White high-gloss kitchen with an almost invisible high-gloss pantry door. Frameless jib door blends with the wall.

High-gloss interior doors — what to know

November 16, 2023

Should interior doors be glossy?

That's a great question, so let's dig deeper. Italian cabinet makers and door manufacturers pioneered high-gloss finishes in the 1970s, but the look picked up steam only in the 1990s and 2000s. Like most design trends it evolved, initially revolving around pure white finishes and handleless kitchen cabinets, then adding softer colors and shades, combined with minimalistic linear door pulls. 

Today, a brand new all-white ultra-high gloss kitchen is a rarer sight, but the iconic look is here to stay — a high gloss finish, cleverly used, has become an integral element of modern interior design and contemporary interiors. 

Designers will use reflective surfaces on contemporary-style kitchen because they reflect light effectively and make the kitchen area feel brighter and larger — a huge win, especially for smaller kitchens in condos and apartments.

So, how do reflective surfaces in the interior work together?

In our discussions with interior designers, we evaluate the planned use of high-gloss finishes and surfaces throughout the interior and review whether the space would benefit from a fully integrated or contrasting look. When natural light is limited or nonexistent in places like hallways or private foyers, we may recommend finishing the door in a specific color and a glossy finish, even though not necessarily an ultra-high polish.

No matter what marketing says about high-gloss finishes, they will show fingerprints, just like deep matte finishes. Also, you'll have to clean the high-gloss surface more frequently and apply care not to introduce micro scratches, regardless of how scratch-resistant properties the finish boasts. 

Ideal paint finish for interior doors

There are no wrong answers — the choice truly depends on the space. For most residential projects, especially those with young kids in the house, we recommend a 20% sheen that we found the most forgiving in daily use. This semi-gloss finish won't show fingerprints and dirt as much as a low-sheen or high-sheen interior door.

Are high-gloss and semi-gloss doors the same price?

No, they are not, and it all comes down to differences in the manufacturing process. We can achieve a standard semi-gloss finish using paint with specific pigmentation and resin percentage. We have to employ a different process for an ultra high-gloss finish, sometimes called mirror finish. The high gloss look is achieved by a repetitive process of painting and sanding. Our high-gloss white doors will typically go through six complete cycles of spraying, hot air drying or UV curing, and sanding (or polishing) using ultra-fine grit sandpaper.

We must perform the work consistently around the entire door slab — not merely on the smooth, flat front face. Lacquer sanding around the edges is particularily challenging — because the surfaces are small, the risk of damaging these areas increases exponentially. A precise sanding job affects the result significantly — the more accurately the sanding step is performed, the better the basis for the next layer. In some particularly hard-to-reach areas, it is often better to sand manually rather than perform machine-aided sanding. We use an edge sander with an electronically controlled pneumatic sanding pad similar to a wide belt sander — a machine designed specifically for sanding high gloss edges. This technology helps us match the quality of the other door panel surfaces. 

From start to finish, this multi-step labor intensive process of spraying, curing, sanding, and polishing can take several days simply due to the technology process requirements.

Alternatives to high-gloss doors

In addition to ultra high gloss finish, you may achieve similar results with edge-to-edge glass panel doors. A glass panel provides a similar visual effect, but on top of it it will give you an extra option of integrating your hidden door with glass panel wall closets. The fact that you control the color, the back-painted glass (a popular kitchen backsplash) may be the just the right solution for your space. Our Dorsis Fortius hidden frameless doors can receive back-painted glass panels on both sides.

Dorsis Fortius hidden frameless door with edge-to-edge mirror sitting flush with the wall. Door looks like a hallway mirror.a
Hidden door masquerading as a hallway mirror — Dorsis Fortius concealed frame door with edge-to-edge mirror sitting flush with the wall.