It’s natural to want different paint sheens for different projects. For instance, a shiny finish may be more attractive for interior walls, and a flatter tone perhaps more appealing for outdoor finishes. Similarly, you may want shiner carvings but flatter furniture. It depends on many factors, from the type of wood to personal preferences. 

The big question is – what happens if you suddenly feel that your walls, doors, or cabinets are too flat? Can you make them a little shinier? More importantly, what’s the best way to make flat paint glossier?

How to Make Matte Paint Glossy

The easiest way to make gloss paint out of a flat one is to add varnish or a little glazing compound (equal to 10% of the flat paint volume) to the flat paint and stir vigorously. Then test the results to see if you’ve achieved the desired glossiness and add more glazing compound if necessary.

What Makes Paint Glossy?

Paint mainly comprises pigments, binders, solvents (liquid), and additives. However, the pigments are the most important components. Indeed, the binders only help to hold the pigments in place while paint solvents dissolve the pigment to turn paint into liquid form. More importantly, the solvent eventually evaporates, leaving behind dried pigments, binders, and additives.

So, as you may guess, paint sheen comes directly from the pigment particles. These particles reflect light, causing us to perceive a higher or lower shininess.

Generally, a higher pigment concentration results in a more chaotic pigment distribution within the binder, causing uneven light reflection and, therefore, a flatter sheen. On the other hand, lower pigment density increases light reflection, thus a glossier sheen.

What Makes Paint Matte? 

A matte finish has more pigment particles (better known as Pigment Volume Concentration (PVC) than a glossy finish. The average range is 38% to 80% PVC for matte paint and around 15% PVC for gloss paint.

The following is a general PVC guideline for the five main paint types for your future reference;

  • Flat/Matte paint: 38% PVC or higher
  • Eggshell paint: 35% to 45% PVC
  • Satin paint: 35% PVC
  • Semi-gloss paint: 25% PVC
  • Gloss paint: 15% VC

Advantages of Gloss Paints

Before we discuss how to make matte paint glossier, let’s explain why glossy finishes are more popular than flat finishes.

  • Greater durability: Higher PVC finishes are more susceptible to scratching and scuffing because of the chaotic pigment orientation and reduced binder protection. On the other hand, gloss paints are more resistant to scratches and general damage thanks to the low PVC and high binder ratio.
  • Accent benefits: A glossy surface is more eye-catching than a matt paint finish. This can be critical when aiming for a stronger, bolder, and more dramatic visual appeal. Shiny paints also pair better with other finishes.
  • Water resistant: No paint is waterproof. However, glossy paints are better than their matte counterparts if you want greater water resistance. The higher binder content creates stronger bonds that shield the underlying surface against water and moisture.
  • Washable: Finally, a high gloss finish is washable. Thanks to the paint’s moisture resistance, you can wipe down the surfaces without damaging the paint. Unfortunately, the same isn’t true for matte paints.

How to Make Matte/Flat Paint Shiny

Perhaps you’ve painted your walls, cabinets, or furniture in a nice bold color but feel it’s a little too flat for your liking. There are two main methods to make the matte finish shiny. Even better, the two methods work excellently for all paint types, including chalk paint.

Method 1: Paint Over it with a Glossy Finish

The first way to make matte paint glossy is to paint over the existing matte finish with glossy paint.

This is a straightforward process. Nevertheless, you might be wondering if it’s a good long-term solution. Does paint stick to flat paint in the first place?

The short answer is – yes. Paint sticks to flat paint because flat paints are free of gloss or solvents that repel paint. So, all types of paint, including oil-based varieties and sealants, easily stick to flat paint.

However, you must consider a few things;

  1. Dry and rough: Glossy paint only sticks to dry, rough surfaces. So, you must first allow the surface to dry and then texture it. This means you must sand sealed surfaces before painting. Doing so allows the new paint coat to bite into the surface and stick well.
  2. Don’t paint over chipped paint: Glossy paint will not stick over damaged matt paint with gouges, cracks, and dents. So, you may want to fix these issues before considering painting over the surface.

Requirements

  • Clean rags
  • Pair of gloves
  • Sandpaper
  • Primer paint
  • A gallon of glossy paint
  • Paintbrushes
  • A cleaning solvent

How to Gloss Paint Over a Matte Finish: Step-by-Step Process

  1. Begin with necessary repairs

This step involves sealing nail holes on walls, filling cracks in cabinets, and addressing deep chips and cracks on furniture. Put on latex gloves and apply spackle to the damaged areas using your fingers. You can also use a spackle spreader for large areas.

  1. Is the surface sealed?

You can check if a paint finish is sealed in two ways. First, run a nail or razer across the flat surface. The surface is sealed if the nail/razor packs dry paint flakes. Alternatively, spill some water over the surface. Sealed surfaces repel water.

