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Can I make flat paint into gloss?

What I want to know is this:  My walls are painted with flat paint, except for the kitchen and bathroom.  In areas of other rooms, especially around light switches and doorways, every handprint and smudge seems to be a beacon!  They are just so obvious! I have a lot of the flat paint the painters left when they finished and I want to know if there is something I can mix into it to convert it to a semi-gloss finish that I could then use for a second coating in those messy areas?  I am single with teenagers and need all the help I can get in keeping up with and preventing messes!


Thank you anyone who can help me with this!


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Posted 2012-02-26T03:26:43+0000  by brookie brookie

   One of the advantages with flat paint is in it's ability to be randomly "touched up".  Any other sheen paint will result in noticeable patch-like differences when ever  this is done.  Each coat of paint essentially adds another layer to the top coat and will also increase the sheen (or at least make it slightly more shiny).  Flat paint is the only paint that can consistently be touched-up and not show any difference to the finiish.


   I suggest sticking with the flat paint that you already have and simply address the problem areas on a regular basis. There are a couple of applicators that will make this job a lot easier:

mini roller.jpg          roller kit.jpg

Hope this helps.

Best Answer

Posted 2012-02-26T15:47:19+0000  by Kevin_HD_ATL




There is no additive, per se, that will turn a flat paint into a gloss. However, if you pour gloss paint into flat paint and stir it up , the sheen will be increased.  If you use equal parts, the sheen will meet in the middle as about a satin.


My best advice would be to buy new higher sheen paint and start over completely. Save that leftover paint for the garage. My guess is that the flat paint is not the highest quality if it attracts dirt so readily. Does it wash well? Low quality paints are hard to clean and will actually give off pigment residue as you wash.


Both the new generation Behr Premium Plus, which is presently being introduced to Home Depots around the country, and Glidden's DUO, are self-priming paints which should give you good results without using a dedicated primer first.

Posted 2012-02-26T06:22:37+0000  by ordjen

i'd like to say a simple yes.

However the many structured chemicals and how they are formulated would make it a terribly  inaccurate answer.

If you have a real old fashioned paint store near you a veteran may be able to read your paint content label and give you a sucessful answer.

But not manyt people that just sell paint in todays work field would be knowlwdgable enough to give you a valid answer.

Sorry i can't help more.

Posted 2012-02-27T00:17:33+0000  by Master-OF-None


Master of None,


There are literally whole books written on the topic of how to control gloss in paints and coatings. As pertains to acyrlic/latex paints, it is generally done by alterrnig the ratio of the resin to pigment ( more resin equals more gloss) and how finely the pigment is milled. Glossier paints are generally slightly more expensive than flat paints precisely because it costs more to mill the particles finer.  Fine particles are more densely packed together and reflect more light, hence gloss. Flat paints have very coursely milled pigments. Its rough surface scatters light, hence looks dull. This roughness is also why it washes relatively poorly and is more permeable to moisture, hence not suitable for bathrooms.


In the case of varnishes, solids are added to break up the reflected light. This is why it is important to thoroughly stir up the cloudy stuff on the bottom of the can. If you do not, the varnish on top will be high gloss and the varnish on the bottom will be dead flat. It is also important to stir oil paints to control the gloss from top to bottom.


End Of Paint Mixology 101  :)

Posted 2012-02-27T05:36:49+0000  by ordjen

Hello Brookie!


WOW! Your thread has numerous suggestions ... I'd like to clarify several points.


First, paint solids are ground finer to increase the sheen (Ordjen refers to it as "milled"). This is exactly right!


Because sheen is created by grinding solids finer, there isn't a perfect way to add anything to increase the sheen ... the solids in your can were originally ground only fine enough to appear flat and that will not change no matter what you add.


NOTE: Artists add acrylic media to their paints (for canvas) to create both sheen and texture. These water-base craft/art products are similar to some wall paints. However, I would discourage blending these products ... your end product may not appear uniformly shiny or flat and your dry-time may vary as well.


Second, it is probably easier (as Ordjen suggests) to buy a gallon of satin or semi-gloss in the same color and recoat.


In this line of thinking, you could also use a water-base clear coat in satin or semi-gloss to cover the entire room. Enough clear coat to cover your room would likely cost much more than a new gallon of paint ... so this isn't a great option.


Third, flat does touch-up and shows very few brush or roller marks (as Kevin notes) ... but oil or grease stains will likely bleed back through. An oil-base or shellac primer may be required to seal these stains ... then you'd apply a fresh coat of paint.


Finally, when my customers have stains they need to remove, I frequently recommend Krud Kutter!


Krud Kutter.jpg


This product is a low-odor, spray-on cleaner that will make quick work of almost any stain. Just spritz on, allow it to sit for several minutes and wipe off with a terry towel. This is the closest thing to a workable solution that you may find.



As a former Scout Master, I would encourage you to enlist those teenagers to remove the stains they create!


After a few cleaning sessions, you might notice that they become a tiny bit more aware to prevent making stains.


You'll notice that I say "a tiny bit more aware" ... they are, after all, teenagers!


You've gotta love 'em and often you've got to clean up after them!


Krud Kutter will make cleaning easier.

Posted 2012-02-28T16:15:57+0000  by Pat_HD_ATL

Hello Sir,

And thank you for your reply!  I think that after reading the many replies, including yours, I probably shouldn't attempt to mix anything since I know very little about the chemistry involved.  That being said, to answer one inquiry, the paint that was used in my home was Behr, for all the different sheens and colors used.  I like the idea of mixing a higher sheen of the same color with the flat ( I have both left over) but don't like as much the idea of repainting the entire flat painted surface myself!  Whoever pointed out that the flat touches up best was right.  I have touched up several spots and you can't even tell!  I have also patched a few "extra" holes and painted over them and again, you can't even tell!  What you say about grease bleeding through, though, that got my interest.  I have noticed several spots in the flat painted surface that appear to be grease of some kind coming through the paint.  that leads me to believe that the painters didn't correctly prepare the walls before painting, which has been evidenced in other ways as well :(

So my best bet is probably going to be to do just what one response suggested and that is to address problem spots as needed and try my best to ignore the fact that i can't stand the appearance of the flat painted surfaces!  

As to your Scout Leader advice regarding the teenagers:  you are so right!  I should make them own their mess more!  thank you for reminding me of that!  I needed it!  And I will be sure to include cleaning and touching up the walls in their next chore list!

thank you again for your valuable advice and thank you to all the kind folks who offered their input as well!  This single mom just gained a few new tools and will be putting them to use right away!

take care,


Posted 2012-03-10T06:35:05+0000  by brookie

Hey Brookie,


Thanks for the Call-out!


Armed with your new knowledge, you'll be able to ensure your contractors do the job right the next time.


Doing it right once is soo much easier and less frustrating than paying for service that only covers up a problem ... and leaves you to repair it over and over again.


We're glad you joined The Community and look forward to helping on your next project!

Posted 2012-03-13T13:20:11+0000  by Pat_HD_ATL
color match a couple of gallons of bear semi-gloss enamel premium behr plus and paint once and let cure for 4 days the it is anti-mildew and wipable
Posted 2013-04-17T06:57:30+0000  by rgartist
first have your kids wash there hands more often, and after u paint keep them away from your masterpiece for 4 days.
Posted 2013-04-17T07:02:08+0000  by rgartist
but knowing how to paint evenly with semi-gloss enamel premium plus is an artwork. u can clean semi-gloss enamel after it cures
Posted 2013-04-17T07:06:37+0000  by rgartist
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