How To Get A Matte Finish On Wood – A Guide For Beginners

Get a Matte Finish on Wood

The quest for a matte finish on wood is one shared by many, whether you’re crafting furniture, restoring antique pieces, or just doing a DIY job. Fortunately, it’s a relatively straightforward process, as long as you know what to do.

First, you need to ensure that thewood is clean and free from dirt, oils, or finishes that might hinder the new finish you’re trying to apply. Depending on the type of wood, you’ll want to use a suitable cleaner, such as a TSP-PF solution, mineral spirits, or a wood-cleaning product specifically designed for your type of wood. Make sure to wear a face and eye protection when cleaning wood.

Once you’ve cleaned the wood, it’s time to apply a finish. A matte finish typically requires less coats than a glossy finish, but you’ll still want to apply at least two thin coats, waiting overnight between each coat. It’s best to apply varnish or lacquer, which are both durable finishes that have a matte look. Be sure to use even, overlapping strokes while applying any finish to get the desired look.

Finally, be aware that a matte finish requires special care. Avoid using harsh cleaners, which can strip the finish over time. Instead, use a gentle, pH-balanced cleaner during dusting and an occasional damp cloth for detailed cleaning.

Preparing the Wood

Sanding the wood is the most important element of achieving a successful matte finish. Start by sanding the wood lightly with a fine grit sandpaper. This will remove any impurities and smooth out the wood to create a uniform texture. It is important not to sand too much as this can damage the wood and make it more difficult to apply the finish.

Once the wood is sanded, use a dusting cloth to remove any remaining particles. This will help ensure a consistent and smooth finish. You may also want to use a vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment to completely clean the surface before applying a finish.

To further protect the wood, apply a sealant or primer. This will protect the wood from damage and provide a smoother surface for your finish, which will result in a more even and uniform look. Depending on the type of wood you are using, select a sealant or primer that is specifically made for that material.

Lastly, apply a finishing oil or varnish to the wood before you begin to apply the matte finish. This will provide a protective layer that will help keep the wood from becoming damaged, and will also provide a base for the actual matte finish. Make sure to use a thin and even coat and allow the varnish to dry before proceeding to the next step.


Applying a Finish

Preparing the wood is the most important step in achieving a high-quality matte finish, as any inconsistencies or imperfections will be visible in the end result. Before applying any type of finish to the wood, you should first use sandpaper or a sander to smooth out any bumps or blemishes. Tape off any areas you don’t want painted or stained, and make sure to get rid of dust or residue with a wet cloth.

Once the wood is prepped, you’re ready to apply the finish. Depending on which type of finish you’ve chosen, the application process may vary. Oil-based and wax-based finishes should be brushed onto the wood and left to dry for several hours. Water-based finishes, meanwhile, should be sprayed on with a paint gun or rolled on with a roller. To get the best results, apply multiple thin coats, allowing each one to dry before applying the next.

When you’re finished applying the finish, make sure to inspect the surface for any areas that need touching up. Once you’re happy with the result, allow the finish to dry for 24 hours before going on to the next step.

Caring for a Matte Wood Finish

To properly care for a matte wood finish, make sure to dust and clean the wood surface as needed. Be sure to use a clean cotton cloth, and clean the entire surface instead of only certain areas. The cloth should be dampened with warm, soapy water and be wrung out before use. Do not use a high-pressure washer on your matte wood finish as the pressure can damage the surface and cause it to crack. Additionally, some abrasive or acidic cleaners can wear away your finish or cause it to discolor. Avoid using harsh detergents or cleansers that can damage the wood.

To give your matte wood finish longevity, it is important to apply regular coats of sealer. Additionally, you can use a matte finishing wax to protect the wood from stains, water, and other sources of damage. Before applying a sealer or wax, make sure to thoroughly clean the surface first. This will ensure that these finishes adhere properly to the wood.

When caring for a matte wood finish, it is important to take the time to do it properly. By following the tips outlined in this article, you can keep your wood looking beautiful for years to come. If done correctly, your matte wood finish will look as good as it did the day it was applied.

Selecting the Right Matte Finish

When selecting the right matte finish for your woodworking project, there are a few common options available. The most popular choices are oil-based, water-based and wax finishes. Each of these can provide a beautiful, durable matte finish, but understanding the different properties of each will help you decide which is the best for your project.

