Pearl Effects

Pearl Effects are water-based, acrylic, pearlescent paints used to create specialty finishes. They may be applied to General Finishes water-based stains, paints, and topcoats to produce shimmering, metallic effects.

Need some Pearl Effects inspiration? Visit the General Finishes Design Center or Pinterest Board for great furniture painting ideas.

Find A Store Compare Similar Products
General Finishes Argentine Pearl Effects, Quart

Instructions

Step 1: Preparation for Pearl Effects

General Finishes Pearl Effects must be applied over a sealed surface, such as General Finishes Milk Paint or General Finishes High Performance Topcoat.

Over a Newly Sealed Surface
If Pearl Effects are applied over a newly sealed surface, it is not necessary to sand the sealed surface before application.

Over a Previous Existing Finish
If Pearl Effects are applied over an older, existing finish, prep cleaning and sanding is required to remove dirt, grime and potential contaminants.

Sand glossy existing finishes with a fine-grade (220-320) foam sanding pad before applying Pearl Effects.

    Step 2: How To Apply General Finishes Pearl Effects

    General Finishes Pearl Effects Application Steps

    ALWAYS apply Pearl Effects over a sealed surface, such as General Finishes High Performance Topcoat or General Finishes Milk Paint; we recommend 1-2 coats of sealant before application. Sand glossy existing finishes with a fine-grade (220-320) foam sanding pad before applying Pearl Effects.

    1. Pearl Effects will separate in the can. Stir paint to reincorporate solids that have settled to the bottom before and throughout the application process. TIP: turn can upside down before stirring to make it easier to mix.
    2. If desired, thin with distilled water or General Finishes Extender. Start by adding 5% in increments up to 30% by volume as needed for spraying, glazing, dry brushing or specialty finishes. GF Extender will improve flow and leveling and increase open time, which is helpful in dry climates. 
    3. Apply 1+ coat of Pearl Effects:
      • Hand application: Apply using a synthetic bristle brush, foam brush, paint pad applicator or roller.
      • Spray application: Before spraying, strain paint through a medium-mesh filter. Spray wet films at 3-5-mil thickness. HVLP: 1.8mm-2.0mm spray tip, medium air cap. Verify tip sizes with your equipment supplier. See our general guide for spray tip sizes. Keep your gun at a 90° angle, 6-8" from the surface. On large, flat areas, use wet, even patterns 6-8" wide. For narrow surfaces, reduce the fan pattern to 2-3" wide to reduce overspray. Overlap each pass 25% to conceal lines. Wear a full filter (NIOSH/MSHA approved) respiratory & eye protection and work in a ventilated space. Visit this FAQ for more information on spraying techniques.
    4. Dry 3+ hours between coats and before topcoat in ideal conditions: 70°F/20°C; 50-70% humidity. Allow to dry completely. If in doubt, wait longer. Rushing dry time can cause clouding/blush in topcoat due to moisture trapped between coats. Increase dry time if
      • Humidity is over 80%
      • 3+ coats are applied
      • A thick coat is applied
      • Applying over an existing sealed finish
      • Applying over products from other brands
      • Layering General Finishes water- and oil-based products:
        • Water over oil: Let oil-based products dry 72+hr before applying water-based products
        • Oil over water: Let water-based products dry 24+hr before applying oil-based products
      • To accelerate dry time in humid conditions, add General Finishes Accelerator and work in a space with good ventilation and air movement. If you decide to re-coat before the recommended time, test dryness. 
    5. If a smoother texture is desired, finish sand between coats with a fine-grade (220-320) foam sanding pad to improve smoothness and adhesion.
    6. Remove dust with a vacuum, compressed air, an oil-free tack cloth or a water-dampened rag.
    7. Always seal Pearl Effects with 2-3 coats of clear topcoat.

    Cure Time
    Water-based finishes cure and harden for full use after 21 days in ideal conditions. Avoid placing heavy objects on surfaces that have not completely cured. Treat gently, and do not clean with commercial products during the curing period.

    Warning: Do not use water-based products with Linseed Oils or Danish Oils.

    Step 3: Topcoat over Pearl Effects

    ALWAYS seal General Finishes Pearl Effects with 2-3 coats of clear topcoat, e.g. General Finishes High Performance Topcoat

    Topcoat Recommendations

    Creative Techniques Using Pearl Effects

    Glaze

    MATERIALS NEEDED:

    Create a glaze by thinning Pearl Effects with 10% Extender or High Performance Topcoat.

