Decorative Painting Tips: Basecoating

Read the full Basecoating Guide

  • If mixing your own colour for basecoating, make sure you mix a good amount so as not to run out before you complete your basecoating. You might not get the same colour when you mix it again. More is better.

  • Use a good quality brush with soft bristles for basecoating - one that you use specifically for painting. Use a separate brush for varnishing if you can afford it.

  • Use the largest brush that will fit on the area, or in the space. Fewer strokes make for a smoother finish.

  • A 1" flat brush is the standard brush for basecoating. You should also consider using a 1 1/2" flat brush if your surface is large. A 1" filbert brush is the best brush to basecoat with because the soft rounded edges of the brush means that you are less likely to leave obvious brush marks on your surface a you apply the basecoat.

  • A small sponge roller is an excellent alternative to a brush. It gives a beautiful even eggshell finish and its faster! When choosing a sponge roller, make sure its around 2" wide. When purchasing, make sure that the sponge is a firm, good quality foam.

  • When basecoating with a brush, load the brush with paint as you would normally load it to paint your design i.e. don't just dip the tip of the brush in the paint but press the brush down in the puddle of paint so that the brush hairs open and suck the paint up. Blend a few times on the palette to make sure the brush is fully loaded with paint. Never overload the brush with paint for basecoating.

  • Use the brush at a low angle, taking advantage of the broad side of the brush instead of just the bristle tips.

  • If the paint doesn't seem to flow smoothly, add a little Flow Medium to the paint instead of water and mix well. Flow medium does not lighten the colour of your paint, water does.

  • Several medium or thin coats of basecoat paint are better than one or two thick coats.

  • For a very smooth finish - dry between coats using a hairdryer, then lightly sand with 600 grit sandpaper, wipe down lightly with a cotton rag to remove any dust, and then apply another coat, sand again and wipe. Repeat up to three coats. If the last layer feels smooth, you need not sand anymore. If you are unsatisfied with the texture, sand it lightly using even higher grit sandpaper. Sanding marks should not show on the surface. Even if they do, it will disappear when you varnish it.

  • When using a hairdryer to dry between coats, wait until the surfaces cools before applying the next coat of paint. Painting on a warm surface will dry the paint in your brush and cause it to drag.

  • Dark backgrounds are easier to basecoat - light backgrounds such as whites and creams are the most difficult. You may need more layers to get a smooth coverage.


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Understanding Colour
All About Brushes

Basecoating Guide

Varnishing Guide



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