I’ve shared a general “how to paint furniture” tutorial, and covered this topic a little bit there, but I thought I would elaborate some more on how to eliminate brush strokes and get a smooth finish when painting furniture. It’s a common issue and I get questions about this often.
There are a few key methods you can use to get a smooth finish, so I’ll go over the top 3 ways that I’ve found have worked the best.
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Sand Between Coats
The number one thing I recommend when painting furniture is to lightly sand between coats, and apply multiple thin coats rather than fewer thick coats. When I say “lightly sand,” I really mean lightly. Use a fine grit (a 220 grit sanding sponge works great) and just go over everything quickly. You don’t want to sand the paint off, you just want to smooth it out a bit before applying another coat.
Believe it or not, I get this question fairly often so let me just be clear: do not sand your final coat.
Use a Paint Additive
You can use a product like Floetrol, which is an additive for latex paint that helps eliminate brush strokes and extend the paint’s drying time. Just add it to your paint per the instructions on the label. While it won’t alter the paint color, it can slightly dull the sheen if you’re using a super glossy paint, so keep that in mind.
Since Floetrol extends drying time, it’s helpful when painting in high temperatures since the heat tends to make your paint dry more quickly. You do need to make sure you add the proper amount, as you don’t want to make your paint too runny, creating drips, and you may also affect the paint’s coverage if you add too much, which means you’ll need more coats (aka it will be more work).
Use a Paint Sprayer
Another option to get a smooth finish when painting furniture is to use a paint sprayer. While this guarantees that you won’t have brushstrokes, the downside is that cleanup is more labor-intensive, so you just have to weigh the pros and cons on this. I use this Wagner Flexio 3000 paint sprayer, and these liners make cleanup so much easier. (I mainly use my sprayer for baseboards and occasionally walls.)
You also want to be careful to prevent overspray, so when I use a sprayer I like to use a spray shelter to protect my surroundings.
Personally, I get a smooth enough finish just by sanding lightly between coats so I rarely use Floetrol or a paint sprayer for furniture, but I wanted to lay out the options for those who want to explore other techniques for eliminating brush strokes.
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