  1. Sand it thoroughly

You can skip this step if the above test reveals that the surface isn’t sealed. However, if it is, get 300-grit sandpaper and begin to rough up the surface to enable maximum paint adhesion. Additionally, sanding helps to smooth tough terrains and remove peeling paint.

  1. Wash the area thoroughly

How to wash the surface depends on the type of object. For instance, you can wash hardwood floors with dishwashing soap. Otherwise, find the manufacturer’s recommended cleaning detergent. Once ready, clean the surface/object and let it dry completely.

  1. Prime the repaired sections

You don’t need to prime the entire surface, as sanding does enough to promote paint adhesion. However, the repaired sections require some primer for protection. You need only one coat of primer. However, consider two coats to be on the safe side. Then allow the primer to dry (check the manufacturer’s instructions for details).

  1. Prepare the gloss paint

Paint preparation varies from one product to another. Generally, you need to stir solvent-based paints before use. Meanwhile, latex paint requires thinning or thickening, and spray-on paints require shaking.

  1. Apply the paint

We recommend paint rollers for large flat surfaces and paintbrushes for small and hard-to-reach areas. Work evenly, one section at a time in up-down brush strokes. Then wait for the paint to dry. Flat paints are thin, thus allowing up to three overcoats. However, allow each coat to dry fully before applying the next coat. It takes about 30 minutes for each coat to dry.

  1. Seal the surface

This is not mandatory. However, it’s necessary if you’d like additional surface protection. Use only a sealant that’s compatible with the overcoat paint.

Method 2: Mix Flat and Gloss Paint

If you haven’t painted the surface yet, you can make the matt paint glossier by mixing it with the right compound. But, as you’d expect, there are a few important considerations;

  • Same solvent, same binders

Only mix paints with the same binders. For instance, it’s impossible to mix water-based paint with oil-based paint. The reverse is also true. Additionally, to be safe, only mix paints with the same resins, even if the binders are compatible. For instance, don’t mix acrylic latex paint with a water-based polyurethane finish.

  • Choose the right colors

Always mix the same paint colors unless you want to create a different color shade. Unfortunately, paint colors can be confusing. So, don’t hesitate to talk it out with the salesperson at your local paint store. Also, don’t forget to take pictures to show the salesperson.

  • Mixing ratios are critical

The final paint sheen depends on how much of each paint goes into the mixture. For example, the more gloss you add to matte paint, the shinier the final paint finish. So, you should begin by adding small amounts of glossy paint and gradually top up until you achieve the desired sheen.

  • Always test first

Once you’re finished mixing the two paints, test it on a small surface to see if you’ve achieved the desired results. Then you can add more gloss or flat paint as necessary to make the mixture flatter or glossier.

Requirements

  • Flat paint
  • Glossy paint
  • Mixing bucket

How to Mix Flat and Glossy Paint: Step-by-Step Process

  1. Pour a gallon of flat paint into the mixing bucket.
  2. Add a quart of glossy paint to the bucket.
  3. Stir the mixture thoroughly
  4. Test the results.
  5. Repeat steps #2-4 until you achieve the desired finish.

FAQs

Can you spray glossy paint over matte?

Yes. You can spray glossy paint over a matte finish to create a shinier surface. For instance, you can spray paint gloss Krylon over matte Krylon. We recommend two or three coats for the perfect glossy finish. However, bear in mind that spraying a glossy finish over a painted area can cause paint peeling.

How do you make acrylic matte glossy?

You can easily make a matte acrylic paint glossy by mixing the gloss medium into the paint on the palette and then painting normally. You’ll notice that the paint dries to a shiny glossy finish. Feel free to apply a high gloss varnish on the dried surface for an even glossier appearance.

Can you make matte paint glossy?

Yes, you can make matt paint glossy. The easiest way is to mix it with a polycrylic varnish. Polyacrylic varnishes are clear, water-based finishes that create a gloss wall over the matte paint. Better still, the varnish dries quickly. So, you can apply several coats in a day.

How can you make satin paint flat?

Yes, you can make satin paint flat. An easy approach is to sand it by hand. Wet sanding works best, but you can also dry-sand it. Use 300-grit sandpaper for the best results. Besides sanding, you can rub it with a Scotch-Brite pad. However, be careful not to remove too much paint, especially from the corners and edges.

Can you make a glossy paint flat?

Yes, it’s easy to make glossy paint flat. For instance, adding more pigment to increase the PVC by about a quarter changes gloss paint into flat. This translates to about one quart of additional pigment for every gallon of gloss paint. Mix well before use.

Summary

Don’t be stuck with a flat finish if you desire a shinier, glossier finish for wood or wall. You can make the finish as glossy as you wish by painting over the matte finish with gloss paint or mixing the matte finish with a glossy one before painting.

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