Can You Paint Matt Over Silk?

One of the more frequently asked questions we get is whether you can paint matt over silk or not.

Silk paint is one of those paints that a DIYer purchases without having any real knowledge of how it’s going to look. Silk paint has a soft sheen to it and is less efficient than matt at covering any discrepancies and once people realise this, they often want to paint over it with matt.

Our focus in this article is to give you some insight as to whether you can paint matt over silk, how to do it and also offer some differing opinions from professionals within the trade.

Can You Paint Matt Over Silk?

If you’re not happy with the finish your silk paint has achieved, it’s absolutely possible to paint over it with matt paint. Whilst methods differ from tradesman to tradesman, all will agree that it is perfectly fine to paint over silk with matt.

How do you paint over silk with matt?

There is no definitive method to painting over silk with matt and each professional decorator you ask will likely have his or her own preferred way of doing it.

Method 1: Go straight over it

Many professional decorators we know will just go straight over a silk wall with two coats of matt. Of course, they’ll give it a dust down and clean but many swear by simply going straight over the old silk.

Method 2: Sanding first

Whilst you can go straight over old silk, many prefer to sand the surface down first using 180 grit sandpaper. After sanding, you would need to dust the surface down and clean it with a damp cloth. After preparing this way, you can give the wall two coats of matt paint.

Drawbacks of each method

If you use method one and go straight over the old silk paint, you won’t have anything extra for the matt paint to key to. On the other hand, if you use method two and sand the surface down first, you increase the possibility of having the new paint blister after application.

Which method is best?

I personally prefer the first method of simply going over the old silk with 2 coats of matt without sanding down first. My view is that as long as you let the first coat dry for a bit longer than usual, the second coat will go on smoothly and you shouldn’t have any issues. Besides, walls are low traffic areas so you don’t need to worry about any damage or durability issues.

To summarise, it’s perfectly fine to paint over silk with matt. As long as you clean the surface and let the first coat of matt paint dry for a bit longer than normal, you shouldn’t have any issues. It’s better to avoid sanding the surface down as this can open the new paint up to blistering problems although admittedly, that rarely happens anyway.

Opinions From Professional Decorators

To further illustrate the point at how divided decorators are on this topic, here are individual decorators explaining how they would go about painting matt over silk:


I’ve rarely had any problems with matt over silk! I do tend to do silk on silk if it’s already there unless the client wants it matt in which case I allow for the potential ballache although I’ve never had any trouble in 30 years by just going straight over the top of silk.


Soft sheen before matt; if a vinyl matt then straight on. Never sand as this causes more issues as it breaks the surface and allows the previous coats to soften and lift.


Light sand, coat with Guardz and you are good to go!


In 24 years I’ve never had an issue. Normal sand over with my Festool and 2 coats over the top.


Sand it all with a Mirka and then paint straight on with two coats. Zinsser the walls if needed beforehand.


2 coats. Job done.