Can You Paint Matte Over Silk? A Comprehensive Guide

Can you paint matte over silk

As a professional painter and decorator, a common question that I get asked is: Can you paint matte over silk? In this article, I will walk you through the process, share valuable insights, and provide expert tips to help you transform your silk-finished surfaces into beautiful matte finishes.

The Difference Between Silk and Matte Finishes

Silk and matte are both popular paint finishes. But, there are a few differences between matte and silk paint. The main difference between matte and silk paint is the level of shine in each finish. Silk paint offers a subtle glow, while matte paint gives a non-reflective appearance.

Therefore, you may want to use matte to paint over silk to help conceal imperfections on walls and achieve a more understated look.

Can You Paint Matte Over Silk?

Yes, you can paint matte over a silk finish. In fact, I recently painted over a silk finish with matte paint in an apartment in Chelsea. However, it’s not as straightforward as splashing matte paint directly onto the surface. Instead, you must correctly prepare the surface before painting to achieve a high-quality finish.

If you fail to prepare the surfaces before painting, you may run into the following issues:

  • Adhesion problems: Since silk paint has a smoother and shinier finish, applying matte paint directly without proper preparation could lead to the paint peeling, bubbling, or flaking off over time.
  • Uneven appearance: Because silk paint has more of a shine than matte paint, applying the paint directly over the silk finish without preparing the walls may result in a blotchy or inconsistent finish.

Materials You Will Need

To paint matte over a silk finish, you will need the following materials:

  • Fungicidal wash
  • Sandpaper
  • Painter’s tape
  • Primer 
  • Paint
  • Paint roller and brushes
  • Paint tray
  • Drop cloths or plastic sheets

Remember to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for all materials and tools you use, and consider any additional items based on the specific requirements of your painting project.


Before you start painting, it is essential to thoroughly prepare the surface to ensure proper adhesion of the new paint:

  1. Clean the surface: Begin by cleaning the silk-finished surface using a mild detergent and water solution. This step removes any dirt, grease, or contaminants that may hinder paint adhesion. Rinse the surface thoroughly and allow it to dry completely.

  2. Sanding: Lightly sand the silk finish using fine-grit sandpaper. This step helps create a slightly roughened surface, providing a better grip for the new paint. Remember to wipe away any dust residue after sanding.

  3. Primer application: Apply a high-quality primer suitable for the chosen matte paint. Priming helps ensure proper adhesion and uniformity of the new paint colour. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding drying times and recommended number of coats.

Painting Technique

When painting matte over silk, it is crucial to employ the right technique to achieve a smooth and consistent finish:

  1. Cutting-in: Begin by “cutting-in” the edges and corners of the walls using a high-quality angled brush. This technique ensures precise application and minimizes the risk of overlapping onto adjacent surfaces.

  2. Rolling: Use a dense, short-nap roller specifically designed for matte finishes. Start rolling the paint onto the walls in a “W” or “M” pattern, working in small sections at a time. Apply even pressure and maintain a consistent roller speed to achieve a uniform finish.

  3. Multiple coats: Depending on the desired coverage and opacity, you may need multiple coats of matte paint. Ensure each coat is completely dry before applying the next. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding drying times between coats.


In conclusion, it is possible to paint matte over silk, provided the proper preparations and techniques are followed. Thoroughly clean and lightly sand the silk-finished surface, apply a suitable primer, and use a high-quality matte paint to achieve a smooth and consistent finish. While challenges such as surface texture and colour variation exist, careful attention to detail and proper product selection will help ensure a successful transition from silk to matte.

On the other hand, if you decide to hire a professional painter and decorator to take care of this job for you, our team in Chelsea will be happy to help.