How To Dull A Glossy Finish: 3 Effective Methods For Everyone

Glossy finishes are common in a wide range of fixtures and products. As a DIY enthusiast or an experienced carpenter, there will come a time that you want to swap out the glossy look for more matte finishes. Hence, knowing how to dull a glossy finish will be useful.

Whatever the task you will be in charge of, dulling glossy finishes is not as complicated as it may appear.

There are several ways to achieve a matte finish, depending on your preferences. We’ll walk you through the best options.

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3 Common Methods To Dull A Glossy Finish

Sanding and Polishing Method

Sanding and polishing is the most straightforward approach. Ideally, it would be best if you started with this method. To begin, you will require:

  • Sandpaper: You’ll need a wide selection of grits. We suggest grits of 220, 320, 400, and 600. Finer sandpaper may be necessary. 
  • Dust cloths: Any cotton cloth will suffice. Microfiber is also an option. Ensure you have a few clean clothes on hand because they will quickly become dirty.
  • Orbital sander: You may not require an orbital sander. It all involves the level of matte finish desired. 
  • Polishing compounds: You will need these substances for the use of an orbital sander. Get a finer and a coarse compound. 
  • All of these items are available at your neighborhood hardware store.

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Step 1 ‒ Sanding

To begin, wipe your item down in a soapy water tank to get rid of any dirt or debris from the surface. 

Before you begin, you must determine the thickness of your piece’s topcoat. If it is too thick, sand it with sandpaper at the grit of 220 or 320 

If you are uncertain about how thick the coat is, then you can start with 400-grit. This option avoids discarding too much of the surface layer. Or else you risk causing damage to the underneath of your actual wood. After that, use a little soapy water to wipe down the rubbed surface.

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Following that, you must have the surface evened out to get rid of any buffing marks. Use 600-grit sandpaper to rub the top coat one more time, and then you wipe it down. Doing so removes any inconsistencies. If you are satisfied with the current state of the surface, you are almost done. 

Choose 800-grit sandpaper if you need to restore some gloss. Continue working with finer sandpaper until you achieve the desired finish. In general, the higher grit sandpaper offers smoother finishes. 

Further reading: The Only 3 Sandpapers You Really Need

Step 2 ‒ Coarse Polishing

If the previous step didn’t give you the desired result, move on to this one. You will now require an electric sander. 

Instead of using a traditional orbital sheet sander, it is better to choose a random one to achieve greater versatility and more professional results while working.  

If you don’t have an orbital sheet sander available in your hand, it is a great idea to search some of the most recent models on the Internet before purchasing. You can buy one online with ease. Nonetheless, it would be best if you first went to some local hardware stores and directly held the sander, feeling its grip and weight. 

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After you’ve prepared your orbital sander, proceed as follows:

  • Put the compound of coarse polishing over the buffing pad of the sander. Carefully check the surface without putting any extra pressure on it. 
  • Use soapy water to clean the surface. Allow it to cure fully. 
  • Re-sand by using the finer polishing compound for more sheen. 

Now, You might get a professional-looking top finish. Generally speaking, the majority of people are content at this stage. 

If you are still not convinced, keep reading. We will go over another approach.

Sanding and Finishing Method

The technique involved in sanding and finishing often is a better approach for some projects. You will need the following hardware store items for this method:

  • Clean dust cloths
  • Matte finishing spray
  • 220-grit sandpaper

Step 1 – Rough up the Surface

If you tried the polishing method described above and it didn’t work, you’ll need to discard the compound with which you combined a solvent. And then, you sand down the piece with 220-grit paper. 

If you are just getting started on one piece, use coarse sandpaper to buff its surface all over.

Step 2 – Spray the Finish

After that, wipe the piece down and leave it to dry. Once the piece is dry and clean, gently spray it using the coat of matte finishing. Begin with a light coat, let it cure, and then re-spray.

You can cautiously apply the finish again as many times as necessary to obtain the wanted appearance, but make sure to leave it to cure thoroughly every time before you decide to re-apply.

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Spraying can be a difficult task at times. While spraying, your hand should stay steady at a constant distance from the piece.

Deglossing Method for Metal Parts

Suppose the furniture piece you’re working on has glossy metal fixtures, like handles and locks, and you want to give them a more matte look? Don’t worry, and you can easily do so.

Assume the piece of furniture you’re dealing with features an airbrushed metal fixture, like handles and locks. Also, you want to give it a more matte appearance. With that in mind, you’ll need the following items from the hardware store:

  • Dust-cleaning cloths
  • Clear matte varnish spray
  • Liquid de-glosser
  • A brush (unnecessary)

Step 1 – Detach the Metal Parts

If you can remove the metal pieces on the furniture, do so and take them off the wood. If not, you can cover cloth strips over the surface of your wood for better protection.

Step 2 – Apply Deglosser

  • Pour a few drops of liquid deglosser over a clean cloth. Then, use that soaked cloth to rub the metal part. In this step, you do the rubbing in a circular motion.
  • Continue to apply deglosser with the cloth. Remember to change the cloth regularly to prevent dirt from adhering to the surface. 
  • Check the piece after a half-hour wait. Use a brush to apply another deglosser coat if you find it still too glossy. Let the piece dry for a few minutes. 

Repeat this step until the piece reaches the degree of glossiness to your liking.

Step 3 – Spray on Varnish

  • Shake the varnish thoroughly before spraying. The can should stay about 10 cm away while you are spraying. Spray as evenly as possible across the surface. 
  • Allow 10 minutes for it to dry. Apply another layer of spray. 
  • Allow three hours for the piece to dry. 

The top coat of varnish will protect the finish.

Safety Tips For Dulling A Glossy Finish

Safety is always a priority whenever you are handling chemicals or tools.

  • Make sure that you are working in well-ventilated areas. 
  • Put on a mask whenever working.
  • Keep paints that are easily flammable away from fires and heat sources. 
  • Take extra precautions when working with chemical compounds or spray paints. 
  • Wear goggles as well. Or else your eyes get injured from vapors and dust. 

Wrapping Up

Anyone who works with wood furniture daily should know how to dull a glossy finish effectively and efficiently. In general, it is a pretty simple skill to learn. We believe, with some practice, you can achieve a perfect result like a pro.