Oil-based finishes are generally the cleanest and easiest to apply, but they are also the least durable. They are best suited for wood that won’t be exposed to a lot of wear and tear, like wood furniture and cabinets. Oil-based finishes also need to be applied multiple times to achieve an even finish, so it is important to take your time and be patient with the application.

Water-based finishes are more durable than oil-based ones and provide great protection against water and harsh conditions. They can be a bit trickier to apply because they tend to dry quickly, but with the right techniques they can provide a very smooth, even finish. Water-based finishes are great for outdoor projects that need extra protection from the elements.

Wax finishes are the most natural looking of the three and the most difficult to apply. Wax finishes are not very durable and need regular maintenance, but they do have the benefit of being easy to repair if minor damage does occur. Wax finishes are great for projects that don’t need a lot of protection, like decorative pieces and art.

When selecting the right matte finish for your project, it’s important to consider the type of wood you are working with as well as how much wear and tear it will be exposed to. Taking the time to select the right finish that meets your needs will ensure a beautiful, long-lasting project.

Oil-Based Finishes

Oil-based finishes are one of the most traditional types of finishes for wood. They are long-lasting and provide a beautiful matte finish. They are available in a variety of gloss levels, including completely matte finishes. These finishes penetrate into the wood, providing a rich hue to the wood while sealing and protecting it from the environment. The downside is that the application process is a bit more complicated and time-consuming than water-based or wax finishes.

The application process starts with sanding the wood to create a smooth surface for the finish to adhere to. When sanding, use a gradually finer grit of sandpaper until you have created a smooth and even surface. After sanding, clean the wood to remove any dust or debris, and then use a lint-free cloth to apply the oil-based polyurethane. Start in one corner of the wood and work in long, even strokes until you have covered the entire surface.

Allow the first coat to completely dry before applying a second coat. If the polyurethane starts to form brush marks, use a very fine grit of sandpaper to lightly sand the area until it is back to a smooth, even surface. Repeat the application process for two to three coats, or more depending on the desired finish.

Oil-based polyurethane is best used on hardwood flooring, furniture, and trim. It can also be used on other types of wood but may not provide the same results. A quality oil-based polyurethane finish will last for years and is a great option for those looking for a classic, matte wood finish.

Water-Based Finishes

Water-based finishes are some of the most sought-after products for a matte finish on wood. They dry fast and leave behind no detectable odors. This makes them an ideal choice for someone looking to finish a project quickly and cleanly.

The composition of water-based finishes consists mostly of acrylic or polyurethane bound together with water. Not only are water-based finishes easy to use and quick to dry, but they also provide wood with an exceptionally clear, even finish. This gives the wood a smooth, professional look. However, these finishes can’t be applied as thickly as oil-based finishes, so they don’t provide as much protection from water or wear and tear.

It’s important to note that water-based finishes have a lower tolerance rate for moisture in the air. Without proper preparation, the finish can dry too quickly and with a grainy finish. To avoid this, make sure the wood is clean and free of dust, and that the surrounding air is at the right temperature and humidity level. Also, don’t forget to give yourself plenty of time to apply the finish evenly and smoothly.

Water-based finishes are an ideal solution for the DIYer looking for a quick, easy way to get a polished, matte finish on their wood project. Just make sure to prepare the wood and environment properly, and give yourself plenty of time for a smooth, even application.

Wax Finishes

Wax is a great choice for finishing wood with a matte look. Beeswax and carnauba wax are two of the more popular synthetic blends that are used for finishing wood. The wax provides a subtle sheen and will not yellow or darken the wood over time, so it’s a great choice for materials that you want to keep their original shade. For wax finishes, it’s important to apply several thin coats with a soft cloth. This will ensure the desired level of protection with minimal buildup on the surface. Wait a few hours between each coat and use a buffing cloth to remove any excess wax. Natural wax also works as a sealant to repel moisture and dirt, keeping the wood looking fresh and new. Lastly, make sure to use a wax finish that is appropriate for the type of wood you’re applying it to, as some wax finishes can be too harsh for certain types of wood.

Expert Tips for Proper Wood Finishing

When it comes to finishing wood, there are some expert tips that you should consider to ensure the best possible result. Choosing the right wood is crucial in achieving the desired finish. Not all wood species are suitable for staining and finishing, particularly when aiming for a matte finish. Selecting a wood species with an open grain such as oak or cherry can offer better results.

Once you’ve chosen the right species, proper sanding is also essential. The key is to start with the coarsest grain and step up in decreasing the coarseness with each step. This will create a smooth and even surface that can easily absorb the finish. This process of sanding will also achieve a professional looking matte finish since the surface will be even without any markings or irregularities.

