High gloss red and green hoods

January 2015

Gloss and smoothness go hand in hand. The brilliant shine of a new vehicle and the flatness of a matte finish are both examples of gloss. The difference is how smooth the coating and substrate are on a microscopic level.


When a finish is extremely smooth all of the sun’s light will reflect in a uniform direction. The intensity of that uniform reflection creates a high gloss finish. This is very similar to a mirror. A mirror would have no distortion, which is why there is typically a 100% reflection.


When a finish is rough on a microscopic level, the sun’s light will scatter in multiple directions. This scattering causes a lower gloss or a flat finish.


Depending on your industry and customers, you may have to spray various gloss level finishes. In this circumstance, it is critical that you get three gloss meters. A 20°, 60°, and 85° gloss meter. When measuring gloss, we can give a value to a finish by looking at different angles. 100 is typically the highest value and zero is the lowest.


  • High gloss finishes are typically 70 through 100 and need to be measured with a 20° gloss meter.
  • Glosses ranging from 10 and 70 should be measured with a 60° gloss meter.
  • Flat finishes from 0 through 10 should be measured with an 85° gloss meter.


Measuring glosses at different angles ensures that small differences your eye notices also show up numerically when measured. Many paint specifications will provide a desired gloss or range to fit in. Coatings are designed and can be modified to meet those specifications, but understanding gloss and how to measure gloss are important. This will allow you make adjustments to your coatings and sound judgments when a finish meets a specification without consulting specialists.

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