How To Dull A Glossy Finish

In their work, every woodworker will have to deal with the challenge of how to dull a shiny finish. Maybe you sprayed a glossier finish than you intended, or maybe you bought a piece of high-gloss furniture at a sale that would appear nicer if it wasn’t so shiny.

While achieving a higher gloss finish is simple, dulling down a high gloss finish floor or wooden surface takes more effort.

In our guide, you can learn much more about how to dull gloss paint finish in more than one way. By the end, no matter what your project, you will know the best way how to get a more matte finish on all your DIY projects.

Guide to Dull A Glossy Finish

How Do You Dull a Glossy Finish?

There are a few different ways to dull an existing finish that is too shiny. Depending on the method you use, you may not need all the supplies listed here.

Things You Need

  • Orbital sander.
  • Wet/dry sandpaper/ sanding blocks (220 to 1200 grit.
  • Polishing pads.
  • Mineral spirits.
  • Steel wool (0000.
  • Finish (matte, satin, or semi-gloss.
  • Paint brush if not going for a spray finish.
  • Coarse polishing compound.

Sanding Out Gloss

This is the best way to soften a glossy finish, and for many jobs, it could be the only way you need. However, if the results are not satisfactory, you have other options for sanding off the gloss. (Learn How To Sand Polyurethane)

Not knowing how thick your current finish is can cause issues. If you are sanding a thin finish, you may end up sanding right through it.


  1. If the finish is thick, start sanding using 220 or 300 grit sandpaper. Start by gently wet sanding the object with soapy water or mineral spirits in a circular motion and glance at the surface to check.
  2. Finish by wiping the surface and moving on to the next grit.
  3. It’s recommended to start with higher grit sandpaper that removes less finish, so start using a 400-grit sandpaper.
  4. After 600 grit, clean the surface thoroughly and inspect your job. You may be pleased with the outcomes. If so, all you need to do is clean the surface and enjoy your furniture.
  5. You can keep sanding until you see the finish is dull. Start wet sanding using 800 grit sandpaper and check your work.
  6. If it’s still dull, try 1000 grit and recheck before you try 1200 grit.


  1. After sanding, if the finish is still dull or has many swirl marks, you can use a polishing compound.
  2. Polish the surface with a polishing compound on an orbital sander buffing pad. Begin with a coarse polish.
  3. After buffing, wash the surface with soapy water and a soft towel. Repeat the buffing operation using higher grit sandpapers.
  4. To finish, you can use a finer polishing compound and restore some of your dull finish to a sheen.

Make Polyurethane Finish Less Shiny

How Do You Make Polyurethane Finish Less Shiny?

Taking excess shine out of anything is possible, yet it requires elbow grease. But, when done right, the results make the effort worthwhile.

If you need to know how to dull a glossy finish, here are some ways to tone it down.


Sanding a glossy paint finish may be the finest solution for dulling it. This method allows you to remove some of the final material manually. It also roughens the surface, removing gloss.

Sanding also offers you superb control. The grit you use determines how polished the surface is. The finer the grit, the duller the finish.

Notably, sanding is not without risk. If you don’t know how deep the high gloss finish is, you might go all the way through. That may not be your intention, so proceed with caution.

Start by gently wet sanding or using sandpaper with mineral spirits on the existing finish. Next, sand the surface evenly using 400 grit sandpaper. If the finish is thicker, start with 220 or 300 grit.

Keep consistent pressure and smooth strokes during sanding. Careless sanding might cause swirl markings. (Find the Best Belt Sanders)

After the initial grit, you’ll work your way down grit-wise. From 220 to 300, for example. After 300, try 400.

After each round, wash down the surface and analyze it. So if you see swirl marks appearing, you can correct them. If you think you have the proper finish, clean off the wood and check.

After 600 grit, clean the surface, even if you think the finish is good. Then look at the result and determine if you’re happy with it. It’s conceivable that debris was affecting the completion, so pause and give your surface a quick once over.

