Can You Apply Semi-Gloss Over Semi-Gloss? (How-To)

Usually while applying paint, you’ll need to add more than one coat of the paint. But can you paint multiple coats of semi-gloss paint?

You can paint semi-gloss paint over semi-gloss but only if you sand the existing semi-gloss coating. This is because semi-gloss paint is smooth and moisture resistant meaning that another coat of semi-gloss paint can’t stay on an existing semi-gloss coating.

To put semi-gloss over semi-gloss, you need to change the smooth texture of the paint by sanding the top glossy layer off.

This allows a new coat to stick to the existing semi-gloss. You should also know that priming might be required depending on the type of semi-gloss paint.

Can You Apply Two Coats of Semi-Gloss?

Can You Apply Two Coats of Semi-Gloss?

You can do two coats of semi-gloss paint only if you sand the existing coat. When you sand the existing coat, the sandpaper will remove the top glossy layer of the semi-gloss paint making it possible for the second coat to stick to the existing coating. Sanding also helps to create teeth and ridges in the existing semi-gloss paint that the new coat can bite into to produce a smooth and strong finish.

Semi-gloss paint by design is not to be top-coated. The paint is designed to be used as the final coat of a paint job just like a sealant. When a coat of semi-gloss paint dries, the coat will form a very hard and moisture-resistant layer.

Ordinarily, this coat can’t be second coated because the moisture-resistant layer will prevent it from adhering. So if you second coat semi-gloss paint, the second coat will peel off quickly since there is poor adhesion between the first and second coat of the semi-gloss paint.

However, you can change this narrative by sanding the first coat before recoating. When you sand, the sandpaper will remove the top glossy layer of the semi-gloss paint that is preventing proper paint adhesion. When the top layer is removed, what remains is a textured coat of semi-gloss paint that will easily accept a second coat.

In some cases especially with oil-based semi-gloss paint, you’ll need to sand and then prime before laying the second coat of semi-gloss. So in summary, you can second coat semi-gloss paint but you’ll need proper preparation before doing so.

Can You Apply Semi-Gloss Over Semi-Gloss Without Sanding?

You can’t semi-gloss over semi-gloss without sanding first. If you semi-gloss over semi-gloss without sanding, the second coat of semi-gloss paint will not stick to the existing coat. That’s because semi-gloss paints have a moisture-resistant finish that prevents proper paint adhesion.

As explained earlier, sanding is very important while applying multiple coats of semi-gloss paint. Sanding helps to remove the top layer of the existing semi-gloss coat so the second coat of semi-gloss paint can bite into and stick to the existing semi-gloss coat.

If you don’t sand between coats of semi-gloss paint:

  • There will be weak adhesion between the first and second coat of semi-gloss paint
  • The second coat will remain wet or turn sticky
  • The second semi-gloss coat will be easily affected by debris and dust
  • The second coat of semi-gloss paint will crack and fall off quickly.
  • There will be color variations between the first and second coats of semi-gloss paint.

So in summary, sanding isn’t optional when applying a second coat of semi-gloss paint. But is priming also necessary? Let’s find out.

Related Read: Do You Have To Sand Between Semi-Gloss Coats?

Can You Paint Semi-Gloss Over Semi-Gloss Without Priming?

You can paint semi-gloss over semi-gloss without priming as long as you sand. While applying a second coat or multiple coats of semi-gloss paint, priming isn’t necessary because the second and successive coats will stick to the existing semi-gloss coat as long as you sand.

However, a coat of paint primer between two coats of semi-gloss paint will improve paint adhesion between the coats. Especially, if the semi-gloss paint is oil-based.

Oil-based semi-gloss paints are glossier and have a more protective sheen than water-based semi-gloss paint. So in this case, sanding and priming might be required to add another coat of oil-based semi-gloss paint.

Now, let’s check out how to paint semi-gloss over semi-gloss paint.

How To Paint Semi-Gloss Over Semi-Gloss?

To paint semi-gloss over semi-gloss, you’ll need a few tools and supplies:

  • Sandpaper
  • Clean Rags
  • Semi-gloss Paint
  • A paintbrush
  • A pair of gloves and breathing protection (or a face mask)

Here is a 5-step guide to painting semi-gloss over semi-gloss:

  • Let the first semi-gloss coat dry
  • Sand the first semi-gloss coating
  • Prime the semi-gloss paint (optional)
  • Apply another coat of semi-gloss paint

Now, let’s get to work.

