Paint Burnishing or Marring

Burnished or marred paint on a wall.

One common complaint of contractors and homeowners alike is burnishing or marring. Burnishing occurs if the gloss or sheen of paint film increases when subjected to repeated rubbing or washing. Often occurring with the use of flat paint, it is typically seen in high-traffic areas that require frequent cleaning, like living rooms, window sills, and even doors.

Take the below steps to help prevent burnishing from happening.

What Causes Paint Burnishing or Marring?

  • Frequent washing and spot-cleaning painted surfaces, especially with an abrasive cleanser.
  • Using flat paint in high-traffic areas.
  • Using paint with minimal washability and scrub resistance.
  • Objects rubbing against the paint (furniture against walls, for example).

How to Prevent Paint from Burnishing or Marring

  • Paint heavy-traffic areas that require regular cleaning with a top-quality satin or semi-gloss latex paint, which is more durable and easy to clean. Lower-quality paint may burnish both light and deep colors.
  • Choose a satin or semi-gloss rather than a flat sheen on walls in high-traffic areas.
  • Prevent furniture and other objects from rubbing against the painted surface.
  • When necessary, clean painted surfaces with a soft cloth or sponge and non-abrasive cleansers, and rinse with clean water. For maximum durability, wait at least two weeks after painting before washing the surface.
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