Is High-Gloss or Semi-Gloss Better for Kitchen Cabinets?

Choosing the right paint finish can help give your kitchen cabinets that special touch you’ve been searching for. So which should you choose: semi-gloss or high gloss?

High-gloss finishes stand up better to wear and tear than other finishes, making them an ideal choice for kitchen cabinets. High-gloss paints also reflect more light, giving the room a bright, clean look. However, these paints are more difficult to work with and may require multiple coats.

In this article, you will learn the following:

  • The factors to consider when choosing a paint finish for kitchen cabinets
  • The pros and cons of semi-gloss paint
  • The pros and cons of high-gloss paint
  • How to decide between semi-gloss and high-gloss

4 Essential Factors for Choosing the Perfect Paint Finish

Here are some key factors to consider when picking a paint finish for your kitchen cabinets.


One of the most important considerations when choosing a paint finish is its durability. Kitchens get plenty of use and wear and tear, so your paint needs to hold up against frequent exposure to heat, moisture, grease, and food splashes. Finishes with higher gloss levels are more durable than those with lower ones.

Visual appeal

Another important factor to consider when choosing a paint finish for kitchen cabinets is the visual effect it will create.

A higher-gloss paint finish will provide a more polished, luxurious look, while a flatter finish creates a more subtle, muted effect. It all comes down to personal preference and the overall aesthetic you are trying to create in your kitchen.

Easy maintenance 

The last thing you want is a paint job that requires constant upkeep and maintenance. A higher-gloss paint finish is easier to clean and maintain than a low-gloss one. Since the surface is smoother, it’s less prone to collecting dirt and dust, making it simpler to wipe down with a damp cloth.

Mold and mildew resistance

In kitchens where water and moisture are common, mildew can be a problem. Paint finishes with a high gloss level are less prone to developing mildew than those with a lower level, making them the better option.

Pros and Cons of High-Gloss Paint

High-gloss paint is a great choice for kitchen cabinets due to its modern, sleek look and easy cleaning. It also has several other advantages, making it a popular choice among homeowners. 


The glossy finish of high-gloss makes it resistant to dirt, grease, and moisture. It can withstand heavy wear and tear from everyday use.

Its glossy sheen also makes it much easier to clean than other paints. A quick wipe with a damp cloth is usually all that is needed for a sparkling finish that looks new. 

Its bright sheen can add an interesting contrast against more muted or natural tones in the room, while its reflective properties can help create the illusion of a larger space. Plus, high-gloss paint can easily fit into any style or decor scheme because of its modern look. 

Additionally, high-gloss paint is more durable than other coatings. It will not wear or chip easily, making it ideal for high-traffic areas like the kitchen.


Although high-gloss paint has many advantages, it also has a few drawbacks. Applying it can be difficult and requires multiple coats for the best results. This makes it more costly and 

time-consuming than finishes requiring only one or two coats.

Additionally, its reflective properties can make imperfections on the surface more visible. This means that if you have any blemishes or flaws in your cabinets, they may be more obvious with a high-gloss finish.

Finally, its intense shine can be overwhelming in a smaller kitchen, so it’s best to keep this paint finish limited to larger spaces.

Pros and Cons of Semi-Gloss Paint

Semi-gloss paint is an excellent choice for giving kitchen cabinets an attractive, modern look. This type of finish offers a shinier, more reflective appearance than flat or matte paint but without the strong glare associated with glossy paints.


Using semi-gloss paint for kitchen cabinets offers many advantages, making it a popular choice for many homeowners. The first benefit is the moderate shine that semi-gloss can provide. This shine is not too overpowering but adds a subtle elegance to any kitchen.

In addition, semi-gloss is more forgiving when it comes to repairs. Since it has less sheen than its high-gloss counterpart, touch-ups are easier to blend in.

From an aesthetic perspective, semi-gloss cabinets feature a softer look than high-gloss. Semi-gloss also does an excellent job of resisting moisture damage and holding up against wear and tear due to its durability and protective properties.


Semi-gloss is not as durable as high-gloss options. Since the paint has a lower sheen, scratches, and dents are more visible on semi-gloss surfaces than on high-gloss ones. It may also fade over time due to sunlight, heat, and moisture exposure. 

Furthermore, semi-gloss paint might not exhibit the same level of endurance as high-gloss paint when subjected to moisture.

The impact of moisture on semi-gloss paint can cause it to deteriorate faster than its glossier alternative. As a result, cabinets painted with semi-gloss may experience cracking or peeling after a few years of use.

Finally, compared to high-gloss paint, semi-gloss may need more frequent cleaning. Since the paint’s sheen is lower, dirt and dust are more visible on semi-gloss surfaces. This may mean cleaning your cabinets more often to maintain their attractive shine.

High-Gloss vs. Semi-gloss: Which Should You Choose?

The types of finish on kitchen cabinets can make a huge difference in your kitchen’s look and functionality. High-gloss and semi-gloss finishes are two popular choices for repainting kitchen cabinets.

Both provide a sleek, modern look, but there are differences between them that will influence which is the best choice for your project. 

High-gloss finishes are highly reflective and have a shiny, lacquered appearance that gives an elegant vibe. If you want your kitchen to look bigger and brighter, a high-gloss finish can help achieve that.

However, it can be difficult to apply and requires multiple coats for the best results, making it more time-consuming and costly than other finishes. 

Additionally, its reflective properties can make imperfections on the surface more visible.

In contrast, semi-gloss paint offers a more subtle, understated shine that is less overpowering than high-gloss and can be easier to apply.

It also offers greater protection against moisture damage and wear-and-tear than high-gloss finishes, although it may require more frequent cleaning.

Ultimately, the decision should be based on your personal preference and what works best for the design of your kitchen.

High-gloss finishes offer a bold, modern look, while semi-gloss paints provide a softer, more understated shine that is easier to maintain. Consider both options before making your decision to ensure you’re getting the desired results.

Joshua Milton

I want to share everything I know about home improvement in order to help you. Whether you're a home enthusiast or an industry professional, I have the information that you need.

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