The History of High Gloss Paint

History of high gloss paint

High gloss paint is popular today for its shiny modern look, but this style is far from new. Glossy paint finishes have been around for centuries, and the history and evolution of this paint style is quite interesting.

When it comes to paint, history shows us how this common product has changed over time — in its ingredients, manufacture and uses, as well as how different sheens and finishes came into popularity and how they were viewed. Let’s take a closer look into the history of high gloss paint, as well as paint itself. We promise it’s far more interesting than watching paint dry.

The Invention of Paint

Before we get to the unique history of high gloss paint, let’s explore the origin of painting itself. For tens of thousands of years, people have been fascinated with paint, using it to tell stories, create artwork and color our world.

Earliest Uses of Paint

It is unknown exactly when the first paint was invented, but some sources trace it back more than 30,000-40,000 years ago, and it may even be much older than that. Cave-dwelling people used primitive versions of paint to create depictions of everyday life, such as footprints and animals, as well as symbols meant as messages to others. These early paints were a combination of animal fats, soil and different minerals to create a limited color palette of browns with black and white and a little red and yellow.

Many ancient civilizations used various types of paints to decorate temples and tombs. Over time, different minerals and ingredients were used to achieve a wider variety of colors. Blue pigments didn’t come along until around 6,000 years ago, when lapis lazuli was used in ultramarine blue paint. Originally, these blue paints were among the most expensive pigments, and only the wealthy could afford these colors.

Paint and the Industrial Revolution

Thousands of years later, during the industrial revolution, paint became a recognized and important product in the U.S. economy. In 1700, the first U.S.-based paint mill opened in Boston, manufacturing standardized paint products. The first patent for “ready-mixed” paints later appeared in 1867 by D.R. Averill from Ohio.

At this time, industrial mechanization was making paint manufacturing easier, and many factories popped up to produce paint in heavily populated and industrial areas. The paint was heavy and difficult to transport, though, so production was still very localized.

Paint in the 1900s

In the 1900s, the history of paints and coatings saw new markets arise for these products, with paint being used on everything from homes to cars, furniture and electronics.

This exploding industry provides many advances in the world of paint, including a wider variety of colors and finishes, as well as changes to the materials being used to make paints. Environmental and health concerns prompted paint manufacturers to do away with lead and arsenic, previously common ingredients in paint. Synthetic resins also became more common instead of oils for the base of paints.

The Invention and Popularity of High Gloss Paint

The slick appearance of high gloss paint is often associated with contemporary styles, but the truth is that this paint finish and style has been around since the time of the ancient Egyptians. In fact, high gloss was often the default sheen for many paint jobs, and the challenge was to reduce the glossy quality of these paints.

In the 1600s, colonial settlers arriving in the Americas were already used to high gloss paints and wanted these finishes in their new homes. The main advantage of high gloss wall paint was that the sheen helped to bounce more light around a room — a handy benefit at a time when candles were the main source of home lighting.

Even though high gloss paints were highly desirable at this time, they were often difficult to obtain and could be quite expensive. Many settlers at this time simply did not have the money for such luxuries as house paint.

House painting at this time was also not a DIY job but instead required a team of skilled artisans to complete any house painting project. These projects lasted several days, as the gloss household paints needed several coats applied to achieve the full effect. Still, others preferred to not paint their interiors at all, or perhaps only the high-traffic areas that could get dirty more quickly.

Advances in High Gloss Paint

Over time, and as the paint industry expanded, high gloss wall paints, and really all types of paints, became more widely available and were more cost-effective. These cost-effective production processes meant that the sheen of many paints diminished over time, however.

Gloss level of paint indicated wealth and class

At this point in the history of house paint, flat finishes were far more common. In response to this, the upper class and wealthier individuals looked to find another way to differentiate themselves from everyone else by turning back to high gloss paint and its light-reflective properties. The gloss level of paint became a way to indicate wealth and high class for those who could afford the glossiest paint. Enamel was the ultimate show of wealth, as it required at least 10 undercoats, with specialized work in between each coat.

High Gloss Paint Today

Today, high gloss paint is well-known for its ability to light up and open up a room. It’s seen as a modern, upscale style for any home that’s sure to impress. High gloss paint can be used on furniture, exteriors, interior walls and ceilings. But any paint job using high gloss paint is still best when left in the hands of professionals, like those at Shoreline High Gloss. To achieve the perfect glossy sheen, it requires precision and extra work with each coat. However, the effect is stunning.

Make Your Home Shine With Shoreline High Gloss

Want to make your home shine and set it apart from your neighbors’ homes? Shoreline High Gloss has more than 35 years of experience with professional painting and high gloss paint, with a varied portfolio of gorgeous projects. Our team of talented artisans can help you achieve that beautiful glossy finish you dream of, no matter if your project is big or small. We pride ourselves on achieving the rare designation of Fine Paints of Europe Master Certified Painters and will bring our expertise to every job.

Our team is ready to take on your project and provide the professional high gloss painting of your dreams. Request a consultation today with our simple online contact form.


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