Good Vibes Blog

My War with Top Coat on Black Paint

Top Coating Black Painted Furniture is the worst for me. It shows every sin that exists: each speck of dust, tiny lint, and brush marks. White is so much more forgiving – at least for me! What follows is my Tung Oil Story and an attempt to reach finish paradise on black.

The Best Black Paint

The best black paint I’ve used so far is General Finishes Lamp Black. It is super smooth and has mega pigment. I’ve never had to apply more than two coats to get a solid black cover with minimum brush stroke struggles. I’ve used a small roller to eliminate brush strokes all together and had great results.

It is NOT CHALK PAINT and it is not real milk paint, which is very helpful when applying top coat on black. I find black chalk paint absorbs the first top coat so quickly I can never get rid of the brush marks even after applying several coats.

Top Coat Comparisons

Top coating is where my trouble begins and the phrase “to save money”. I purchased water-based Polycrylic by MinWax. For the longest time, I thought something was wrong with me every time I used it! I could not win against the too-fast drying wet edge therefore ruining the super smooth rolled-on black paint. The end result was super ugly brush marks from the top coat. Rolling on top coat does not help solve that problem. Yes, I tried a wool applicator but the lint! Ugh! Smooth black paint shows every tiny speck of dust and lint.

Finally, I broke down and bought a higher quality more expensive product AND I switched to a full brush that holds more product. The best top coat product I’ve used so far is General Finishes. It is my new go to for top coat because it keeps a wet edge a little longer, smooths out nicely. Country Chalk Defender is real nice too.

The worst product I used on black caused white foam spittle (disgusting) build up occurred in corners using Rust Oleum’s Chalked Flat and it dried that way! It almost ruined a Wine Bar until I covered the white spittle with black marker – not something I like to admit.

Tung Oil on Black Paint

I’m in the process using of Tung Oil on black paint. I wiped it on with a soft rag and smoothed it out evenly. So far, I love the way it looks when it’s first applied but I hate how it stays tacky for days. Pieces of dust and lint that flies through the air stick to it – but they come off when the oil dries.

It looks darn ugly during the drying process. I’m waiting the recommended 7 days before I judge the final look and it better be good. Fast forward 7 days, the streaks are still there and the piece is totally dry without any stickiness anywhere.

Seriously, Topcoat Over Tung Oil?

My patience is gone! I whip out the General Finishes HP Flat top coat (first using a tack cloth to remove the accumulated dust and lint) taking a chance that it reacts poorly with the tung oil. I got nothing to loose. It did not! The top coat went on incredibly smooth and easy then dried to the richest not shiny sheen ever!

Black Distressed Dresser
Americana Shaker Folksy style Black Dresser

So to get the most amazing finish came from wiping on tung oil, waiting a week then applying top coat. Would I do it again? Gee, I hate to think this is the only way to get a buttery smooth black look but, yeah, I might do it again.


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