Creating a great high gloss paint finish
Subject Painting Furniture with Black Paint
Message: Dear Glenwood,
I love to re-paint new and old furniture to add a splash of color or unique accents to any room, and have fell in love with the art of using black as an accent color! However, I cannot seem to master the technique of creating a smooth professional looking finish when using oil, latex, or spray products. I have re-painted many pieces of furniture, but find working with black paint to be the most challenging! In addition to properly preparing the wood, what are the best types of paints, brushes, and techniques to use when trying to achieve that professional look?
Debbie B. Pennsylvania
Thanks for your e-mail.
We have all walked into a furniture store, and marveled at the super smooth, polished furniture finishes. Or, maybe we were stopped in our tracks by that mirror like black finish on a baby grand piano.
And we have all been fustrated by our inability to recreate that look at home.
There are two things to keep in mind: One, there is no product or technique that will allow the do-it-yourselfer to create such a finish in one or two steps.
Two, with the right products and techniques you can create a super smooth finish, provided that you are willing to spend the time and effort.
Most commercial finishes are lacquer based, which requires a very expensive spray set-up, and usually some way to heat or flash cure the finish. Piano finishes are lacquer finishes that are then rubbed and polished to that high sheen.
Forget about using latex finishes by themselves; because they set up so quickly, and go on so heavy, there is no way to prevent roller or brush marks.
Throw those spray paint cans away; they are just about useless.
One of the best ways to get a reasonably smooth and shiny finish is to use an oil paint, such as Benj. Moore’s High Gloss Impervo, and apply several coats using a short nap mohair roller (6”, 9” or 12”), letting each coat dry overnight before recoating. The oil paint is pretty good at leveling out into a fairly smooth finish.
You can make the surface even smoother by lightly wet sanding between coats with a 400 grit sandpaper. The wet /dry sandpaper is black, and usually comes in 200, 400, and 600 grits. You use this paper by applying a little water to the surface, and then lightly sand the surface, all the while keeping the surface wet. Wet sanding allows you to quickly sand the surface, all the while keeping scratches to a minimum. The top coat of black, applied evenly, will dry pretty smooth.
If you want to push it further, and make the surface even smoother, then you can, after wet sanding with the 600 grit paper, take some automotive rubbing compound, and using either a power buffer or some serious elbow grease, buff the surface, removing any visible scratches. The finish will now be smooth, though with a slightly hazy sheen. Use some automotive polishing compound to remove the haze and bring up the shine. The more time spent on this step, the greater the gloss.
Now, sometimes, you may want to apply a high gloss to a faux painted surface. For this you cannot use oil based varnishes in order to build up the surface, since all oil varnishes and polyurethanes have an amber tint, and will discolor the painted surface. What I do is apply 5-7 layers of a water based finish, like Benj. Moore’s High Gloss Stay Clear Finish.
After allowing the finish to cure for several days, repeat the above steps, and you will have a great finish. Just don’t rush it. Take your time. It will be worth it.
That Paint Guy
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