Can I Use Steel Wool to Rough Up a Semi-Glossy Surface?

Written by alan sembera Google
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Can I Use Steel Wool to Rough Up a Semi-Glossy Surface?
Steel wool can be used as an alternative to sandpaper. (Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images)

Many people use steel wool to rough up a semi-glossy surface. The steel wool will "degloss" the surface, changing it from a semigloss finish to more of a satin finish. You should use only the finest steel wool that is marked "0000" or "#0000." Larger-sized steel wool will leave noticeable scratches.

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You can use steel wool to degloss surfaces that have been coated with lacquer, shellac, varnish, polyurethane or paint. The technique works on wood, metal, plastic and other materials.


When you roughen the semigloss finish with steel wool, you create small scratches that diffuse the light reflections and create more of a satin finish. Without the scratches, the finish reflects more light directly off the surface. If you add too many scratches, you get no sheen at all. Fine steel wool is the perfect size to create a low sheen.


Wait for the semigloss finish to cure if it has been recently applied. Check the directions on your paint or finish to find out the exact amount of time you should wait. In most cases, 24 hours should be long enough. Use a fine sandpaper to remove any irregularities on a freshly painted or finished surface before you apply the steel wool.


Place the item you are deglossing in a position so that you can see the surface reflection on the item. Gently rub the steel wool over the finish, using long strokes. Follow the grain if the item is made of wood. Use overlapping strokes, and be careful not to rub through the finish, especially on the edges. Continue stroking until you reach the desired sheen. Make sure the sheen is even over the entire item.

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