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A Comprehensive Guide to Gloss Levels in Flooring

When it comes to choosing the perfect flooring for your home or commercial space, there are several factors to consider, including material, durability, maintenance, and of course, aesthetics. The gloss levels of your flooring is a crucial aspect of its visual appeal, and it plays a significant role in defining the atmosphere of a room. Flooring can range from a soft, muted matte finish to a stunning high-gloss shine, with various options in between. In this article, we will explore how flooring luster is measured and delve into the various styles of gloss that flooring comes in, such as Matte, Satin, Semi-gloss, and High gloss.

Understanding Gloss Levels

Gloss levels in flooringGloss level refers to the amount of light that a surface reflects. Flooring materials can be categorized into different gloss levels, ranging from low reflectivity to high reflectivity. The choice of gloss level can dramatically affect the overall look and feel of a room, making it an important decision when selecting flooring. Let’s delve into the four primary gloss levels: Matte, Satin, Semi-gloss, and High gloss.


Matte flooring is known for its low gloss level, which means it reflects very little light. As a result, matte flooring appears soft, subtle, and understated. This style of flooring is often favored for its ability to hide minor imperfections and scratches effectively, making it a popular choice in high-traffic areas. Matte flooring is an excellent option for spaces where a sleek, modern look is desired without an overwhelming shine.

Pros of Matte Flooring:

  1. Conceals imperfections: Matte flooring is excellent at hiding minor scuffs, scratches, and dirt, making it a practical choice for busy households and commercial spaces.
  2. Elegant and sophisticated: The low-gloss finish adds an air of sophistication and subtlety to any room.
  3. Low maintenance: Easier to clean and maintain due to its forgiving nature.

Cons of Matte Flooring:

  1. Vulnerable to stains: While matte flooring hides minor imperfections, it can be more susceptible to stains due to its porous nature.
  2. Less reflectivity: Matte flooring may make rooms feel smaller or darker because it doesn’t reflect much light.


Satin flooring strikes a balance between matte and gloss levels, offering a moderate level of shine. This level of gloss provides a hint of luster while still maintaining a refined and understated look. Satin flooring is a versatile choice, suitable for both residential and commercial settings, as it combines the elegance of gloss with the practicality of matte.

Pros of Satin Flooring:

  1. Balances aesthetics and practicality: Satin flooring combines the benefits of both matte and high gloss, offering an attractive appearance with easy maintenance.
  2. Conceals minor imperfections: While not as effective as matte in hiding flaws, satin flooring still does a good job.
  3. Suitable for various settings: Its moderate shine makes it versatile for different spaces.

Cons of Satin Flooring:

  1. May still show some imperfections: While it conceals minor flaws better than high gloss flooring, it may not completely hide scratches or marks.
  2. Slightly less reflection: Satin flooring may not create the same level of luminosity and spaciousness as high gloss flooring.


Semi-gloss flooring takes a step closer to high gloss, reflecting more light and creating a polished and somewhat shiny appearance. It strikes a balance between a glossy finish and ease of maintenance, making it a popular choice for a range of settings, from kitchens to bathrooms and offices.

Pros of Semi-Gloss Flooring:

  1. Reflects more light: Semi-gloss flooring creates a more open and luminous feel in a room.
  2. Durable and easy to clean: It is more resilient against stains and scratches than matte flooring.
  3. Suitable for high-traffic areas: Semi-gloss is often chosen for kitchens, bathrooms, and commercial spaces due to its durability.

Cons of Semi-Gloss Flooring:

  1. Imperfections may be more visible: While it conceals minor flaws, it may still show moderate scratches and wear and tear.
  2. Not as shiny as high gloss: For those seeking an ultra-glossy look, semi-gloss may not provide the desired level of shine.

High Gloss

High gloss flooring is the epitome of shine and reflectivity. It creates a dazzling, mirror-like finish that is highly luxurious and modern. High gloss flooring is a statement choice, transforming any room into a sleek and high-end space. However, it’s worth noting that high gloss flooring requires regular maintenance to keep it looking its best.

Pros of High Gloss Flooring:

  1. Ultimate shine: High gloss flooring reflects light brilliantly, giving a room a polished, glamorous look.
  2. Makes spaces appear larger: The reflective properties of high gloss can create an illusion of spaciousness.
  3. Easy to clean and maintain with proper care.

Cons of High Gloss Flooring:

  1. Shows imperfections easily: Any minor scratches or scuffs will be highly visible on high gloss surfaces.
  2. Requires frequent cleaning: Fingerprints and smudges are more noticeable on high gloss flooring, necessitating regular maintenance.

Measuring Flooring Luster

To quantify and standardize gloss levels in flooring, the industry uses a measurement known as the gloss level scale. This scale quantifies the amount of light reflected off a surface at a specific angle, typically 60 degrees. The measurement is expressed in gloss units (GU), with higher values indicating higher gloss levels. Here’s a general breakdown of gloss levels on the scale:

  • 0-10 GU: Matte
  • 11-35 GU: Satin
  • 36-70 GU: Semi-gloss
  • 71+ GU: High gloss

The gloss level scale provides a clear reference point for manufacturers, retailers, and consumers when choosing flooring materials. It ensures that everyone involved understands the expected level of reflectivity for a given product.

