How to Make a Glossy Paint Job Into Matte

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The shiny surface of gloss paint makes it easy to clean. However, sometimes that glossy paint job is not exactly what you expected when the project is finished. While repainting with a matte finish is one option, you can try other ways to degloss the surface before resorting to a fresh coat of paint.


Proper Prior Preparation

Clean and dry the surface before beginning to degloss the paint. If you've just painted and discovered that the gloss finish was the wrong choice, give it time to fully dry according to the manufacturer's directions. Protect the floors and surrounding area with drop cloths when working on walls or cover the table with a plastic tablecloth when working on smaller objects. Add ventilation by opening windows and doors or work outside in a sheltered carport or patio.


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Before you begin, put on safety gear. Gloves, safety goggles, and a dust mask or respirator are essential to protect your skin, eyes, and respiratory system as you work. Keep all products away from open flames and out of the reach of children and pets.

Scuff It Up

You can dull a finish by sanding to soften the glossy surface. Whether you use a fine-grit sandpaper, extra-fine steel wool, or gray abrasive scuff pads to reduce the gloss, you can use it dry or with a lubricant. When rubbing out an oil-based paint or finish, use a lubricant of soapy water, mineral oil, mineral spirits, or wax. If you're knocking back a water-based finish, avoid using mineral spirits as a lubricant.


Dry or wet, start with #0000 superfine steel wool or a gray scuff pad and gently rub it across the surface of the paint. Alternatively, use a #600 fine-grit sandpaper and lightly sand the surface of the paint. Repeat with a #1000 fine-grit sandpaper to smooth the paint to a matte finish. Use caution to avoid scrubbing through the paint surface and exposing the primer or bare wood or metal.

Try a Liquid Deglosser

Liquid sander and/or deglosser products work to clean and degloss surfaces but won't smooth underlying lumps and bumps in the paint. If you need to even out the surface or remove peeling or damaged paint, add a step to the process and sand with sandpaper first. Thoroughly clean the surface and dry completely before using any liquid deglosser products.


  1. Shake well and then hold a rag over the cap to avoid spraying the product as you open the can.
  2. Apply the deglosser to the wall or painted item by pouring a little onto a clean, lint-free rag.
  3. Rub it over the glossy paint, working in approximately a 3- to 4-square-foot area. Change the rag often as you work.
  4. Wait the recommended time according to the directions and then remove the product with clean, dry rags or wash the surface.
  5. Allow it to dry completely before determining if a finish needs to be applied to even out or protect the matte appearance.


Add a Matte Finish

Once the glossy paint has been knocked back, you can simply leave it as is or apply a clear flat or matte finish to protect the surface. There are a variety of clear matte finishes available that can be brushed or sprayed over the paint to provide an even matte surface. Read the directions carefully, as some products are only suitable for use with compatible paints manufactured by the same company.


  1. Wipe the surface first to remove any dust and particles.
  2. Brush, roll, or spray the clear matte finish over the paint. In general, the clear finish should be applied in temperatures between 55 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit and when the humidity is lower than 60 percent.
  3. Allow it to dry and apply a second coat if necessary per the instructions on the can.

Repaint With a Matte Finish

Repainting with the same color except in a flat, matte, or eggshell finish is always an option when the glossy finish wasn't the right choice. Apply a primer over the glossy paint to facilitate adhesion of the new paint. If possible, have the primer tinted to the correct color and allow it to dry. Then apply two coats of the matte-finish paint to complete the project.



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