How to tone down a finish

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Blog entry by recycle1943 posted 02-09-2014 08:27 PM 1107 reads 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch

OK – gotta start at the beginning

In my haste I bought and opened a gallon of high gloss water based finish. I absolutely HATE it !! Has anybody found a way to take the golss out aside from shaking the can ? I already tried that and it doesn’t work too well.
I don’t want to apply and then tone it down with a compound or steel wool, I prefer to add something to the finish prior to application.
I know there use to be an additive for paint that would tone it down but it’s not water based.

I just hate throwing $60 away -

-- Dick, Malvern Ohio - my biggest fear is that when I die, my wife sells my toys for what I told her I paid for them

4 comments so far

View Oldtool's profile


2659 posts in 2241 days

#1 posted 02-09-2014 09:45 PM

From what I’ve read in Flexner’s book, the flattening agent is small particles in the finish, which need to be stirred up prior using, as they settle to the bottom. Shaking a high gloss finish won’t do any good in this respect.

Only suggestion I can make would either buy a pint or quart of a similar finish, with the most matte or dull finish, then pour into your gallon. It will dilute the high gloss, but I’ve no idea the degree to which it will dull your gallon.

Maybe email the manufacturer, and perhaps they can tell you how many pints or quarts of their flat finish to mix in to achieve the desired effect.

Good luck with this.

-- "I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The point is to bring them the real facts." - Abraham Lincoln

View recycle1943's profile


1937 posts in 1672 days

#2 posted 02-10-2014 12:00 AM

@oldtool – I’ll try to email them, it’s possible they do have a flattening agent I can get.


-- Dick, Malvern Ohio - my biggest fear is that when I die, my wife sells my toys for what I told her I paid for them

View DLC's profile


44 posts in 1670 days

#3 posted 02-10-2014 04:31 AM

I would probably suggest applying the high gloss finish as is, but then once it is fully applied (final coat) and dried, do a rub out with 0000 steel wool to give it a dull/matte finish. I have read about this, and tried it out a little bit myself and it seems to be a workable method. I would suggest getting some 0000 steel wool and trying this method on a scrap piece of wood.

-- Daniel, Durham, NC

View pintodeluxe's profile


5723 posts in 2863 days

#4 posted 02-10-2014 05:01 AM

A flattening agent will work, so long as it is available.

If you go the steel wool route, make sure to use wax too. Straight steel wool will scratch your finish. Steel wool applied with furniture wax brings a high gloss finish back to a nice satin finish.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

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