What is Paint Burnishing and How Can I Fix It?

Are your walls looking a little lackluster lately? Do they show several imperfections and areas of shine that aren’t supposed to be there? While you may think this is an inevitable part of every paint job and the typical wear and tear your walls face, there is actually a specific term for this problem in the painting world called paint burnishing. Luckily, with the right knowledge, you can reduce the likelihood of your walls showing paint burnishing by choosing the right paint products specifically designed to resist burnishing on painted surfaces. Read on to learn exactly what paint burnishing is, how to fix paint burnishing on your walls, and our 3 favorite products for preventing or reducing this common paint problem.


What is Paint Burnishing?


Paint burnishing occurs when a painted area shows an increased level of gloss or paint sheen due to the paint film becoming dull. Causes of dulling paint include typical wear and tear, rubbing, scrubbing, and scuffing. This unwanted increase in areas of shine is especially noticeable on darker paint colors and in flat paints. Paint burnishing most often occurs in high-traffic areas and in spaces where furniture rubs against the walls. 


How to Fix Paint Burnishing


The most effective way to fix paint burnishing is to make the surface burnish-resistant. Burnish resistance is a painted surface’s ability to hold up against wiping, cleaning, washing, and objects and furniture rubbing up against it. When these things occur, it essentially “buffs” the surface of your wall like a floor buffer does to a floor. When you scrub areas of your walls, you smooth and buff out that space on the wall, making it appear shinier and less textured than the other wall space around it. This causes that uneven, streaky-looking, burnished surface that we want to avoid.


To fix the problem of paint burnishing, there are a few different solutions. 


Choose Paint Products With High Burnish Resistance


One option is to look for a paint product that has a very high burnish resistance. Yes, this is a real measure that paint companies put their products through testing for in the research and development phase of product development. 


Our 3 favorite burnish-resistant paint products that we recommend to our customers are:



Use Paint with a High Sheen


Another way to prevent paint burnishing is to use a paint with a high level of sheen in areas where you may be frequently cleaning (such as in the kitchen, kids’ rooms, or bathrooms). The same goes if you know there will be a lot of traffic and rubbing, such as in a front entrance where backpacks, bags, shoes, and coats are often tossed or rubbed up against the wall.


Matte, eggshell, or satin sheens help paint resist stains, dirt, handprints, etc. This makes the walls easier to clean, therefore, you don’t have to scrub as hard or use as much cleaning product, which increases the likelihood of paint burnishing. 


At the same time, there are a few downsides to using paint with a higher sheen, such as the fact that higher-sheen paints show imperfections more vividly. You can read more about the different levels of paint sheen and how to choose the right one for your home in this blog post. 


In our home, we use the Sherwin-Williams Emerald Interior Acrylic Latex Paint in the flat sheen. We like the fact that it hides the drywall surface imperfections from uneven stud placement and wavy drywall. The flat sheen is also much easier to touch up when matchbox cars or dinosaurs get thrown across the room and dent up an entire section of the wall that we then need to patch and touch up. If you’re like us and have a home with energetic young boys (or your home just needs a little touch-up every now and then), you can check out our paint touch-up how-to video here. 


The paint products recommended above will hold up to the cleaning and scrubbing that magic erasers and other common household cleaners put a painted wall through while cleaning.


With this knowledge of paint burnishing in your back pocket, you can feel confident in choosing the perfect paint product for your walls and know how to prevent and combat those pesky burnish spots that you never knew how to get rid of before!


If you’re in the Raleigh, NC, or surrounding Wake County area and are looking for an interior wall paint job or refresh and want to ensure your paint job is done correctly and with the right burnish-resistant paint products, we’d love to chat with you about your project. 


Book a call with our team today to get your free quote!  

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