Refining Your Finish

So long as you enjoy the new finish, you are done, yet there are more options if you need more dulling.

  1. If the finish is close, consider a new method. A little wood wax sometimes softens polish.
  2. If you wax, use the wipe-off procedure. If you are to refinish, be aware, you must remove the wax, or any finish won’t stick.
  3. If you think the finish is too dull, you’ll use a different method.
  4. Try wet 800 grit sandpaper, and stop here if the finish is ideal. If it’s still dull, go higher to 1000, then 1200 grit.
  5. If you can see swirl marks, you can use a coarse polishing compound and an orbital sander.
  6. For a higher gloss, try a finer polishing compound.

Dull a Glossy Finish Using Refinishing

Remove Polishing Compound

  1. If you used a polishing compound, remove it first. If you choose, you can use another solvent instead of naphtha.
  2. Then sand the item using 220 grit sandpaper. This will roughen up the current finish and help the fresh coat adhere.

Clean and Dry

  1. Because this method involves a new finish, the hardwood surface must be carefully cleaned and dried. Otherwise, expect mediocre outcomes.
  2. Begin by wiping down the surface. Avoid using chemical cleaners as they may not mix well with the finish, resulting in a poor result.

Apply New Finish

  1. Apply a light coat of fresh finish. A thin coat dries faster.
  2. In as little as 30 minutes, you may have a fair sense of the final result.
  3. Then, if desired, apply a second light coat. Allow it to dry. Then apply a third light coat if necessary.

Sanding and Polishing Method Step by step

Can Gloss Paint Be Made Flat?

Sanding and Polishing Method

Sanding and polishing is the most straightforward approach and the method to start with on glossy finishes. To get started, you’ll need:

  • Various grits of sandpaper: At the very least, use 220, 320, 400, and 600. You may require finer sandpaper but start with coarse sandpaper for the varnish sanding process.
  • Dust cloths: Any cotton cloth will suffice. A microfiber cloth is a good option, but keep many as you don’t want to keep using one’s full of dust.
  • Orbital sander: It all boils down to how matte you want your surface to be, yet these get rid of swirls and scratches as you increase glossiness.
  • Polishing compounds: These are required for use with the orbital sander. Get a coarse and a finer combination so you can sand without extra pressure.

These items are available at your local hardware store.

Step 1 ‒ Sanding Process

  1. Clean the entire piece using a mixture of hot water and TSP. Let the wood piece completely dry.
  2. Fill imperfections using Bondo Spot Putty
  3. Sand every surface using 220 grit sandpaper with an orbital sander is best.
  4. It’s critical to evaluate the thickness of your piece’s top coat before you begin. If it’s too thick, sand it down with 220- or 320-grit sandpaper.
  5. Start with 400-grit if it’s a thin surface or you’re not sure, so you don’t remove too much top layer. You may damage the actual wood underneath.
  6. Once you’ve rubbed the surface all over, wipe it down with a bit of soapy water.
  7. If you need to restore some sheen, sand with 800-grit sandpaper. Continue rubbing with finer sandpaper until you achieve the desired polish.
  8. You can go up to a granularity of 1400-grit. The sandpaper with a higher grit will give you a smoother, satin finish. You can also use fine steel wool if you don’t have a large area.

Step 2 ‒ Coarse Polishing

This process is only necessary if the previous one didn’t give you the desired result. You’ll need the electric sander at this point to reduce gloss from lacquer finishes.

A random orbital sander is recommended for professional results during the buffing process rather than a traditional orbital. (Find the Best Porter Cable Orbital Sander)

  1. Apply coarse polishing compound to the buffing pad of your sander. Go over the surface, putting no more pressure on it as you remove the semi-gloss shine.
  2. Soapy water should be used to clean the surface.
  3. Wipe with a soft cloth and let it dry.
  4. If you need more sheen, re-use the sander with the finer polishing compound.

How To Dull A Glossy Finish

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