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How to Eliminate Brushstrokes for a Flawless Finish!

Brush strokes can be one of the greatest challenges one faces when painting anything, especially furniture. Depending on the finish you're looking to achieve they can be beautiful & useful....or a giant headache.

Here are some secrets to creating a flawless, brushstroke free finish!

General Finishes Coastal Blue Dresser

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Planning the Project

We recently acquired this piece and immediately fell in love with its lines... sleek inset drawers, fluted sides, and a curvy base... it was begging for a satin finish to show all those details!

Our fantastic Facebook Followers helped us to pick the color, I definitely wanted to use these gorgeous cup pulls from our friends at D. Lawless Hardware, but was debating between General Finishes Milk Paint in Basil Green or Coastal Blue... the vast majority of the responses voted for Coastal Blue, so we listened!  

Huge shoutout to D. Lawless Hardware for being kind enough to provide a discount for our friends, use CAPTIVA10 at checkout for 10% off!

General Finishes Basil Green vs Coastal Blue


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Now that we had our plan we gathered the supplies & set to work:

 Prep Work

First we removed the hardware & cleaned the piece thoroughly with a 50/50 mix of distilled water & denatured alcohol. Then sanded with 150- 220 sandpaper to create a smooth, stable surface for our paint to adhere to. Large scratches should be filled with putty, then sanded smooth. Use the higher grit for an all over sand to help remove any surface scratches & prepare the entire surface. Be sure to remove all sanding dust with a soft cloth, these microfiber cloths work great to pick up & trap all those tiny dust particles!

Next use the Painter's Tape to mask off the drawer edges, back and anywhere else you would not want covered in paint. Many people do not take this step but I find crisp, clean lines very satisfying & know our customers appreciate the attention to detail. 

Painting with General Finishes Milk Paint

Now we are ready for paint! Since we knew this piece was prone to bleed through we took the extra step of priming with a clear, dewaxed shellac based primer (SUPER hard to find, but we really like the product!). 

Next we applied 2 coats of General Finishes Milk Paint in Coastal Blue. We love this Milk Paint for many reasons... it is a water based product, allowing for easy cleaning & minimal odors, comes in a variety of gorgeous colors and is self- leveling, meaning that it is formulated to flatten out as it dries! When you combine its properties with an incredible ClingOn Brush, you can achieve an unbelievably smooth, flawless finish by hand!  

Cling On brushes are intended to be used & stored wet, this helps the paint to slide off the bristles nicely & assists in the paint leveling off beautifully. Be sure to move quickly & paint one area entirely before moving on to the next. If you find the paint is drying faster than you would like, spritz your brush with water and/or add a little distilled water or General Finishes Extender to the paint. These all aid in extending the open time of the paint, allowing you to achieve the results you desire before it get tacky and begins drying. A light scuff sanding between coats with a high grit sandpaper (these sanding pads are our favorite!), will help getting an even smoother finish!

A quick distress was given to the piece to help highlight the details & create an authentic, timeworn finish then we moved on to the topcoat!

Top Coating

GF Milk Paint does not require a top coat, but we often use it to offer a bit of piece of mind to our clients. Using a topcoat will greatly improve its durability, which is especially important in high use areas (like the tops of dressers).

General Finishes High Performance Top Coat has proven time & time again to be a wonderful, trustworthy product. It is water based, but offers superior protection and is easy to use. It can be applied a number of ways, but our favorite is by spraying. This allows us to lay the product down in a uniform coating and avoids brush stokes completely. It's also SUPER fast to apply a coat! (If you want to avoid spraying, a wide, flat ClingOn Brush offers the next best brushstroke free solution!)

Dan enjoys spraying & has been testing quite a few out lately, but the 3M Accuspray One Spray Gun System is by far his favorite, it's easy to use, has disposable parts and makes switching between products a breeze! (he has over 15 years experience spraying a variety of products & will be sharing more about that soon!)

For this piece we sprayed two coats of Satin top coat then thought it was a bit too shiny, so a coat of Flat was applied to dull the sheen slightly.

TIP: When working with paints & topcoats a general rule of thumb is that the shinier the finish, the greater durability it has. 


Finishing Touches

The final step was to remove all the painter's tape & freshen up the drawers. They were in great shape but were a bit dry looking & had some surface scratches (wish I had a before photo, ugh!). Hemp oil to the rescue! It's seriously crazy how a quick application of this wonder oil can revive tired wood! I brushed a little on, then wiped it back with a clean rag. It soaks into the wood to nourish it, fills in many surface blemishes, and restores a warm, glow to the existing finish, check it out!

Drawers Drawer Detail Shot


Voila! Our project was complete and we are SUPER happy with the finish!

What do you think?


Do you prefer watching videos? Want to see our process or the products in action? Check these related videos out!


Coastal Blue Dresser


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  • Thus came out beautiful!!! Thank you for sharing your steps. I can’t wait to try general finishes on 7/21. Thanks again!!😊👍🏻

    Julie Butler

  • Wish I lived close to you, could take your classes and kibitz you.


  • Excellent tutorial. Directions are easy to follow. The added links provide useful information for products mentioned in the article. Photographs are professional and provide a useful visual for readers to identify appropriate results. Your step by step instructions are appreciated. Thank you.

    Susan Keltner

  • Excellent tutorial!


  • Thank you for the step by step refinishing process! I found it to be very helpful!

    DEborah DAvis

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