How to use high-gloss paint

Updated February 21, 2017

High-gloss latex paints are great for trim, doors, window frames and other accent areas, giving them extra shine to stand out and making them easier to wipe clean. Working with high-gloss paint is a little more complicated than working with flats, because it's thicker when wet and forms a ``skin'' when drying that can make it difficult to remove your painter's tape. High-gloss paint generally isn't recommended for painting full walls because the shine can be overwhelming.

Prepare your surface. Start by scraping the area with your putty knife or paint scraper to remove any loose paint. Then run over it with your steel wool to scuff the surface so the new paint will adhere better. Wipe it down with a damp sponge and let dry completely.

Tape off the area with your painter's tape. If it's a window frame, apply tape on the glass along the line where it meets the wood, as well as on the wall outside the frame. Remove knobs and latches where possible; if not, tape them.

Open the paint and stir it well with your paint stick. Make sure to pull any settled paint up from the bottom of the can and mix it in.

Dip your brush about halfway into the paint, lift it out, let it drain for a moment, then put it to the surface to be painted, starting at the top. Don't wipe or shake off the brush before applying. This will ensure you have plenty of paint to work with on the surface.

Spread the paint from the top down, in the direction of the longest contours of the surface (i.e., stroke lengthwise along trim, window stills and doors, not width-wise). Work in sections, re-dipping the brush as needed. The coat should be thick but not dripping. After completing each section, go back to the previous section and gently brush away any drips that have formed.

Let the paint dry overnight. Apply a thinner second coat, using less paint and longer strokes. Let dry.

To remove the painter's tape, gently run your razor knife along the edge of the tape where it meets the painted surface, cutting through the layer of paint there. (You should be able to see the edge of the tape through the paint.) Gently pull away the tape.


Don't skip the last step of cutting along the tape before pulling it up, as high-gloss paint forms a skin that will peel up from your surface when you pull off the tape if it isn't separated first.


Make sure the work area is well-ventilated when painting.

Things You'll Need

  • Putty knife or paint scraper
  • Plain steel wool
  • Sponge
  • Painter's tape or masking tape
  • Quality high-gloss paint
  • Paint mixing stick
  • Brush
  • Razor knife
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