The application of the finish is the most important part. Applying the finish evenly and uniformly is key to a successful matte finish. After applied, it should be given sufficient time to dry before coating the wood with an additional layer of finish. Achieving a uniform finish can be a bit tricky and daunting for a novice, so if you’re in doubt, it’s highly recommended to let the professionals take over.

Choosing the Right Wood

When choosing wood for a matte finish, it’s important to consider the look you’re going for, as certain types of wood may require more attention than others. For example, a piece of maple may show wear more quickly than a piece of walnut, which is known for its durability and ability to hold stains better than some other types of wood. If natural grain is a factor in your project, different types of wood will offer different patterns and looks, so be sure to consider that when selecting your wood.

When it comes to the quality of the wood, you should always look for pieces that are free of knots, chips, or other blemishes that may affect the look of the finished product. While these blemishes may be sanded out, it will require additional labor and may cause unequal staining or color discrepancies after the finish is applied.

In addition to looking for blemishes, you should also make sure the wood has been dried properly before it is sanded and finished. When wood isn’t properly dried, it can warp or bow over time and cause the matte finish to look uneven, so you’ll want to find wood that has been dried to approximately 10% moisture content before you purchase it.

When selecting the right wood for your project, it’s also essential to make sure it is suitable for the type of finish you plan to apply. Not all woods are compatible with all finishes, so you’ll want to make sure the wood you’re using is suitable for the type of matte finish you plan to apply.

Sanding the Wood

Sanding the wood is an essential first step when it comes to achieving a consistent matte finish. The smoother and more even the wood’s surface is, the better the finish will look. Start with a coarse grit of sandpaper – 80 to 120 works best – and then switch to finer grits, like 220 or 320 grit.

Make sure to sand with the grain of the wood. If you’re using an electric or orbital sander, determine the direction of the grain and move the sander back and forth along the same line. If you’re using a block sander, use the same technique, but with the block in the same direction throughout your sanding.

Also be careful not to sand too deeply, as this can cause adverse effects on the final finish. It’s best to lightly sand to begin with and then go over the wood with a very fine grit for a truly even finish. Don’t forget to wipe the wood down after sanding too, as this will remove any debris left over from the process.

Sanding is a critical part of achieving a high-quality matte finish on wood. By taking the time to sand the wood properly, you can ensure that the finish will be even and smooth, resulting in a stunning and durable finish that will last for years.

Applying the Finish Evenly

When it comes to achieving a matte finish on wood, proper application of the finish is key. Applying the finish evenly helps to achieve a uniform, matte look. It’s important to use a few tools and techniques to ensure it is evenly distributed.

First, use a fine-bristled brush to apply the finish in long strokes along the grain of the wood. This helps the finish spread more evenly, giving the wood a matte look. When using an oil-based finish, a natural-bristle brush is best; when using water-based finishes, you should use a synthetic-bristle brush.

Second, be sure to overlap each stroke of the brush so that there are no gaps. If there are any gaps, the finish may dry in patches, leaving streaks on the wood. This can lead to an uneven finish and detract from the desired matte effect.

Finally, use a soft cloth to wipe down the wood after applying the finish. This helps to smooth out any brush strokes and create a more even look. Be sure to wipe in the direction of the grain of the wood, or the streaks could become more visible.

In summary, applying the finish evenly is an important part of achieving a matte effect on wood. Take the time to use the right brush and techniques, and follow up with a soft cloth to smooth out any marks left by the brush. With a little care and patience, you’ll be able to achieve a uniform, matte finish on your wood project.


Devin B

Hi everyone! My name is Devin and I'm the author of this website about tips for woodturning and wood finishing. I'm an avid woodworker and have been doing it for over a decade. I'm constantly learning new techniques and experimenting with new materials and finishes.

I started my journey in woodworking when I was a teenager, making furniture for my bedroom and small projects for my family. As I got older, my interest in woodturning and wood finishing grew. I took classes on the subject and read books on the topic.

I'm passionate about woodturning and wood finishing because it allows me to express my creativity in a tangible way. I love the satisfaction of seeing a piece of wood that I have transformed from a block of raw material into a beautiful finished product.

I hope you find the tips and advice on this website helpful. If you have any questions or comments, please don't hesitate to contact me. I'm always happy to help out and share my experiences. Thanks for visiting my website!