Stupid Question? Smooth paint

After paint what is the best way to smooth out paint ? Like the flat look with out the brush strokes.

I may be able to help ya…

I paint a lot of MDF and Pine. To get rid of brush strokes you have to sand them out. Start with 220 grit sandpaper but depending on how deep the stoke marks are, you may need to sand down to 150 grit and then re-sand back to 220 grit. I know it sucks but there really isn’t an easy way to remove brush strokes.

After sanding apply another coat of paint. Try to avoid using cheap polyester brushes. If that is what you are using, just use the “tips” of the brush in a smooth motion across the panel. If you plan on painting a lot, invest in a good brush. Life will be 10x’s easier. I use squirrel hair brushes ($10 - $50) depending on the size.

The most important part of getting a good finish is starting out with a properly prepared board. With MDF or Pine I sand it with 220 grit first. Then I use a 400 grit lightly. Vaccum. Wipe with a tack cloth.

I use Rustoleum a lot…

  • Prepare your panel by sanding and cleaning
  • Prime (if you’re using Rustoleum paint, use Rustoleum primer)
  • Sand your Primed panel using 300-400 grit sandpaper - I may even wet-sand / 220 may be enough too.
  • FOR ENAMEL PAINT - - - - THIN IT DOWN. About 30-40% paint thinner. This dries incredibly fast.
  • SAND EACH COAT - wet sanding is best
  • Re-apply until the paint color is as you like. 3-4 coats should be plenty if you PRIME AS YOU SHOULD.


  • I like Rustoleum 3x Thick and can get a glass like finish. One coat should be plenty.


  • Quick sand using 220 grit
  • Vacuum / Clean / Tack Cloth
  • Prime OR Shellac
  • Sand again using 220
  • Sand again using 300-400 grit
  • Clean etc…
  • Final coat… a bit heavier working your way up from the bottom. Keep your wrist stationary and move your ARM in a even sweeping motion from left to right


  • Add a couple coats of polyurethane or polyacrylic

Make sure to clean your brush(s) and if you use a spray can, CLEAN your nozzle. Sounds dumb but the nozzle HAS TO BE CLEAN to re-use properly and with good results

Hope this helps and good luck!


Very nice. Thank you for your time I well give it a try. :slight_smile:

you are very welcome!

If you resort to spray cans there are two big factors at play to get a smooth top surface:

1 - Proper perparation of the surface, if it aint smooth now spray paint wont make it smooth
2 - Warm up the spray can for 10min in a bucket of warm water (110-20degF is nice)
This will make it flow much better.


whether shellac, primer or sanding sealer, they all raise the grain and should be sanded down. It’s adding tempered moisture to the substrate… Oak, Pine, MDF… all the same.

My Dad owned a sign company and I learned from some of the best sign painters in the business. If anyone has heard of Wisconsin Dells then you probably have seen our work. Especially in the “heyday” of the 70’s, 80’s. and 90’s. Lots and lots of billboards! lol

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I usually mix some of this in if I brush anything. It helps reduce brush marks.

edit: It’s for flow control. You can find it at your local home depot/lowe’s as well. This won’t help after the fact but it should help from the beginning.


Yep… Good advice. Especially for latex paint. Thanks for the info!

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A good brushing with some steel wool afterwards also does the trick.