Gloss or Semi-Gloss

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Forum topic by becikeja posted 10-04-2014 10:31 AM 1279 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1045 posts in 3414 days

10-04-2014 10:31 AM

Inspired by Greg the Cajun Box Sculpture, I have decided to build an art deco shelf.
Here’s the link to the inspiration.

I plan to try the new Enduro finish from General Finishes. But do I want to go with Gloss or Semi-Gloss. Are there any rules of thumb on which one to use for which projects??

-- Don't outsmart your common sense

9 replies so far

View Wildwood's profile


2790 posts in 2735 days

#1 posted 10-04-2014 11:25 AM

Might help if knew what products from General finishes you are asking about. They have so many clear finish products with satin, semi & high gloss sheens. Also have a line of milk paints too.

Think wood selection & sheen you want and whether product will impart amber look to wood a deciding factor, or need a clear finish that will not.

-- Bill

View becikeja's profile


1045 posts in 3414 days

#2 posted 10-04-2014 11:50 AM

I plan to use Enduro Var

I am using a combination of Padauk, walnut, and maple to build the shelf. I do want the amber of an oil based product and the clean-up of a water based product. This Enduro advertises you get the best of both, but I have not tried it yet.

-- Don't outsmart your common sense

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

5916 posts in 3094 days

#3 posted 10-04-2014 12:08 PM

Enduro var is a high quality product, you will be quite happy with it. Waterborne finishes are generally water-clear, so they add some coloring to get the warm tone that oil based finishes provide. But for the gloss question, I think that is a matter of taste. Reduced gloss in a finish is typically from the addition of silica crystals that act to change the appearance. It’s the opinion of many (including me) that several coats of a reduced gloss finish starts to look muddy, obscuring the wood and grain. I always use a gloss finish, then if I want reduced sheen I’ll polish it down a little…I’ve only done that with oil based finishes using auto rubbing compound, polishing compound, pumice, rottenstone, or very fine grits of SC paper and wet sanding (polishing compound isn’t car wax, it’s the scratch remover stuff). My suggestion would be to go with the gloss, if you don’t like it it’s a lot easier to reduce the sheen (even if it just takes one coat of semi gloss on top) than it is to change the effect of the silica flatters.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View danoaz's profile


223 posts in 2771 days

#4 posted 10-04-2014 12:43 PM

I like Fred’s suggestion to go with the gloss and reduce it if you don’t like it. My personal preference is to do semi-gloss to satin sheen. To me, with so many plastic, fake, woods out there, if you put a gloss on anything it starts to look plastic. The other sheens tend to help keep a more natural wood sheen to it. Now, if I were doing a counter top for a bar or a boat, then that would be a different story because you do want that look of sleekness.

-- "Simplicity and repose are the qualities that measure the true value of any work of art." Frank LLoyd Wright

View Bill7255's profile


428 posts in 2886 days

#5 posted 10-04-2014 01:06 PM

I basically also use Fred’s approach. My first coat is gloss as I feel this brings out the grain. And then if I want a “duller” finish I apply satin or semi-gloss. The finishes are the same where the satin and semi- gloss have additives to reduce the sheen. You can “build” up where you will hide the beauty of the wood grain.

-- Bill R

View joeyinsouthaustin's profile


1294 posts in 2673 days

#6 posted 10-05-2014 02:15 AM

I will chime in and say, I also like the idea of going gloss and working up, or down if needed. You can polish up or rub down. From a design perspective, I think high gloss screams art deco.

-- Who is John Galt?

View buildingmonkey's profile


242 posts in 2148 days

#7 posted 10-05-2014 05:19 PM

Gloss is a more durable finish. Satin is the same finish with some filler added to tone down the sheen. The filler weakens the finish.

-- Jim from Kansas

View becikeja's profile


1045 posts in 3414 days

#8 posted 10-06-2014 01:23 AM

I appreciate all the comments, I’ll go with the Gloss.

-- Don't outsmart your common sense

View OSU55's profile


2494 posts in 2590 days

#9 posted 10-06-2014 01:45 AM

Sheen and film thickness both contribute to the “plastic look and feel”. My method to adjust sheen is buy the gloss version of the various finishes and the flattening agent, and get the mix information for semi and satin sheens. Use gloss until the last coat, then final coat with the desired sheen. I can add further coats if I wnt to reduce sheen more. I’ve had issues of consistency when rubbing down gloss, and it ends up being time consuming. It’s much quicker and consistent to use flattening agents in the final coat. It’s better to go down in sheen vs up.

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