Getting a Fine Stipple Texture Finish

      How to tweak fluid and air settings to get a textured finish coat. November 11, 2008

I have a project where I need to do a very fine satin black texture finish over MDF. I would not call it an orange peel, as it is much finer. The best way to describe it is it is very similar to the texture on many of the older plastic computer components (e.g. printers or monitors), but perhaps slightly heavier. I have gone to several paint stores and they just scratch their heads. I know it is possible because I have a sample. When it is done it is hard to tell if it is paint or moulded plastic.

Some suggest it is done with the settings on the gun, but I don't have time for too much experimentation right now. A friend of mine said there are beads that can be added to the paint to achieve the texture. I can only think of glass bead that is that small, and that would probably tear the tip and needle of the gun apart in short order.

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor J:
I know this is not what you want to hear, and you can pay for sand or beads or self texture paints if you wish, but the way to do a texture is simply to use a pressure pot and set your air pressure lower than your fluid pressure. Depending on the type of paint you use, start with about 8lbs air to 15lbs fluid. Turn your fluid flow control on the gun down for a finer satin type texture. Open it up for a larger one. Shoot a smooth base coat, let it dry and then mist the texture coat over it. Build the coats slowly, allowing more distance off the gun than normal. Remember you want something in between dry spray and a full wet coat. Adjusting the size of the texture is a simple matter - practice on a piece of cardboard first. Remember the lower your air pressure is in relation to the fluid pressure, the bigger the size of your texture will be. A small texture such as you are going for may even be achieved with a gravity gun, simply by dropping the air pressure. I did this every day for years when I was a metal finisher. This is way easier to do than to explain.

From contributor R:
I agree with contributor J - low pressure stipple. However, all of the textures I have done were with 2k urethanes, as they hold the texture better. You can achieve many different effects by varying the fluid and air pressure plus the distance of the gun from what you are spraying. Practice on some samples first...

From the original questioner:
This *is* what I want to hear. Thank you. It makes sense and I am kicking myself for not realizing it to begin with. I appreciate the "start with" pressure settings. I would love to do this in a water base. Am I going to be chasing a lost cause trying it? Also, any tip size recommendations? Or does it not matter so much? What is a 2k urethane?

From contributor C:
I've done it with water base material... I am sure that I am not the only one. You probably don't need to change tips, but larger tips create coarser textures (sounds like you need a pretty fine one, though). Thicker material also creates coarser texture and thinner material finer textures. The key is to make test panels until you get what you want and to keep track so that you can duplicate that as often as needed. Samples, samples, samples... they really do work and any shortcuts that eliminate the samples will be likely to turn into long detours.

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