Gloss Vs. Semi-Gloss: Painting on Baseboards

In paint vocabulary, "sheen" means that the glossier the finish, the more durable it is as well. A semi-gloss paint is often used on baseboards; high gloss may seem a bit too shiny to use in areas such as the living or dining room. Either type is durable enough to handle the task.

Benefits of Both

Both semi-gloss and high-gloss paints provide added durability compared to flat, eggshell or satin finishes. Both paints resist water well enough that they can be wiped clean without damaging the paint -- they can even be used in a bathroom, where steam can cause water to bead on the walls and trim or drip onto the baseboards.

Glossy Paint

  • High-gloss paint provides even more durability and washability than semi-gloss.
  • High-gloss also reflects a good deal more light, so whatever you paint with it is going to stand out from other items in the room painted with the same shade and a less glossy finish. Paint all the trim and the baseboards with high-gloss paint -- potentially the door surface as well -- for a gleaming effect in a room such as a bathroom or kitchen painted in a light color.

Semi-Gloss Paint

  • Semi-gloss paint comes in handy for baseboards and trim where you may not want extreme shine, such as a dining room, bedroom or living room.
  • Semi-gloss doesn't show flaws quite as much as glossy paint, since it reflects less light.


The glossier the paint, the more light it reflects, which also means that every ding, nail head and drip in the paint is also more obvious. Since the flaws are most evident in a high-gloss paint, pre-painting preparation is even more important. Make sure the baseboards and trim are as smooth and clean as possible before priming or painting.