Selecting the Right Gloss Level for Your Space

Choosing the right gloss level for your flooring involves considering several factors, including the intended use of the space, your personal preferences, and practicality. Let’s explore different scenarios to help you make an informed decision:

Residential Spaces

  1. Living Rooms and Bedrooms: These areas benefit from the warmth and comfort of matte or satin finishes. They create a cozy and relaxed atmosphere, ideal for unwinding and spending time with family.
  2. Kitchens: For a balance of elegance and practicality, satin or semi-gloss flooring works well in kitchens. These gloss levels are durable and easy to clean, making them perfect for the inevitable spills and foot traffic in this area.
  3. Bathrooms: High gloss flooring can add a touch of luxury to bathrooms. The reflective surface creates a modern, spa-like ambiance. However, it’s essential to consider the slip resistance of the chosen material for safety.
  4. Children’s Rooms and Play Areas: Consider durable and easy-to-clean flooring with a satin or semi-gloss finish. These gloss levels can withstand the wear and tear of active children.

Commercial Spaces

  1. Offices: Depending on the aesthetic you want to create, both satin and semi-gloss flooring can be suitable for office spaces. They add a touch of professionalism while ensuring practicality.
  2. Retail Stores: High gloss flooring can enhance the appearance of products and create an upscale shopping experience. However, it requires regular maintenance to keep it looking pristine.
  3. Restaurants: For an upscale restaurant, high gloss can create a sophisticated and glamorous ambiance. In more casual eateries, satin or semi-gloss can provide a practical yet attractive solution.
  4. Hospitals and Healthcare Facilities: Matte or satin flooring is often preferred in healthcare settings as it offers a more calming and less clinical atmosphere.
  5. Hotels: Hotels often use a combination of gloss levels, with high gloss in lobbies and common areas for a luxurious feel and satin or semi-gloss in guest rooms for practicality.

Personal Preferences

Ultimately, your personal taste plays a significant role in your flooring choice. Some people love the opulence and drama of high gloss, while others prefer the understated elegance of matte or satin finishes. It’s essential to strike a balance between aesthetics and functionality to ensure you’re happy with your choice in the long run.

Flooring Materials and Gloss Levels

The gloss level of flooring is influenced by the material used. Different materials react differently to finishes, and it’s crucial to choose a material that complements the gloss level you desire. Here’s a breakdown of common flooring materials and the gloss levels they can achieve:


Hardwood flooring is a popular choice for its natural beauty and durability. It can be finished to achieve various gloss levels, making it a versatile option.

  • Matte: Matte hardwood flooring is available and provides a subtle, rustic look.
  • Satin: Satin finishes are common for hardwood, offering a balance between shine and practicality.
  • Semi-gloss: This gloss level enhances the wood’s natural beauty while providing some shine.
  • High gloss: Achieving high gloss on hardwood may require specialized finishes, and it’s not as common due to maintenance concerns.


Laminate flooring can mimic the appearance of various materials, including hardwood, stone, and tile. It’s known for its affordability and ease of maintenance.

  • Matte: Matte laminate flooring is common and helps replicate the appearance of natural wood or stone.
  • Satin: Satin finishes are also readily available and provide a sleek look.
  • Semi-gloss: Some laminate options offer semi-gloss finishes, adding a bit of shine.
  • High gloss: Achieving high gloss on laminate is possible, but it’s less common due to the material’s limitations in replicating natural wood or stone.


Vinyl flooring is known for its versatility and is available in various styles, including sheet vinyl, vinyl tiles, and luxury vinyl planks (LVP).

  • Matte: Matte vinyl is a popular choice for replicating the appearance of stone or ceramic tiles.
  • Satin: Satin finishes are available and are often used in vinyl plank flooring to create a realistic wood look.
  • Semi-gloss: Vinyl with semi-gloss finishes is less common but can provide a shiny surface.
  • High gloss: High gloss vinyl is readily available and can create a striking, reflective look.


Tile flooring comes in various materials, including ceramic, porcelain, and natural stone. The gloss level of tile can be influenced by the glaze used.

  • Matte: Matte tile is common in both ceramic and porcelain varieties, offering a non-reflective, subtle finish.
  • Satin: Some tiles have satin finishes, providing a bit of shine without being overly reflective.
  • Semi-gloss: Semi-gloss tiles are commonly used for walls, backsplashes, and decorative accents.
  • High gloss: High gloss tiles are often used in commercial spaces and areas where a highly reflective surface is desired.

Maintenance Tips for Different Gloss Levels

The gloss level of your flooring also affects the maintenance routine required to keep it looking its best. Here are some general maintenance tips for each gloss level:


  • Regularly sweep or vacuum to remove dust and dirt.
  • Clean spills promptly to prevent staining.
  • Use a microfiber mop with a damp, not wet, cloth for mopping.


  • Regularly sweep or vacuum to remove dust and dirt.
  • Clean spills promptly to prevent staining.
  • Mop with a damp cloth, and a pH-neutral floor cleaner.


  • Sweep or vacuum regularly.
  • Wipe away spills promptly.
  • Mop with a damp cloth and a mild, pH-neutral floor cleaner.

High Gloss:

  • Frequent sweeping or vacuuming is essential to prevent scratches from abrasive particles.
  • Promptly wipe away spills to prevent staining.
  • Mop with a damp, microfiber cloth and a pH-neutral floor cleaner specifically designed for high gloss surfaces.


The gloss level of your flooring plays a significant role in defining the overall aesthetics and atmosphere of a space. Understanding the various gloss levels, from matte to high gloss, and how they are measured can help you make an informed decision when choosing flooring for your residential or commercial spaces. Consider factors such as the room’s function, personal preferences, and maintenance requirements when selecting the ideal gloss level. With the right choice, you can create a beautiful, functional, and lasting flooring solution that complements your space’s style and purpose.

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