Serving the Commercial Painting Market

illustration showing gloss is assessed at a 60 degree viewing angle; sheen at 85 degrees

Gloss and Sheen: Understanding Your Options

in Application Techniques

Selecting or recommending the correct paint is about finding the coating with the right mix of functional and aesthetic properties. As a commercial contractor, it’s good to consider your customer’s knowledge of sheen and gloss, and how that may impact both the longevity and appearance of the finish.

Factors to consider

We all know, for instance, that areas where food is prepared have greater coating demands than an office. But you’ll also want to consider other factors.

For instance, is the room a high-traffic or low-traffic area?

Windows also come into play. You might not use a high-gloss finish in a room flooded with natural light.

It’s helpful to consider the room from all angles before making a decision.

chart of surface finish definitions: flat, satin, semi-gloss and gloss

4 important points to remember

  • Gloss and sheen choice should be based upon the type of room, what is being painted, lighting, position of windows, traffic, performance expectations, and aesthetic preference.
  • Every Sherwin-Williams product has a gloss or sheen value. Some have both.
  • Paints with a lower gloss/sheen will hide wall imperfections better than paints with a higher gloss/sheen.
  • Paints with a higher gloss/sheen will generally be easier to clean. However, the exceptions are products like Emerald® and Duration Home®, which provide exceptional washability at all sheen levels.

Measuring gloss and sheen

Gloss and sheen reflectance are measured on a scale of 0 (no gloss) to 100 (mirror-like). Reflectance is typically measured by deflecting a single beam of light at a 60° or 85° angle off a surface.

The light is deflected into a receptor, which measures the intensity in units. The higher the number of units, the shinier the surface. 60° and 85° references are a guide to reflect average gloss and sheens in manufacturing when force dried at 4 mils wet. Refer to the product data sheets for more information.

The right coating for the job

Sherwin-Williams offers coatings that meet all performance levels in the full range of gloss and sheen levels.

“We offer products for specific jobs, rather than broad formulations,” says Rick Watson, Product Information, Sherwin-Williams. “Select the right coating first, then decide which sheen or gloss level is preferred among those offered in that product line. And always remember that investing a little more in higher quality paint can offer big dividends in reduced maintenance costs over time.”


This article was originally published in the Fall 2016 issue of the Sherwin-Williams CommercialPro newsletter. Get more business-building tips and info on products, services, discounts and project solutions on the Sherwin-Williams contractor website

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