How to Dull a Glossy Finish in 4 Easy Ways

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Many woodworking projects require a glossy finish. A glossy finish is achieved by applying a clear topcoat to the project. This topcoat can be either water or oil-based.

The most common type of topcoat is polyurethane, which is a synthetic resin that contains polymers and provides a durable finish.

However, sometimes you may want to dull the glossy finish for aesthetic purposes or to prepare the surface for painting. Here are 4 easy ways how to dull a glossy finish that you can try.

How to Dull a Glossy Finish with Sandpaper

There are a few different ways that you can go about dulling a glossy finish. One way is to sand the piece with fine-grit sandpaper until the desired effect is achieved.

This method is best for small projects or for areas where you want more control over the amount of shine that is removed. 

To sand the piece, you will need first to determine what grit of sandpaper to use. For most projects, fine-grit sandpaper, like P-400, will work.

If you are working with a thicker finish or if you want to remove a lot of shine, you can start with a coarser grit like P-220-300 and then move to a finer one.

Once you have determined the grit of sandpaper to use, begin sanding the piece in the direction of the grain. Sand until you have achieved the desired amount of dullness, moving up in sandpaper grits. 

At P-600, clean the surface and decide if you’re satisfied with the result. If not, carry on if yes, your job is done.

If your project is large, you may want to use an electric sander to make the job easier. However, be careful not to damage the piece by using too much pressure or using the sander in the wrong direction.

I’d recommend sealing the sanded surface with a matt top coat or wax.

How to Dull a Glossy Finish with Paint

If you don’t mind changing the appearance completely, then another way to dull a glossy finish is to apply a coat of flat paint over the top of the existing finish. This will give the piece an overall matte appearance.

To paint over a glossy finish, you will need to first sand the piece lightly with fine-grit sandpaper. This will help the paint to adhere better to the surface.

Or use a good quality chalk paint like Annie Sloan, which doesn’t require any surface prep apart from general clean-up.

Next, choose a paint color that you want to use. It is best to use flat or matte paint so that you do not end up with a shiny finish. You can also use chalk paint which will give your project a unique matte finish.

Once you have chosen your paint, apply it to the piece using a brush or roller. Apply the paint in thin, even coats until the entire piece is covered. Allow the paint to dry completely between each coat.

For a washed effect, You can use water-diluted paint in a 1:1 ratio and paint the surface in small areas using a paintbrush. Then after several minutes, wipe the excess off using a clean rug.

This will work for sanded and not sanded furniture using chalk paint.

After the final coat of paint has dried, you can seal the piece with a clear topcoat to protect the paint. However, this will add some shine back to the finish. Choose wax or flat matt top coat to avoid this.

How to Dull a Glossy Finish with Deglosser

Finally, you can try using a chemical deglosser. This is a product that is applied to the surface and then wiped off, taking the shine with it.

To use a deglosser, you will need first to protect any areas that you do not want the deglosser to touch. This can be done by covering them with painter’s tape or newspapers.

Next, apply the deglosser to the surface using a brush, roller, or sponge. Follow the instructions on the deglosser for how long to let it sit on the surface.

After the allotted time has passed, wipe off the deglosser with a clean rag. You may need to use some elbow grease to remove all of the deglosser and the shine.

Chemical deglossers are available at most hardware stores and can be used on both small and large projects.

How to Dull a Glossy Finish with satin/matt finish

If you don’t want to sand or paint, then you can also try using a satin or matt finish. Applying a satin finish over gloss will tone down the shine without the need to remove it completely. 

This is a good option if you want to keep some of the original finish intact and will give the piece an overall duller appearance. This method is best for larger projects where sanding would be impractical.

To apply a satin finish, you will need a satin topcoat, either a regular one or a spray-on.

Once you have chosen your product, apply it to the piece using a brush or roller or if it’s a spray-on, follow the instructions on the can. 

Apply the finish in thin, even coats until the entire piece is covered. Allow the topcoat to dry completely between each coat. For better results, you should sand lightly between coats.


There are many reasons why you might want to dull a glossy finish. The most common reason is for aesthetic purposes or to prepare the surface for painting. 

Dulling a glossy finish is a simple process that can be done in a number of different ways.

Sanding, painting, or using a deglosser are all effective ways to dull a glossy finish. The method that you choose will depend on the piece that you are working on and the look that you are trying to achieve.

Experiment with different techniques until you find the one that works best for you.

With just a little bit of effort, you can take your woodworking projects from shiny to satin in no time!

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