How do you decide which sheen is best for your customers' floors? The main difference between matte, semi-gloss, and high-gloss finish is the level of sheen or reflectivity produced. Matte finishes produce a low sheen and appear more subdued, while semi-gloss finishes have a moderate sheen that is smoother and more lustrous than matte but less reflective than glossy finishes. Glossy finishes, the most reflective of the three sheens, can almost create a mirror-like effect between the floor and its surroundings.
When it comes to choosing the best finish, the specific requirements of the space need to be examined.
Key Factors to Consider When Choosing a Sheen
Because glossy finishes create an enormous amount of reflectivity, they work well in rooms with large windows or bright artificial lighting, as they enhance brightness and add visual interest. Glossy finishes, especially high gloss, can add a touch of elegance and sophistication to a space.
Another important reason to choose a high gloss finish is that there is a common perception that "shiny = clean", notably in healthcare environments. In other words, if a floor is reflective, then it is often believed that it is well-maintained and free from dirt, dust, and debris.
On the other hand, matte finishes offer a more natural and relaxed look with minimal light reflection. They provide a neutral character and highlight the materials for a raw, organic appearance.
Semi-gloss and matte finishes offer a subtle sheen without being overly reflective. This option is a great compromise between wanting your floor to shine but also needing a slip-resistant solution.
Glossy finishes tend to show dirt and debris more easily compared to semi-gloss or matte finishes. They require regular cleaning and maintenance to keep their pristine appearance.
Alternatively, a semi-gloss sheen disperses light and is better at concealing dust and flaws, so it is easier to maintain. Because matte finishes are excellent at hiding soil and imperfections like scuffs or scratches, they can be more suitable for high-activity areas.
Perhaps the most important factor to consider when choosing a coating is the safety of the floors in a given space. For example, in long-term care facilities, the lower shine of matte coatings is safer for residents with visual and/or neurological impairments, because it prevents any glare from natural and artificial lighting that may cause loss of balance and potential slips, trips, and falls. Floors coated with a finish mixed with a traction additive are, by nature, less reflective and can be formulated to meet ADA and OSHA non-slip traction recommendations (for specifics on the current standard by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), click HERE). These additives are also instrumental in areas that are prone to the presence of moisture, especially near building entrances. To learn more, see our page on Health and Safety.
How to Achieve Matte, Semi-Gloss, and Gloss Finishes
Ultra Durable Technologies offers its supreme clear coating, EPIC High-Performance Floor Finish, that protects and beautifies floors for 3 to 5 years or longer. EPIC is available in high-gloss and matte formulas and is suited for a variety of floor types such as LVT, VCT, and tile and grout. Additionally, the type of sheen such as semi-gloss can easily be customized by mixing EPIC with its proprietary traction additives, either Ultra Grip or UDT Aggregate Additive.
Coarser grits typically offer higher traction than finer grits. However, when mixed into EPIC High Gloss, coarser grits yield a higher sheen than the finer grits that tend to reduce gloss levels more significantly.
Ultimately, the choice between matte, semi-gloss, and high-gloss finishes for your flooring depends on your customers' aesthetic preferences and the practical considerations of maintenance and floor safety.