level of paint is one of the biggest decisions to make when buying paint for your project, and it can have a big impact on how professional the finish looks. There are some standard applications for each different level of gloss paint, which generally makes the decision easier. However, fully understanding what these differences mean can help you make the best choice.

Gloss is measured on a scale from ‘0’ to ‘100’, with ‘0’ being no gloss and ‘100’ being mirror-like. The industry standard is to measure this gloss level when painted onto a glass surface. Meaning, actual gloss levels on standard substrates would be lower than stated when used on a project. These gloss levels are measured at different angles depending on the gloss level that is wanting to be achieved (including 20°, 60° or 85°). This is based on the angle of sight that these paints would normally be seen. For example, flat paints are measured at 85° as they are often used on the ceiling. Whereas gloss paints are measured at 20°, as they are normally seen straight on (e.g. doors).

Generally, the paint gloss level claimed by the manufacturer indicates that the gloss level of the paint is within the range shown in the table below.

Paint Type
Gloss Level
Degree of Gloss Measurement
Ultra Flat ≤1 85°
Flat 1-2 85°
Matt 3-7 60°
Low Sheen 8-12 60°
Satin 20-30 60°
Gloss 40-80 20°
High Gloss >80  20°


Gloss paints are stain and dirt resistant and are easy to clean. making them the perfect choice for roofs, doorways, door frames, and window frames.

BUT, did you know gloss paints also show up imperfections, as the light reflects easily off of the surface? This means they are unsuitable for broad walls, ceilings, and external walls of high rises.

On the opposite end of the scale are ultra-flat and flat paints. These guys are the masters of hiding imperfections in the surface and finish, giving a more professional looking finish on large surface areas. Ultra-flat and flat paints should be used on ceilings, and exterior walls with large, flat surface areas. It's important to note though, that these paints are not as easy to wash as their glossy cousins. For this reason we don't recommend using them in areas that may collect stains and dirt.

For interior walls, low sheen is the ideal gloss level as it provides an aesthetically pleasing finish that hides minor imperfections, while also having a higher level of washability than flat paints.


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16 April 2020

Gloss levels in paint and what it means for your final finish