Gloss Painting Techniques and Tips

90% of Gloss painting techniques boil down to preparation.

  • Make sure you have enough gloss paint to finish the job completely — if you run out you may leave an edge that will show.
  • There is also a slight risk of colour variation — if you have to work from two cans, swap over in a corner where it will not show or mix the contents of the cans before you finish the first.
  • Unless the maker specifically advises not to — as is the case with thixotropic (non-drip) paints — stir the paint thoroughly. If there is a skin on the surface, cut this away carefully and lift it off before mixing.

gloss painting techniquesYou can paint straight from the can — most people do — but it’s better to pour it into another tin first, Professionals use a proper paint kettle, but any wide shallow tin will do, providing it is completely clean and has a handle. Doing this also allows you to use paint which has got bits in it — by straining it through a filter. Fill the kettle about halfway. Flick the bristles of the brush in your fingers to remove any dust or loose hairs. Dip it into the paint about a third of the way up the bristles, then touch it gently against the side of the can to remove any surplus.

Where possible, you should aim to order your work so that you do not have to reach across an area you have already painted. In general this is easiest to arrange if you paint the windows first, then any panelling or built-in cupboards, then the doors, and finally the skirting boards.

  • You should aim to apply the paint quickly — if it dries slightly and you continue to brush, marks will appear. For the best results, work across the area in a systematic way. This varies depending on what you are painting, but the technique is much the same.
  • The object is to get as full and even a coat as possible without causing runs or leaving brush marks. In small areas which can be covered in one or two strokes, simply run along the direction of the grain of the wood, brushing the paint out evenly.
  • On larger areas, what happens is that the paint around the edge of the area you are working on dries before you come to join up to the next area, so paint in blocks.

Each block should be around 300mm to 450mm square — the most you can comfortably handle in one go — but you don’t have to draw them on; just imagine an area about that size. Apply the paint in a series of dabs about 50mm apart. Put these on quite thickly, recharging the brush from ime to time, but don’t overload it — not more than about a third of the way up the bristles.

Quickly brush the dabs out. Criss-crossing the area to join them up evenly, but aim to thin the paint coverage out to virtually no-thing around the edge of your imaginary area. Next, draw the brush gently across the whole area horizontally. Finally, to smooth out the surface, run it very lightly vertically upwards over the surface. This is called ‘laying off’.

Now recharge the brush and start a new block, a similar size to the first and about 50mm away from it. Paint it out in exactly the same way. When you come to the edges paint them out thinly as before.

Continue in the same way, adding a series of horizontal blocks until the area is covered widthways, then adding a second row below and so on. Note that this technique only works well with slow-drying paints like gloss – with quick drying paints the bottom edge of the first row is dry by the time you come to the second row, and so you get a visible join.

Most topcoats will cover sufficiently well not to need a second coat — particularly if you have applied an undercoat. But you may need to recoat in cases where the underlying colour shows through or in areas where you expect heavy wear. Make sure the first coat is thoroughly dry, then sand it down lightly with fine glasspaper before applying the second.

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