The Best Glossy White Paints
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What is the best glossy white paint for painting furniture, interior doors, and trim? I have two favorites – one is water-based the other oil-based. Both produce a high gloss sheen.
I have another furniture painting project to show that I did in my bedroom.
It is the mirror that is above my dresser. I painted it with glossy white paint. I wanted the mirror to “pop” against the flat paint finish on the wall.
As you can see from the photo above, the white paint is very glossy and looks so nice against the flat grey-blue wall color.
The Story Behind The Glossy White Painted Mirror
Even though the mirror was a new purchase from Home Goods, it needed paint. It has a little history…
Remember when Better Homes & Gardens came to my house to take photos of my home for their Christmas Ideas magazine last year? Well, that is when the mirror came into my life as a “FIX”. See it hanging over the fireplace in the photo above?
The reason I bought it in the first place was because BHG asked me to find a way to hide the flat screen TV above the fireplace in my family room. Once the photoshoot was completed, the mirror came down and the TV went back up.
I was left with a nice white framed mirror with no place to call home.
Since I liked it, I took it from room to room around my house to find a permanent home for it.
It became the replacement for an old, pitted, and tarnished mirror that was part of the dresser in my bedroom.
- See what I did with the old mirror – Repurposed Mirror Coffee Table
I propped the new mirror right up against the old one.
With the dresser newly painted, I wanted the mirror to be bright, white, and super shiny to add a contrast against the flat paint finish on the walls. The original rustic white finish on the mirror is nice, but didn’t add the contrast I was seeking. I wanted a more bright and modern vibe.
What Are the Best Glossy White Paints?
I have two favorite glossy white paints. Each one dries to a super shiny finish. One is oil-based and the other latex.
Oil-Based Glossy White Paint
I used the oil-based option on the mirror. I know you are going to ask why would I use oil-based when there is a high gloss latex on the market to use?
The reason is that the oil-based formula creates a glass-like shine with zero brush strokes. When painting large flat surfaces in gloss this is a good thing since many strokes of a paint brush are needed to cover the area. Tabletops, counters, doors will be as smooth and shiny as glass with no brush marks in the finish.
I am not a fan of using oil-based paint, this is the only one I will ever use and I have only used it a few times. I first used Glidden Trim, Door, & Furniture paint on the desk in my studioffice a few years ago. That is when I became a fan of the paint. It creates one amazing glass-like finish. On certain pieces where I want super high shine, I take the time to use it.
It is a gel-formula paint that I will admit is hard to get comfortable using. It is thick and hard to spread the usual way, it just takes a little time to get adjusted. It self-levels which is the quality I like the most and the reason it dries to a glass-like shine.
I would not use this paint on a piece of furniture that does not get a lot of sunlight. Oil-based paints will darken and yellow when they are in dark rooms. Both the rooms where I have used it get lots of light. It is a great paint for using on an exterior front door. It comes in only a few basic colors.
Water-Based Glossy White Paint
My other go-to gloss formula of paint is much easier to use. It is Rustoleum Painter’s Touch Ultra Cover. It also dries to a super shiny finish, but does not self-level. Even with that said, you will not be disappointed in the sheen of this paint. I used it to paint the recessed lights in my house as well as the window trim. I like to see a high glossy shine around lights and windows. It makes them pop. This paint is the best for when you want high gloss and easy clean up.
When using either formula, make sure to use a high quality brush. When you have a great paint brush, your painted finish will look like a pro did it.
You may think the brush doesn’t matter and you are saving money buying a “cheap” brush for your painting projects, but your painted finish will show brush marks and stray bristles will end up in the finish.
Buy the best brush you can afford, clean it well after each use and you will have it for a long time saving you money in the long run. I use Purdy brushes exclusively.
Another paint tip when using a gloss paint finish: Gloss paint will show every imperfection on the surface of the item you want to paint. If there are any imperfections on the finish, gloss paint will magnify them.
Make sure you sand the surface first. Use a hand sanding block to go over the surface to smooth out any ridges or paint drips from a previous paint job. Use a tack cloth to remove all the grit and then paint.
You can see how shiny the paint is. The trim on the white doors to the right of the dresser have a semi-gloss finish.
The paint I used on these is Valspar Bistro White. I love the contrast, especially when using lots of white in a room or a monochromatic color scheme. Having different textures and sheens of one color are what make a room look visually more appealing and add interest.
Do you have a favorite brand of glossy white paint that you like to use?
Your paint tips are great! Thank you for sharing them.
I know you love chalk paint and use it often on furniture pieces. Please remind me what color blue chalk paint you used on that chest/buffet you have in your entry hall. It’s a medium to dark blue paint and I remember you sealed that piece with clear wax and then used black wax over it for a wonderful effect. That’s my favorite project you’ve ever done!
