How to Make Paint Look Duller

Use sandpaper to dull paint sheen.
Use sandpaper to dull paint sheen. (Image: Jupiterimages/ Images)

Most paints are formulated with chemicals that provide them with varying levels of sheen. While enamel, gloss and semi-gloss paints have high sheens, flat, satin and eggshell paints have little to no sheen. If you are unsatisfied with the amount of sheen on a painted surface, you can make it look duller by utilizing friction-based abrasion methods; however, if the surface is very large, this technique could prove tedious. In this case, your best bet is to repaint the surface with low-sheen paint. Learn the proper way to condition the existing glossy finish for adequate adhesion, or the new paint will flake.

Things You'll Need

  • 500-grit sandpaper
  • Sponge
  • Towel
  • 100-grit sandpaper
  • Canvas drop cloths
  • Painter's masking tape
  • Flat, eggshell or satin paint
  • Roller frame
  • Polyester paintbrush

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Dull Existing Paint

Sand the glossy painted finish lightly with very fine, 500-grit sandpaper. Do not use sandpaper with a lower grit, or you will likely carve noticeable scars into the finish. Do not overdo it. Lightly scour the paint until the sheen appears duller.

Dampen a soft sponge. Ensure that the sponge is clean and free from trace oils and cleanser residues.

Wipe the sanded painted finish with the sponge. Dry the paint with a towel.

Repaint With Low-sheen Paint

Abrade the glossy painted finish or the new, less-glossy paint won't adhere. Scour the glossy paint with 100-grit sandpaper until the existing finish feels slightly rough.

Place drop cloths beneath the existing glossy finish. Attach painter's masking tape to adjacent surfaces.

Apply a particular type of paint based on your personal taste. For a low, muted sheen, apply eggshell or stain paint. For no sheen at all, apply a flat paint. Apply the paint using a roller. Roll vertically while applying gentle pressure. Touch up the surface as needed, using a polyester brush. Let the new finish dry for at least 2 hours.

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