During my years as a professional decorator, I’ve found that nothing is quite as satisfying as achieving a beautiful glossy finish.
Many people have asked me how they can achieve the same sort of finishes I do, and the truth is, if you pick the right product you’ve already won half the battle.
Am I saying that you can choose a good quality paint and get a professional finish if you’ve never picked up a brush? Of course not. But you can certainly give yourself an advantage (especially if coupled up with a quick search on YouTube for some painting tutorials).
With that being said, I’ve decided to jot down some of the glosses I personally use and consider to be the best in the industry as we head into 2024.
If you don’t want to read the in-depth reviews further down the page, here’s a quick table highlighting the products I recommend after personally using them, price range, when to use it and my rating.
Quick Look Recommendations
|When to Use
|Price Range (2.5L)
|Johnstone’s Aqua Water-Based Gloss
|If you want an interior water-based gloss
|£40 – £45
|Dulux Trade High Gloss
|If you you want a traditional looking glossy finish on interior surfaces
|£35 – £40
|Bedec Aqua Advanced
|If you need a fast drying exterior gloss paint
|£30 – £40
|If you’re old school and prefer oil-based paint
|£50 – £60
|If you want to achieve a mirror-like finish
|£65 – £75
|If you’re looking for a DIY paint at a budget price
|£15 – £25
|Scuff-X Semi Gloss
|If you want the best of the best
1. Johnstone’s Aqua Water-Based Gloss
Best if you’re looking for a water-based interior gloss.
If you need evidence that water-based glosses are almost on par with oil-based glosses in terms of aesthetics, performance and ease of application, I recommend you try Johnstone’s Aqua Water-Based Gloss and report back to me.
Ridiculously good opacity, dries very quickly and has no pungent smells, Johnstone’s Aqua gloss is now my number 1 interior gloss.
I’ve found that it is as good as the oil-based glosses I used to use 15 years ago and believe that current decorators should get with the times and make the switch over to this gear.
Caparol PU is another water-based gloss that is comparative to oil-based and whilst it actually dries quicker than Johnstone’s Aqua, the Aqua is a bit more opaque, has a tad more adhesion and is slightly cheaper. Who says money can’t buy loyalty?
2. Dulux Trade High Gloss
Recommended for those who prefer oil-based interior gloss.
I am personally fully converted to water-based glosses for interior work but if you’re not ready to make the switch then I would say Dulux Trade High Gloss is the way to go.
I have found that since new VOC rules came into place recently, oil-based formulas are simply not as good as they once were but Dulux High Gloss might be the only exception.
In fact, I’ve recently had a customer call me back to do more work after a couple of years and after a bad experience with a cheaper decorator, she specifically asked for an oil-based gloss (yes some people do still prefer it).
I had previously used Dulux Trade High Gloss in Pure Brilliant White in her kitchen which she loved so much as it has a lovely glassy sheen, is really durable and she finds it’s easy to keep clean (cleaning obsessed).
If your customer can tolerate a little yellowing after several years (unless it gets plenty of natural light), I would recommend it.
It’s also worth noting that before application, it does need thinning a bit with white spirit to aid flow and cutting in but other than that it goes for miles.
3. Bedec Aqua Advanced
A great choice for those who want a water-based gloss for exterior work.
I know that many decorators hate the idea of applying a water-based gloss on exterior surfaces but in my opinion, Bedec’s Aqua Advanced isn’t too far off traditional oil-based glosses in terms of both durability and aesthetics.
In fact, I would argue that it’s better than most exterior oil-based glosses.
Whilst it’s marketed as a high gloss, after a couple of coats on a garage door (see image below), I certainly wouldn’t call it that.
For me, it looks more like a satinwood or semi-gloss so it’s worth bearing that in mind if you’re thinking about using this. I know a fellow decorator who had bought this because a customer had requested a high gloss finish and she was fairly disappointed (through no fault of the decorator).