Hi Zoe – That furniture makeover is very popular. It did come out great. I use Chalky Chicks Paint in DC Blue. You can see it here: https://amzn.to/3XMHgVJ
On the wall what kind is the blue gray
Hi Sandy – The blue grey on the walls is Behr Rhythmic Blue #6806. If it looks too bright you can also check out Glidden Bastille Blue 90BG 64/101
I just finished painting all the trim in my house with Sherwin Williams latex enamel. It was AMAZING paint!
It smoothed to a gorgeous finish- even on the crown moulding. My brother helped paint and said it was the best trim paint he’d ever used.
It’s pricey-$70 a gallon (on sale!) but worth every penny.
Hi Judy – Sherwin Williams is my go-to paint for big projects like walls and kitchen cabinets. It is what I used to paint my cabinets. I agree it is the best. I like the Pro Classic Water-based Alkyd formula. It is priced right in the middle of their paint line up so it is not too expensive as some of the other formulas. When doing painting around a house, you don’t realize just how good one paint is over another until you use a good one. :-)
Where in the world did you get the lovely chair caning motif bedspread? Love, love, love it! Course, I’m very partial to chair caning materials and am always “cane spotting”!
Hi Cathryn – I bought the bedspread at Penney’s about 6 years ago. It was from the Jonathan Adler collection they used to sell.
Thank you for the great painting tips!
What colour, make of paint did you use for your doors and trim in the room?
Everything looks amazing!
Hi Maire – The paint color on the doors and trim in the bedroom is Valspar Bistro White in a semi-gloss finish.
Thanks for your post.
For me, temperature was a definite factor (too cold in garage) with the Glidden Door and Trim, couldn’t get a smooth finish. My fault.
Sanded and redid it with the Glidden again in house (warmer). Finish not great but by then I deemed it acceptable for picture ledges!
BUT the Glidden Trim and Door yellowed after just a few months. Repainted with the $9 can of Rust-Oleum white gloss enamel even though I hate the clean up. Still bright white, glassy, and cost half the price!
Just my two cents!
Going to paint an outside metal door. It has been painted with latex. Do I have to prime if I use oil base.
Hi Vin –
No you don’t have to prime as oil will go over latex. If you were painting latex over oil, then you would need to prime. For your door, I would go over it with 100 grit sandpaper to provide some “tooth” for the new paint to adhere. Clean the surface well with hot sudsy water, rinse and let dry, then paint. Use only light coats. More light coats will adhere better than one or two thick ones.
I am planning to take your advice and use the Glidden to paint a found captain’s desk (aka executive desk). Which Purdy brush should I purchase if I can only purchase one for the project? Also, do you have a favorite brush cleaner?
Hi Alexia – I would get a 2-1/2″ wide angled brush. They have a few different types: Clearcut, XL, and another one that I can’t think of the name. I use the XL to paint furniture and the Clearcut (Stiff) to paint trim around windows, ceilings and doors. If you clean the brush as soon as you are finished using it and blot it with a towel and then hang it to dry, it will last for years. I don’t use brush cleaner, I use Dawn dish detergent or Dove Moisturizing hand soap to clean.
Hi Alexis – I just re-read your comment and realized you are going to use the oil-based Glidden paint. The XL brush will work, but you can also consider using the angled brush made for oil-based paints. I think it is called Black Bristle. As far as brush cleaner to clean oil-based paint from the brush, I have always used Mineral Spirits, but any oil-based brush cleaner will be fine and then Dawn dish detergent after all the oil-paint is out of the brush.
What would you use to paint a kitchen table in high gloss? I have modern copycat Eames chairs but the table is country style and I want to update it in a modern high gloss white paint to look more cohesive until I can buy a more modern one. Thanks for any input you can lend me.
I want a HIGH gloss white paint for the inside of windows. Are these still your two favorite two white high gloss paints?
several years ago, I was able to buy great interior high gloss paint – but now they have mixed it all with primer which is NOT high gloss but is dull and thick like pudding. There is no sheen when the primer is added to the paint.
Which of the two (if they are still your favorites) would you use to paint the inside of windows?
Hi – It is hard to find high very high gloss paint. The two I wrote about are still my favorite. Either would work inside a window, I used the Glidden to do just that in my previous house. The downside of using it is that it is oil-based and takes a long time to dry. It is a gel formula and is very thick, very different from most paints. The Rustoleum brand is much easier to work with and dries fast.
Thank you so much! I am glad I found your site.
Wow thank you so much for sharing this article. I’m a college student with lots of hand-me-down furniture and so I’m excited to re-vamp it using the techniques you’ve shared!
Hi Diane, Do you recall the brand and name of the lavendar paint you used on the dresser in the photo above? It’s really pretty and I’d like to use it on mine. Thanks for all the great info on your blog–one of my faves!
