What Kind of Paint Should I Use on Pantry Shelves: Gloss or Semi-Gloss?

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Pantry shelves need a tough paint that can stand up to wear and spills.

If you are remodeling your kitchen or simply giving it a face lift, you'll probably be painting the pantry shelves as part of your update. Pantry shelves see a lot of wear, with cans, glassware and boxes being shifted around on a regular basis. For this type of daily use, you need durable paint that can stand up to scratches, gouges and stains. Either semi-gloss or gloss paint can give you the right coverage for this purpose.


Paint Sheens

Homeowners can choose from a variety of paint for their interior painting needs. Water-based and oil-based, or alkyd-based, are the two main categories of paint. Within these two groups, manufacturers offer a range of sheens. Paint sheen is the ability of the paint to reflect light. Paints can have a low-sheen, such as in a flat or matte type, or they can reflect a great deal of light, typical of gloss paints. Semi-gloss is a mid-range degree of light-reflective ability. For walls, the sheen can have a great impact on the look of the room and how light is reflected within it. In a small project, light reflection is less important than the ability of these glossier paints to withstand wear and repeated cleaning. Eggshell and satin paints are in the range between matte and gloss paints, according to the Painting Ideas And Techniques website.


Gloss Paint

Gloss paint offers a high sheen with a slightly mirrored finish. It provides a smooth surface with good moisture resistance. The high gloss finish does highlight every imperfection in the surface, however, though this is not an important factor for pantry shelves as it would be for wall surfaces. The high gloss of the paint does intensify the color, and this should be taken into account when choosing colors.

Semi-Gloss Paint

Semi-gloss paint offers slightly less light reflection than gloss paint. Semi-gloss paint does not have the wet look that gloss paints have. Semi-gloss paints offer the best durability, according to writer Paulette Rossi from "Northwest Renovation" Magazine, and can stand up to repeated washings and scuffs.


The Best Paint For Pantry Shelves

Because of its better coverage and ability to withstand scuffs and wear, gloss paint is the best choice for high-use areas, such as pantry shelves. Gloss paint is also easier to maintain as it will stand up to repeated cleaning from the inevitable spills. High-gloss, oil- based paint is the toughest paint coating for wooden pantry shelves; however, it can be messy to apply and requires solvents for clean up. Oil-based gloss paints also produce strong odors that require good ventilation for a few days after painting. However, if you dislike the mirrored effect of gloss paints, semi-gloss is a good second choice in terms of coverage and durability.



J. Lang Wood

J. Lang Wood's stories, essays and articles have been seen in journals across the country and online. She is a published short story and essay writer who specializes in travel topics, pets, medical subjects, Florida history, environmental issues, political and business topics. She is the author of the novel "Strays" and holds an Associate of Arts in chemistry from College of DuPage.