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6 Secrets to Silky Smooth Paint

6-secrets-to-silky-smooth-paintOkay, this isn’t really a secret like professional painters are guarding this information jealously, hoping and praying you’ll never find out. There are no secret paint police to prevent the average homeowner from knowing their tricks.

It’s just plain good sense to know how to get a super smooth coat of paint when you need it, and that’s what I’ll show you today. Trim, cabinets, woodwork, these all need smooth paint without brush marks and globs of paint scattered throughout. Follow these tips and you can get beautiful results.


1. Prep the Wood

Sand any bare wood to 120-grit and no finer. This will give the primer good “tooth” to hold on and create the right base to start with. A good paint job is all in the prep before you even touch a paint brush.


2. Sand Your Primer

Without a smooth base, you can’t get a smooth finish. I always use oil-based primer on woodwork and cabinets so that I can sand it down to a super smooth feel before beginning my finish painting. Use 220-grit paper or fine sanding sponges to sand everything down once the primer has dried enough that it generates dust when sanded. If it’s gumming up the paper, then it’s too early to sand. Make sure to blow off any remaining dust when you’re done.

3. Use Additives

I’m a big believer in products like Floetrol and Penetrol, which are additives for your paint that slow down the drying process and make the paint less gummy. Thinner paint lays down better and helps hide brush marks. Thick, gloppy paint will look…thick and gloppy. Fast drying is not a positive thing for paint when you want a silky smooth finish. If you’re not using these already, look into them.


4. Buy The Right Paint

Don’t skimp on paint. It truly does turn out that the more you pay for paint, the better it is. And for finish work like we are talking about, don’t buy bargain paint. For woodwork and cabinets, consider Enamel paint which dries harder than regular paint. Oil-based paints along with water-based options both have their place here, depending on your comfort.


5. Strain Your Paint

The first pour out of the can is usually clean and clear of boogers, but every pour after that has a good chance of globs scattered throughout. You likely won’t see them until they are on your beautifully prepped surface, at which time, it’s too late. Paint stores have lots of cheap strainers in stock for good reason. Don’t kid yourself that this step doesn’t apply to you.


6. Put it On, Leave it Alone

Put the paint on and once it’s smoothed out, leave it alone. Don’t go back and work the paint relentlessly. The quicker you can get the surface covered and “tipped off”, the more time the paint has to smooth out as it dries. Don’t go back and mess with drips that you notice while things are drying. You’ll have to fix it later with the next coat. Put it on, smooth it out and leave it alone. Don’t go back.

Try one of these and you’ll see better results. Try two and you’ll be amazed. Do them all and you’ll have flawless silky smooth paint. Remember that some of these are techniques that take a little practice to get just right, so don’t be frustrated if it takes a little time to get perfect. Even the pros don’t get it perfect every time. But in painting, as in everything else, practice makes perfect.


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102 thoughts on “6 Secrets to Silky Smooth Paint

  1. We are painting a new house. We have primed and painted 1 coat. The problem is the sanding marks are showing through. Can we roll the next coat? Or do we need to sand it all down and start over?

  2. Should u put a clear coat over enamel on painted furniture? If I’m using a Satin finish Enamel paint, which clear coat do u recommend if needed? Thank u. Love this post.

  3. This is a brilliant post, thank you for sharing about 6 secrets to silky smooth paint. We always tend to change something or the other in our house, thanks for this great advice. Great points!! I love this blog; please keep updated us with such information.

  4. Thanks for highlighting that choosing the right material to paint on and equipment to use before a painting job can lead to success. I noticed that the paint on our walls is slowly chipping so I plan to repaint the walls next week. It seems like I need to make sure that the paint that I will be using will be filtered using a paint strainer accordingly by the hardware store without charging me additional fees. https://sprayright.com/

  5. I am trying to spray cabinets and get a smooth finish. But the spraying is spraying more clumpy where it looks textured. How can i get that smooth finish?

    1. Are you using an HVLP sprayer? Is the paint thinned down far enough? You will likely need 2-4 coats with a somewhat thinned paint.

  6. I just painted a dresser with behr mat finish paint how long do I have to wait before I top coat it with poly urethane

  7. I used a spray painter to paint 2 dressers. The paint is not smooth it’s rough to the touch . I put 2 coats of paint on each dresser after it was primed. What can I do or put to smooth it out to the touch. Is there a product to apply to them to make it at least look professional and feel smooth to the touch. I have searched all over the web and really have no answers.i hope this doesn’t turn into a total nightmare. Thank You Susan

    1. Gonna have to sand it smooth and paint again. This time you likely need to paint a little heavier. Often when you get that rough feel it’s because of either overspray or not printing a thick enough coat so it dries almost instantaneously and doesn’t have a chance to level out.

  8. Is there a power tool that can help speed up the prep/sanding process and leave a smoother surface?

  9. I painted our stairs with enamel turned out great but took along time to dry and our dog walked up them and left big paw prints, now how do i fi thwm

  10. Hi, I read your 6 Secrets but forgot by the time I started rolling with a beautiful red. Unfortunately, I painted top half then bottom half. Yep have a distinct line in the middle. Can I sand the line out by using 180 grit before applying the second coat? Thank you so much. Sherri

  11. I m restoring a jennyLind type oak wood stained dark cradle with slats versus styles. I did remove the gloss and then sanded all of it down. Then I started painting once, rwice and I am ready for the final layer.
    It looks like a pain brush sat on it at some areas and smooth on others.
    Should I sand all of it until it is totally even? Sounds I should! I am not a very good painter. I did ask before but no answer came from on the internet. Or, maybe I missed it.
    Thank you.
    Loes krane

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