In terms of performance, this garage door still looks the same after two years and is able to withstand cleaning with ease.
Application was very easy and my favourite part of the job was that I could get it done and dusted within a day due to the gloss drying extremely quickly.
Overall, it’s the best exterior water-based gloss but despite the fact that it doesn’t yellow, probably isn’t quite on Dulux Weathershield’s level. Speaking of which…
4. Dulux Weathershield
My recommendation for an exterior oil-based gloss.
Dulux Weathershield has been my go-to oil-based gloss for a number of years due to its protective capabilities when applied to woodwork, metal and plastic.
My motto is ‘if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it’ but since I started this blog I’ve been trying all sorts of different paints so I can be more reliable in my recommendations.
It turns out, I was pretty lucky in my choice because since I started testing a variety of different exterior oil-based glosses, I’ve not found anything that can match up to Dulux.
Whilst Johnstone’s Stormshield is known for its durability and ease of application, I found that it didn’t have great coverage and was somewhat transparent after I applied the top coat.
Overall, Dulux’s Weathershield is durable, has a lovely sheen to it, provides great coverage and the opacity is unbeatable in my opinion.
5. Tikkurila Miranol
The glossiest of glosses.
I really do love Tikkurila Miranol if I’m looking to achieve an ultra glossy, almost mirror-like finish. I don’t love trying to pronounce the name of this gloss correctly at my local decorating centre though.
You can get a gist for how good this gloss is from the photo above but I can tell you that the photo really doesn’t do it justice!
The best thing about this gloss is how forgiving it is. As it’s an enamel, you can whack a coat of Otex primer on and then go on heavy with the top coats. It almost floats with minimal sagging which makes it so workable. Here’s an image of a front door I painted with this gloss using just a brush.
6. Dulux Once
A cheap, ‘one coat’ gloss.
I’m sure you won’t find many high-end decorators who would use this stuff on the regular so I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone in the trade.
With that being said, if you’re a DIYer and are looking for a cheap gloss product that will leave a solid finish, Dulux Once will probably do the job.
Have a quick look at the photo above. I was curious to test how good a retail standard ‘one coat’ gloss paint could be so painted over a skirting board that had previously been painted with a cream-coloured satinwood.
As you can see, the sheen is only slightly more than the previous satinwood so I wouldn’t call Dulux Once the glossiest product in the world.
However, it does have pretty good opacity after the first coat but I did end up applying a second coat just to give it a bit more body.
Overall, it’s ok for a retail-standard paint and will save you a few quid if you don’t want to fork out for more expensive trade gloss.
7. Scuff-X Semi Gloss
No list of gloss recommendations is complete without the crème de la crème of paints.
Oh baby, this is the good stuff. Anyone who has been lucky enough to use Scuff-X Semi Gloss will (probably) tell you that this is the best gloss paint they’ve ever used.
Why do I say ‘lucky enough’? Well, it’s ridiculously expensive and unless you’ve got a rich client, it’s unlikely you’ll be using this stuff on the job.
It’s self-priming, goes for miles, has amazing opacity and is rock-solid once cured. It really does tick all the boxes when it comes to performance and that’s what makes it a dream to apply.
I used it on all of the woodwork at a client’s home about a year ago. I was painting over old, yellowed oil-based gloss and after a quick sand and dust down of the surfaces went straight on with Scuff-X. Having been back recently, I can confirm it’s still totally white and none of it has scratched or flaked off. It’s still spot on.
I know this sounds like a bit of an advert for Scuff-X but I don’t care – it really is an amazing product.
So that’s my list of gloss recommendations along with reviews and ratings. Whilst gloss is slowly going out of fashion in the UK, there is still real value in painting and protecting your surfaces with it, not least because it’s the most durable type of paint out there.
Do you have any thoughts/disagreements/comments/gloss paints you’d like me to review in the future? Leave a comment below and I’ll get back to ya.