Friday, February 16, 2018

Too many brushmarks in your paint? How to avoid them and have a smooth finish on your furniture

how to avoid brushmarks and have a lovely smooth finish when painting furniture by Lilyfield life

Good morning. Yesterday was Phil and my 15th wedding anniversary... and you want to know how we celebrated? We went to a year 9 school information evening. ha ha life with kids hey? We did stop at our lovely, local pub for a very quick dinner on the way home and Phil did say he thought of buying us a present but he didn't get around to it (yoga mats for our new found love of yoga that is really helping my back). I didn't even think of getting presents so he's one step ahead of me.  Anyway we came home to a nice surprise from our lovely kids - they'd made us Sasha's special chocolate brownies and a Happy Anniversary sign. 

beautiful thoughtful kids - flowers on the cake in the shape of a heart

just after we were engaged - so young
Anyway back to the furniture painting: I am in a few painting forums on facebook and one of the questions I see so often is "How do I get rid of paint brush marks?" To be honest I'm a bit shocked sometimes when I see close ups of people's work. You could drive a tractor though through some of the furrows in the paint. The problem with heavy brush marks is that dust and grime will settle in them and make your piece very hard to clean. It also doesn't look very professional or feel nice to touch. 


how to avoid brushmarks and have a lovely smooth finish when painting furniture by Lilyfield life
my smooth handpainted finish - minimal brushmarks
Here is what works for me to have a nice smooth painted finish with minimal brushmarks.

  1. Prep your piece: your finish is only ever going to be as good as what your start with. If you are laying your paint down over a chipped, pitted surface these problems will show up in your finished surface. Sand with 120 grit.
  2. Sand your base coat: If you prime then give your primer a quick sand with 220g. This take a minimal amount of time and is always worth it. You can't get a smooth finish without a smooth base. As I mention in this post Zinsser BIN Shellac sands so beautifully smooth - like glass. A perfect base for painting.
  3. Use a good brush - Use brushes with nylon-polyester synthetic bristles. Don't use bristle brushes such as Annie Sloan's round brushes if you want to avoid brushmarks. Her brushes are made for creating texture. Not what you want for a smooth finish. I find the best brushes are a 50mm angled sash brush such as Monarch's or the round Cling On brushes. The brush should be super clean; any old clumps of dried paint will hold the bristles together and make it more difficult to avoid brush marks. When I am painting a table top or sideboard top I will almost always use a new brush for a perfect surface.
  4. Additives - if you have a good base and the right brush and are still getting brush marks then your problem is that the paint is drying too quickly and you are overworking your paint. Try using an additives such as Floetrol or even water to thin your paint and slow the drying time. This is essential if you work in a hot dry climate. 
  5. Not too much paint: When painting, dip only about one-third of the bristle length into the paint. Thinner paint lays down better and helps hide brush marks.
  6. Don't overwork your paint. You are not buttering your toast. Put the paint on and once it’s smoothed out, leave it alone. Don’t go back and work the paint back and forth. The quicker you can lay your paint down and move away then better your finish will be. Don't go back and fix a problem when the paint is still wet. Fix it by sanding once it's dry and then lay the next coat down. By agitating the paint you are creating brushstrokes as the paint starts to dry and level and then the brush comes through and marks the drying paint and creates furrows. 
how to avoid brushmarks and have a lovely smooth finish when painting furniture by Lilyfield life


I know some people spray to avoid brushmarks. This is fantastic if you have the skills. However I have been asked so many times to fix up botched spray jobs that I think don't spray unless you are very skilled at it.

how to avoid brushmarks and have a lovely smooth finish when painting furniture by Lilyfield life

If for any reason you didn’t end up with a really smooth surface and the paint has already dried, you can carefully sand down the fine grooves and ridges in your paintwork with a fine, 180-240 grit  sandpaper. Go over with a lint-free damp cloth to clean and try painting again following my advice.

Fiona xx

how to avoid brushmarks and have a lovely smooth finish when painting furniture by Lilyfield life

1 comment:

  1. Absolutely love your work. Brilliant piece of advice, highly recommended.

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