How to Paint Furniture With a Gloss Finish

Updated April 11, 2017

Two types of gloss finishes are usually found on furniture: semi-gloss and high gloss. Semi-gloss finish is shiny but not enough to see your reflection in it. High gloss finish is the type of shine you can see on baby grand pianos and finely made furniture. While you may not be capable of duplicating a manufacturer-quality high gloss shine on your furniture, you can come close to the gloss affect with some effort and a few supplies.

Use sandpaper to sand down any imperfections on the piece of furniture or to remove old paint from the surface. Sandpaper of 100-grit density will suit this particular project.

Clean the surface of the furniture to ensure that all sanding dust has been removed as well as any other debris that may be present.

Allow the furniture to dry completely before proceeding.

Prime the furniture with an oil-based primer, and allow the primer to dry. Use a non-foam roller or a paintbrush to apply the primer. It is recommended that you use a non-foam roller for a smooth finish because foam rollers have a tendency to leave bubbles in the primer.

Using your choice of colours in latex semi-gloss paint, paint the entire surface of the furniture with a brush.

Allow the paint to dry, and apply a second coat as needed.

Make sure that the paint is completely dry once you have applied as many coats as you need to the furniture.

Using a clear coat polyurethane, apply the polyurethane with a paint brush, coating the entire piece of furniture.

Allow the first coat of polyurethane to dry.

Apply a second coat of polyurethane, making sure that the entire surface is covered.

Allow the polyurethane to dry.


Applying polyurethane not only gives your furniture a high gloss, but it adds life to the wear of the furniture with a clear hard coat that prevents a great deal of damage. Make sure that when you are ready to apply the polyurethane, there is no dust or animal hair in the area because these particles will float to the clear coat and become ingrained in the final product. Accomplish the painting and polyurethane application in an area with newspapers or a protective floor covering laid down beneath the furniture to prevent splatter on other surfaces. Work in a well-ventilated area.

Things You'll Need

  • Sandpaper
  • Oil-based primer
  • Paint roller
  • Latex semi-gloss paint
  • Paint brush
  • Clear polyurethane
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About the Author

Patrice Lesco has been a writer since 2001. Also a certified teacher, she writes for newspapers, magazines, books, theater and film. Lesco holds a Master of Fine Arts in theater from Michigan State University, as well as a Bachelor of Science in education and theater from Methodist College.