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Why Does a Matte Topcoat Cause Hazing Over Dark Colors?

Hazing or a cloudy appearance can occur when applying a matte finish over dark colors. In the paint industry, we call this DOI – Distortion of Image. The waxes that give Flat Out Flat its soft feel and the additional matting agents in the formula do not allow light waves to completely refract outward when used over dark colors. Plus, dark colors naturally absorb more light. DOI does occur over light colors, you just can’t see it. Best practice is to always test your finishing schedule before completing the entire project to make sure it meets YOUR satisfaction. The amount of haze on your final project is a personal preference. For example, Flat Out Flat over Lamp Black produces a beautiful dialed-back black, if that’s the look you’re wanting to achieve. 


The increased matting agents used to create the flat look of Flat Out Flat cause it to have less clarity, show fingerprints more and provide slightly less durability than High Performance. It is recommended for low-use projects other than kitchen cabinets and tabletops. For successful use, be sure to thoroughly stir the topcoat before and during use to reincorporate any solids that have settled on the bottom of the can. No more than 3 coats of Flat Out Flat is recommended. More coats will not boost durability. If excessive coats are applied, you increase the chances of your finish getting cloudy due to the high amount of flatting agents contained in Flat Out Flat that are necessary to decrease the sheen. 

If you’ve applied Flat Out Flat and are not happy with the look, you can sand it back very lightly with a 220 foam sanding pad and re-coat with a higher sheen finish. Be sure to not be too aggressive when sanding back. Flat Out Flat will come off fairly easily compared to a higher sheen finish. 

Note: GF has tested Flat Out Flat against other brands of matte topcoats  and it performed with the least hazing. There is always a tradeoff when you are seeking specific properties in a finish