1. Let The First Semi-Gloss Coat Dry

Let The First Semi-Gloss Coat Dry

The first step is to allow the first semi-gloss coating to dry enough for a recoat. On average, semi-gloss paint dries enough for a recoat 2 hours after the first coat was applied.

If you recoat without the first coat being dry enough, the whole finish will not dry properly. Also, there might be bleed through in the second coat as the solvent in the first coat will stain the second coat.

To know if the first semi-gloss coat is dry enough for a recoat, feel the texture of the paint. If it feels dry, hard, and glossy, then the paint is dry enough. If the paint feels wet or sticky, you should leave it to dry longer.

2. Sand The First Semi-Gloss Coating

Sand The First Semi-Gloss Coating

When the first coat is dry enough, you should sand it. Sanding will remove the top glossy layer so the next coat can stick well. You should only sand with fine-grit sandpaper.

Also, you don’t have to do much sanding since you want to remove the top glossy layer of the semi-gloss paint and not the whole paint.

After sanding, you should wipe the semi-gloss coat with a clean rag to remove dust nibs and grain from the surface. If you don’t do this, the dust nibs will cause pimples and ridges in the second semi-gloss coat.

3. Prime The Semi-Gloss Paint (Optional)

Prime The Semi-Gloss Paint (Optional)

As explained earlier, priming isn’t necessary between coats of semi-gloss paint. But if you are painting over a damaged surface or you are using an oil-based semi-gloss paint, then a coat of primer paint will not hurt your chances of getting a strong and smooth finish.

You should only apply a light coat of primer after sanding and not before. Also, don’t apply more than one light or thin coat of primer paint on the existing semi-gloss paint.

4. Apply The Second Coat of Semi-Gloss Paint

Apply The Second Coat of Semi-Gloss Paint

When the primer coating is dry and the first semi-gloss coat is smooth, you can apply the second coat of semi-gloss paint. It’s generally advised to add thin coats of semi-gloss over an existing semi-gloss coat.

If you want to apply a third coat of semi-gloss paint, you should know that you’ll have to sand the second coat too. It’s only the final coat of semi-gloss that doesn’t need to be sanded.

4 coats of semi-gloss paint will be too much unless you thin the semi-gloss paint first. You should let the semi-gloss finish dry for at least 24 hours before using the surface.

Can You Put Water-Based Semi-Gloss Over Oil-Based Semi-Gloss?

You can put water-based semi-gloss paint over oil-based semi-gloss paint but it’s not advised to do so. This is because oil-based semi-gloss paints are glossier and as such are more moisture-resistant.

This makes it more difficult to paint over oil-based semi-gloss paint especially with water-based semi-gloss paints. Water-based semi-gloss paint and oil-based semi-gloss paints have different bases or solvents (water and oil) which are not compatible.

To put a water-based semi-gloss paint over oil-based semi-gloss paint, you need to ensure that the oil-based semi-gloss paint is completely dry. On average, this will take about 3 days.

You’ll have to sand the oil-based semi-gloss paint properly to remove any gloss that can prevent good paint adhesion. Finally, you might need to prime the oil-based semi-gloss paint with a thin coat of primer paint to allow the water-based semi-gloss paint to stick perfectly.

So in summary, you can put water-based semi-gloss paint over oil-based semi-gloss paint but you’ll have to do a lot of prep work. Now, let’s find out if you can put oil-based semi-gloss paint over water-based semi-gloss paint.

Can You Put Oil-Based Semi-Gloss Over Water-Based Semi-Gloss?

You can put oil-based semi-gloss paint over water-based semi-gloss paint. This is because water-based semi-gloss paints don’t have as much sheen or gloss as oil-based semi-gloss paints.

As such, the water-based semi-gloss paint is not as water-resistant and can be easily top coated with an oil-based semi-gloss paint.

To put oil-based semi-gloss paint over water-based semi-gloss, all you need to do is sand. You don’t need to prime as the oil-based semi-gloss paint will stick without a primer coating. You should also ensure that the water-based semi-gloss paint is completely dry before putting oil-based semi-gloss over it.

Final Words

Overall, you can apply multiple coats of semi-gloss paint but you need to sand properly so successive coats can bind properly to the existing coat.

You should also ensure that the existing coat is completely dry to prevent bleed-through and staining. Though priming isn’t necessary, a thin coat of paint primer will improve paint adhesion between coats of semi-gloss paint especially if you are using oil-based semi-gloss paint.

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