How to finish high-gloss wood

Updated February 21, 2017

No doubt about it, a high-gloss finish brings out the visual beauty of the wood grain. Whether you're finishing oak flooring or cherry wood cabinets, you can finish the wood to shine and reflect the light. While the wood finish product you choose will have the greatest effect on the amount of sheen, you can maximise the shine by applying the wood finish in stages.

Sand the prepared wood with 220-grit sandpaper. Before you apply the high-gloss finish, the wood must be stained, if desired, and sealed if it's a high-resin wood, such as pine.

Remove as much dust as possible from the work area. Vacuum, sweep and wipe down the walls and other surfaces with a tack cloth. Wipe down the wood you will be finishing as well.

Apply a very thin coat of high-gloss wood finish with a natural-bristle brush. For large items, such as floor planks, use a 4- or 6-inch brush. For furniture or stair spindles, use a 2-inch brush. Brush the wood finish on in the same direction as the wood grain, and let the item dry completely.

Polish the wood with 400-microgrit sandpaper. This is a very fine grit, and it will not scuff the sheen off the coat you just applied, but it will buff away tiny imperfections, such as dust specks on the surface.

Apply another very thin coat of high-gloss finish, just as you did before, and let it dry, before polishing with the 400-microgrit.

Repeat until you've built up the high-gloss finish you desire.


Don't skip the polishing step. High-gloss finishes are more likely to show minor imperfections, since the surface is highly reflective.


A high gloss is stunning on hardwood floors, but it's also high-maintenance. Everything shows up more on high gloss -- smears, smudges and scuff marks require immediate attention to preserve the good look of your floor. Attach non-slip backing to fabric rugs to prevent slipping.

Things You'll Need

  • 220-grit sandpaper
  • Vacuum
  • Broom
  • Tack cloth
  • 400-microgrit sandpaper
  • High-gloss wood finish
  • Natural bristle brush
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About the Author

Glenda Taylor is a contractor and a full-time writer specializing in construction writing. She also enjoys writing business and finance, food and drink and pet-related articles. Her education includes marketing and a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Kansas.