Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Sealing Your Painted Furniture with Modern Masters Dead Flat Varnish

Lets talk about topcoats for furniture. I have had a lot of bad experiences with topcoats. Polyurethanes, varnishes, waxes, you name it. I have battled brush strokes and sheen. I have had them bubble and peel. I have found drips and hairs dried in them. Yet, I find them a necessary evil. I want the furniture I sell to be durable for my clients,
so I use them.

 Over the years, I have found some products that I like more than others. I also have become somewhat better at applying them. Yet, I am always looking out for a new product, hoping to discover something that will be easy to use and dry to a beautiful finish. Well, I found it.

supplies for using modern masters dead flat varnish on furniture

Recently, I came upon Dead Flat Varnish by Modern Masters 
and I contacted Modern Masters to try the product.

I thought from the initial information I read about Dead Flat Varnish I would like it. But, I never knew I would like it so much. I love it. Really. I actually love it. Below is my review.

From the Modern Masters website,
Modern Masters Dead Flat varnishes (interior, interior low VOC, exterior, and exterior Low VOC,  These premium quality, water base, non-yellowing Dead Flat Varnishes are a water base clear finish coat formulated to have the optimum level of clarity with the least amount of sheen. They will remove undesirable variations in sheen created by using semi-gloss base coats with Decorative Glazes and allows the finish to maintain that aged effect.        

I used Dead Flat Varnish for my first time on my cream and gold French script dresser. It was easy to apply, dried quickly, and did not drip. One really big difference between the Dead Flat Varnish and previous top coats I have used is that it gives you time to rework it. I was able to go back and brush through some areas during the application to smooth or remove a stray hair. With most polyurethane, if you drag your bush back into an area you will leave brush strokes. When I was finished applying, it dried quickly and left a gorgeous matte smooth finish. I was also able to apply two coats in one day.

Steps to apply Dead Flat Varnish to furniture:

Prepping your piece for a topcoat:
  • Lightly sand with a smooth sanding block to remove anything caught in your paint finish.
  • Brush off sanding dust and any stray particles with a chip brush.
  • Wipe with a damp rag to remove any remaining dust.
  • Let dry.
  • Most importantly, wipe with a tack cloth to remove any last hair or particles.

Applying Dead Flat Varnish:
  • Apply varnish with a good brush. I always keep one brush that is just used for topcoats.
  • Work from the top. Brush the varnish left to right in long even strokes following with a light finish stroke. Work your way down, slightly overlapping strokes. Don’t worry about missed spots too much because you will catch them in your second coat.
  •  This product gives you a little time to go back so I usually check for anything stuck in the finish that I can remove with the bristle of the brush. After completing an area, run your brush along edges to catch any drips.
Video, "How to Apply Modern Masters Dead Flat Varnish"

hand painted dresser

Things I loved about Modern Masters Dead Flat Varnish
  • Great consistencty, not too watery and not too thick.
  • Applied easily and was not tacky. The brush did not drag in it.
  • You can go back and brush through areas to smooth spots and remove particles.
  • Does not show brush or lap marks.
  • Did not dry with drips.
  • Dried quickly.
  • Two coats covered completely.
  • Leaves a smooth flawless matte finish.

Dead Flat Varnish created a beautiful finish. Honestly, this is now my go to product. It was so easy to work with and to my disbelief, even easier than wax. Interested in trying Dead Flat Varnish? Visit to find Modern Masters products in your area.

The cream and gold dresser was also finished using Modern Masters gold. I will be posting the steps to create this finish next week!


Pagal Hai said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

Hi! How did this varnish do against stains? I'm considering using it on a piece of unfinished rubberwood (a dresser) for my daughter's room. I know she's going to leave water cups on it... does this offer protection from that?

Pagal Hai said...

Honestly, I'm not sure how well it will do. I think it does better with light to moderate use. Coincidentally, I just refinished a rubberwood coffee table that I sanded and stained, but I used used Minwax Oil based polyurethane in satin for durability. I love the finish it gave and it offers good protection against water damage.

Pagal Hai said...

I'm sorry, I should have added that Varathane Water Based Polyurethane in Satin and General Finishes High Performance Top Coat in Satin are both great water based top coats with good durability. I don't use Minwax Polycrylic
very often, but I'm sure it will be similar.

Unknown said...

Do you know how the MM dead flat compares to General Finishes Flat or Flat out Flat? I am looking to protect a pottery barn to Sam's table in sea drift that will be used daily.

Pagal Hai said...

I love modern Masters Dead Flat Varnish, because it is so easy to use, but I think you would get better durability with General Finishes. I've used Flat and I love it, it offers very good durability and it leaves a soft sheen. I've never used Flat out Flat, but I've read on the General Finishes website that it is slightly less durable than Flat.
The higher the sheen, the higher the durability. So let's say if you wanted really good durability, you can use General Finishes Semi-Gloss HPTC- 3 coats and then make the 4th coat Flat, or Flat out Flat to take away the high sheen.

Unknown said...

This is great advice. I hadn't thought about using a semi gloss, and then a matte over it to dull it back down to the original look.

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