Painting Over Gloss Without Sanding: Dos And Don’ts

When touching up an existing paint job sanding beforehand is important as it ensures the paint sticks properly. This is particularly true with gloss paint. If you paint a glossy wall without sanding it may lead to peeling in the future, as the paint will have nothing to grip to. 

When repainting furniture it is also important to sand off any varnish or sealer so the new paint will stick. However, this is not always ideal for painting pieces of furniture like a chair, for example.

Sanding furniture or a wall down before painting can be tricky, tedious, and time-consuming. Also, if you want to update semi-gloss walls that were painted with lead-based paint, this will prevent you from sanding anyway.

So while sanding is important, if you’re looking for a simple and quick way to paint over gloss it is possible to do this without sanding or priming. One of the best paints to use when painting over a semi-gloss wall is satin paint.

Not only does it offer a rich, luxurious look to interior walls it is easier to clean than flat paint and is more forgiving of imperfections and dirt than semi-gloss paint. 

Below we will go through the steps of painting over a semi-gloss wall with satin paint without the need for sanding or priming. Then, we will cover the dos and don’ts of painting over gloss without sanding. 

How to paint over a semi-gloss wall with satin paint:

Before you start painting, a clean wall is a must. Mix ½ cup of ammonia with 1 gallon of warm water and wipe the walls clean with a rag. If you’re painting in your kitchen, it’s worth going over the walls twice with a rag and clean water due to the grease and grime buildup.

Next, take anything off the walls that could get in your way and that you don’t want to get paint on, such as hooks, picture frames, handles, and outlet plates.

You also need to know what type of semi-gloss has been used on the walls. If water-based semi-gloss paint has been used then you will need to use water-based satin paint. If it’s oil-based you will need to use oil-based satin paint.

If you’re unsure, however, a handy trick is to get a cotton ball soaked with acetone or nail polish remover and rub it on the wall. If the cotton ball is stained with color then the wall has been painted with water-based paint.

If you rub the cotton ball on the wall and it’s squeaky clean, then oil-based paint has been used. This method also works with denatured alcohol.

It’s also important to make sure that the satin paint you’ve chosen closely matches the color of the semi-gloss, especially if you’re looking to do a quick paint job. A color change is more time-consuming as it requires extra layers of paint. This makes for a longer overall job and the paint takes longer to dry.

To avoid paint getting on floors and furnishings cover everything with drop cloths. If you’re concerned about paint getting under drop cloths, you can secure the edges with painter’s tape.

Use a stiff-bristled brush to etch old paint. Etching helps the paint to stick, especially in grooves and tricky corners and edges, and on window and door edges. Next, open your paint can and stir well with a wooden mixing stick.

Dip your brush into the paint (a 2-inch trim paintbrush should do the trick) and apply along the windows and door edges, working the paint into grooves and ridges. 

Pour about an inch of paint into a roller pan, and move a mohair roller back and forth through the paint. This will saturate the roller with paint and makes sure the paint is spread throughout the pan.

You can then begin painting your first coat on the walls in sections from 4 to 6 feet. Make sure to use even strokes, and keep on reapplying paint to the roller so it doesn’t dry out. 

Once you’ve given all your walls their first coat of fresh paint, you can then apply the second coat. Use side-to-side strokes and keep doing this until the color looks even. All you need to do then is wait for the paint to dry, and make touch-ups if you notice any streaking. 


  • Know your paint – As we have discussed above, matching up the base of your semi-gloss paint with the satin alternative is essential. This also applies to painting wood. If you’re looking to cover up glossy paint on wooden furniture make sure you use paint that is kind to wood. This can be oil-based paint or latex paint. Latex paint is water-based and has the edge in that it’s not as messy and you can do the job with a paint sprayer. Oil-based paints, however, do compliment a varnished surface and work well under a final coat of paint. 
  • Properly prep your surfaces – You can’t go wrong with wiping down your walls with a clean, soapy rag, but using a deglosser is also an option. 
  • Use a liquid deglosser – A deglosser, such as Krudd Kutter or M1, can be a good first step to painting over gloss without sanding. Deglosser works like sandpaper but without all the dust and is much quicker. These products are specifically designed to degloss most surfaces and help create a chemical bond between a glossy base and a new coat of paint. You will need a pair of protective glasses and some rubber gloves to use a deglosser. Soak a rag with the deglosser, then wipe the glossy surfaces with the rag. Your wall should be ready to paint within 10 minutes, but you can wait up to 7-10 days before painting too. 
  • Use primer (if you can) – If you would rather not sand down your surfaces before painting, it is recommended to still use a primer if you can. Primer is quicker and easier to use than sanding the area. Simply apply the primer and wait for it to dry. You can then paint the surface as normal using emulsion. Oil-based primers are ideal but make sure it’s a primer that you can also use under latex paint, as the efficacy of oil-based primers varies. It’s also worth scuffing the surface with a green brillo pad, but also always make sure to clean the surface with a damp rag to get rid of lingering debris or dust. For painting over high gloss paint a high gloss primer such as Kliz improves the adhesion of the topcoat to the base. It is important to make sure the primer you’re using to paint over high-gloss paint is suitable for enamel paint. 
  • Scuff the surface – Another way to prepare your glossy wall for a new paint job without sanding is to simply scuff the surface. Scuffing up the surface with 220 grit sandpaper should do the trick as it helps the new paint to bond. 
  • Use self-priming paint – This all-purpose paint is formulated to skip the step of priming or sanding a wall before painting. High-quality self-priming paint is particularly effective for painting over high-gloss surfaces and prevents future peeling.


  • Paint over lead-based paint – Many paints before 1980 included lead. If you think your wall was painted with lead-based paint, reconsider painting over it and be extremely careful. This is particularly important when painting edges around windows and trim.
  • Paint over gloss without preparing your wall – A clean wall is crucial before painting over any wall. You can ensure this by either investing in a liquid deglosser or simply using clean, soapy water and a rag. 
  • Use paint that has a different base – Make sure that the paint you’re using to paint over your glossy surfaces has a similar base for the best effect. 

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About Sergio

Sergio is an author and editor of Abbey Power Tools. DIY enthusiast, and once a retail assistant at B&Q, loves to write and now gives advice on everything home improvement to everyone visiting this website.

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