How to Get a Smooth Finish With Paint On Bare Wood?

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Forum topic by Mean_Dean posted 344 days ago 4935 views 0 times favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1349 posts in 1772 days

344 days ago

Hey Guys,

I just finished a set of cabinet doors, out of poplar, and finished them with a good-quality paint, but the texture of the paint is rough to the touch, not smooth.

These are the steps I followed:

#1) Sanded the doors to 150 grit

#2) Brushed on 1 coat of Kilz water-based white primer, and allowed it to dry overnight

#3) As the grain was raised, I sanded the primer with 150 grit to smooth it.

#4) With the primer coat now smooth, I brushed on 1 coat of the water-based, latex paint, and allowed it to dry overnight

#5) The texture was a bit rough, as I brushed on the 2nd (and last) coat, and let it dry overnight

The texture is slightly smoother, but still feels a little rough to the touch. Does anyone have any suggestions to get a smooth finish? Am I doing something wrong, or skipping a step?

Any suggestions are greatly appreciated!

-- Dean

19 replies so far

View JayT's profile (online now)


2171 posts in 836 days

#1 posted 344 days ago

The best way I know to get a really smooth finish is to spray.

If you can’t spary, make sure to have a really good quality brush and add some Floetrol to the paint. That will help it self level much better.

-- "The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money." Alexis de Tocqueville, 1835

View DrDirt's profile


2399 posts in 2367 days

#2 posted 344 days ago

FWW did a few articles –
One used a tinted lacquer brushed on
The other (better painted furniture) used automotive products, and talks extensively about using auto primer, which acts as a grain filler also to get glass smooth surface to paint.

Key is getting the surface level and sealed – so the primer is the most important.

Good luck

-- "If we did all the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astonish ourselves." Edison

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Kaleb the Swede

1103 posts in 594 days

#3 posted 344 days ago

Did you tip it after you brushed? I spread an even coat and then right away take a clean brush and run the tips over the surface to give it a very nice finish. That’s how I was taught when painting my dad’s 145 commercial fishing vessel. I was always responsible for hanging over the side and doing the lettering. Of course that is a steel boat not a wood one. Tipping though is key, I did that with the front door of my house.

-- Just trying to build something beautiful

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Fred Hargis

1714 posts in 1118 days

#4 posted 344 days ago

I think it may have been the paint. If that was just a latex paint, as in paint for walls, then you may have done much better with an acrylic latex.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, we sent 'em to Washington.

View tefinn's profile


1207 posts in 1062 days

#5 posted 344 days ago

Those FWW articles are only available to paid subscribers!

-- Tom Finnigan - Measures? We don't need no stinking measures! - Hmm, maybe thats why my project pieces don't fit.

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Clint Searl

1418 posts in 986 days

#6 posted 344 days ago

What I do:
1. Sand to 220, and remove all dust
2. Brush or roll a coat of flat latex/acrylic premium wall paint. I prefer Behr. Skip the shellac.
3. Smooth it back with 220 drywall sanding screen.
4. Repeat steps 2 & 3
5. Brush or roll the final coat in the sheen of choice.

I usually stick with flat and top with either waterborne poly if brushing or CAB acrylic solvent lacquer if spraying

-- Clint Searl.............We deserve what we tolerate

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404 - Not Found

2544 posts in 1594 days

#7 posted 344 days ago

Foam rollers will give you a good finish if you can’t spray. Build a heavy primer base and sand it back glass smooth, then top coat.

View Earlextech's profile


958 posts in 1315 days

#8 posted 344 days ago

Latex is never a proper final finish on any cabinetry or furniture projects. You should be using a tinted lacquer/poly/shellac for a furniture quality finish.

If you’re going to stick with latex, add Floetrol and use a foam roller or a $30 brush.

-- Sam Hamory - The project is never finished until its "finished"!

View bondogaposis's profile


2478 posts in 976 days

#9 posted 344 days ago

Sand the primer to 320 before apply paint. Sand each coat of paint to 400 except the final coat. Rub the final coat w/ a brown paper bag if it is rough.

-- Bondo Gaposis

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Clint Searl

1418 posts in 986 days

#10 posted 344 days ago

Why isn’t latex/acrylic ever a proper finish? Inquiring minds want to know.

-- Clint Searl.............We deserve what we tolerate

View Charlie's profile


1008 posts in 911 days

#11 posted 344 days ago

We topped our painted cabinets with some water-based, satin poly. So far, a bit over a year in service and they look great. Have to let the acrylic dry well before putting poly on.

View Earlextech's profile


958 posts in 1315 days

#12 posted 344 days ago

Clint, Really or are you just playing?
I know you agree because your post says you top coat with poly. For others that don’t know, latex is house paint. Go ahead and paint a table top with latex, let it cure as long as you want, then put all your favorite things on it. Framed pictures, humidor, books. Let them sit there for a couple of days. Now try to remove them without pulling the paint off.
Also, latex was not designed to be sprayed. It just doesn’t lay down a nice smooth finish like a lacquer or a poly.It has to be modified to spray and that can ruin the properties of the paint.
Latex is rubber, if you want a rubber finish on your furniture, great, but I don’t and my customers don’t.

-- Sam Hamory - The project is never finished until its "finished"!

View Clint Searl's profile (online now)

Clint Searl

1418 posts in 986 days

#13 posted 344 days ago

Sam, I may have misunderstood your earlier comment. I’m a big fan of interior acrylic wall and trim paint for anything colored. It (I prefer flat) goes on smooth and builds fast. I always top it with a waterborne poly or solvent lacquer, though I think that in semi -gloss or gloss, premium formulations dry hard and fast enough NOT to exhibit the stickiness of the old latexes. I wouldn’t hesitate to use it on cabinets.

-- Clint Searl.............We deserve what we tolerate

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1225 posts in 679 days

#14 posted 344 days ago

This is an interesting read on painting a mirror finish

-- Joel

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1752 posts in 1189 days

#15 posted 344 days ago

I just redid all my cabinet doors by spraying enamel and they came out great. Assuming you can’t spray then try at least brushing/rolling it on. Its pretty thin so even thick coats leveled out nicely. I used SW Proclassic Latex enamel. And no stickiness after it dries.

-- It's made of wood. Real sturdy.--Chubbs Peterson

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