Thanks Kat. It is nice to hear that my blog is one of your faves. XO I wrote an entire post about painting the dresser. I used Behr paint. You can find out all the details here: https://inmyownstyle.com/2015/03/modern-paint-finish-using-diy-chalk-paint.html
Hi Diane, are there any pieces of furniture that you would not use a high gloss paint on? I have an old hutch, and was thinking I could use the bottom of it for storage in an extra room after painting it, but as much as I like the high gloss I didn’t know if this project would be too much “high gloss”. Thank you for all of your info on DIY!!!
Hi Hariette – High gloss looks nice on all furniture. It really depends on what else is in the room. I like to see different textures and sheens in a space. It will add more interest to the room. If there is already something in the room that is in high gloss, it could be too much, but if there is nothing else in the room except the doors and trim that have a sheen, I would go ahead and paint hutch bottom using high gloss. It will look fabulous.
The only thing to think about: If painting with a light color, don’t use oil-based paint if the room doesn’t get a lot of light. It will yellow over time. Use a water-based high gloss paint, you can use it on all pieces of furniture and in any light.
Diane, just stumbled upon this blog and glad I did! You’ve got great ideas here and your paint choices are two of our favorites! I’m a big fan of Gidden and glossy paints add some really great texture and light many of the rooms we work on. Keep up the great work!
Thank you, thank you, thank you! I have a number of items that need to be painted gloss white. I’ve tried several paints and none gives the finish I want – and that you achieved.
Do you always have to sand and prime before painting baseboards and door trim? Can you just wipe it all down with liquid sander or tsp or something and paint it with a fresh coat of paint? Will it stick? Also, unrelated, is there ANY way at all to really clean matte finish paint? We have it from end to end in our house and twin preschoolers. The do not mix well!
Hi Cathleen – I would only prime baseboards if they had oil-based paint on them and I was going to use latex over it. If you don’t prime in this situation, the latex will rub right off when it is dry. When I am repainting with latex over latex, I simply clean the baseboards well with detergent, rinse, and dry. Then paint.
The only way I know of to clean flat or matte surfaces is with a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. It gets off quite a bit. They sell them in the cleaning aisle at the supermarket.
THANK YOU FOR ALL THE INFO ON PAINTING. I DID NOT GET THIS INFO FROM THE STORE.
The mirror is beautiful and I love how the shine pops in the room. When it comes to choosing paint, I’m at a complete loss. The baseboards in my home need painting. Could you please suggest something. I want a nice sheen, maybe something I could use on door frames also. I know you are a busy bee and I hate bothering you with my problem but I trust you. If you told me to jump I’d jump…Lol. Thanks Diane
I like your finished dresser & mirror so much! The periwinkle is so pretty–one of my favs! Have you ever used BM Advance paint? It’s an alkyd that comes in waterborne version & I LOVE it! I dont love to paint & avoided gloss like the plague due to all the brush marks & application difficulties. But, this paint has changed my mind–we are methodically (read: slowly) changing all our interior trim & baseboards. I am the designated painter & the Advance has made me look like a Pro–self-leveling, smooth application & water cleanup, using both semi gloss & high gloss. I sound like a free commercial–but with all the wonderful rips & projects you share, wanted to reciprocate with one I love.
Do you have a tutorial on painting the recessed lights? Never thought of it but it would definitely brighten spots of our home, great idea. Thanks.
Sorry, didn’t see the highlighted link to them, found it!
You’re right, the glossy mirror looks great against the flat paint on the wall! Fun little update with a bright impact
I wish I had asked you before buying the Behr Premium Plus….. Interior/Exterior Hi Gloss Enamel. I got the Ultra Pure White. But I am afraid to even try using it…… I can not get my baseboards smooth for anything…. too many layers of not properly applied paint I guess? The trim around the insuite bath…… just peeled off.. …… but of course not completely or smoothly……… SCREAM. I wish I could replace them, but no money and my BF says I will tear up the wall if I try removing them (thinking I would soak scrape or whatever and then put them back on)…….. he says NO……… and I am a coward.
Hi Sheryll – Behr is a great brand to use. As you stated there are too many layers of previous paint for you to get a smooth finish. The baseboards can be stripped, but that is a huge job. If the paint came off on the trim around your in-suite bath, it could be that you used latex over a previous paint finish of oil-based paint. You need to use a primer first, then a latex when painting over oil and the peeling won’t happen. I use Glidden Gripper to do this. The builder of my house used all oil on the trim. I almost have it all repainted. It only took 20 years :-)
I love this high gloss paint . I would love to try it .
What color did you use on your door frame then ? What about the actual door?
And the ceiling , what sheen is that ? And color . TIA :)
I love your dresser too
Hi Kathy – The door and frame is Sherwin Williams Pure White. The ceiling is Valspar right off the shelf white in flat.