     

    Dry Brush

    MATERIALS NEEDED:

    • General Finishes Pearl Effects
    • General Finishes Extender
    • Assorted Bristle Brushes

    STEPS:

    1. Reduce Pearl Effects by 5% with Extender.
    2. Lightly dust the mixture onto the surface with a bristle brush.
    3. For extra protection after applying Pearl Effects, seal with 1-2 coats of High Performance Topcoat. Lightly sand between coats using a fine-grade (220-320) foam sanding pad or 400-grit sandpaper.

     

    Shimmer

    MATERIALS NEEDED:

    • General Finishes Pearl Effects
    • General Finishes High Performance Topcoat

    Thin Pearl Effects with 50-80% High Performance Topcoat.

     

    Scandinavian Mixed Media Technique with Efex

    MATERIALS NEEDED:

    STEPS:

    1. Apply Efex with Dap Rapid Fuse Glue.
    2. Paint 1 to 2 coats of Summertime Blue Chalk Style Paint.
    3. Lightly wet-brush French Vanilla Chalk Style Paint over the piece.
    4. Wet-brush Charleton Blue Chalk Style Paint in corners and edges, dampen with water to lessen the effect. Blot with a paper towel. Let dry.
    5. Apply Van Dyke Glaze Effects to the entire piece. Use a wet brush or water bottle to lessen effect where needed. Wipe back.
    6. Apply Burnished Pearl Effects to corners and over Efex molding.
    7. Seal with 2-3 coats of flat water-based topcoat.

     

    Aged Metallic Finish

    MATERIALS NEEDED:

    • General Finishes Chalk Style Paint: Slate Gray
    • General Finishes Glaze Effects: Pitch Black
    • General Finishes Pearl Effects: Argentine Pearl
    • General Finishes Pearl Effects: Bronze Pearl
    • General Finishes Pearl Effects: Tawny Pearl
    • Water-Based Topcoat
    • Assorted Foam & Chip Brushes
    • Spray Water Bottle
    • Paper Towels

    STEPS:

    1. Paint 1 to 2 coats of Slate Gray Chalk Style Paint.
    2. Paint Argentine Pearl Effects thickly in a crisscross pattern, leaving strokes visible.
    3. Paint on Bronze & Tawny Pearl Effects in a crisscross pattern randomly in a few spots. Let dry.
    4. Apply Pitch Black Glaze Effects, wipe off immediately.
    5. Spray water on to remove more glaze if desired.
    6. Seal with 3 coats of water-based topcoat.

     

    Burnt Copper Look

    MATERIALS NEEDED:

    • General Finishes Pearl Effects: Copper Pearl
    • General Finishes Pearl Effects: Bronze Pearl
    • General Finishes Pearl Effects: Tawny Pearl
    • General Finishes Water Based Wood Stain: Espresso
    • Water-Based Topcoat
    • Spray Water Bottle
    • Paper Towels
    • Assorted Chip Brushes

    STEPS:

    1. Combine a 50:50 mix of Bronze and Tawny Pearl Effects with a few drops of Copper Pearl Effects added.
    2. Pounce and crisscross mix randomly all over the piece.
    3. Pounce pure Copper Pearl Effects in a few random spots.
    4. Let dry.
    5. Brush on Espresso Water Based Wood Stain and sponge off with a paper towel.
    6. Use a spray bottle of water to apply runs and lessen effect where desired.
    7. Seal with 3 coats of water-based topcoat.

    Cleanup of Water Based Products

    Application tools and materials containing water-based products can be cleaned with soap and water or GF Brush & Gun Cleaner immediately after use.

    Product Spills
    Spills may be able to be removed from fabric and carpet if cleaned immediately with soap and water.

    Storage of Water Based Products

    Life of Product
    Water-based products do not last forever, even when unopened. General Finishes products are best used within 1 year of the manufacture date listed on the bottom of the can. The life of the product may be extended with proper care and storage.

    Settling
    Gravity can cause some solids to settle on the bottom of the can and slight separation on the top. This is normal. If working with older paint, use paint mixing attachment on a drill. If the solids dissolve and clumps smooth out after mixing from the bottom, the product is in good condition for use.

    Storage Tips
    See video tutorial: Tips on Storing Leftover Finishes
    Water-based finishes crystalize and form a skin due to evaporation when the air-tight seal on a can is broken at first use. The following best practices will increase the life of your product:

    1. Pry open sealed lids with a paint can opener by hooking under the lid's rolled edge. The use of a screwdriver can disfigure the rim and lid, impairing a complete seal. 
    2. Keep lid closed while working. Pour what you will use into a bowl, paper cup, or plate, and close can lid as you work.
    3. Clean the chime of the can thoroughly with a paper towel before closing to create a complete seal. Paint in the chime can be minimized by using a pouring lid, such as Fitsall. Avoid wiping used brushes on the lid.
    4. Pound the lid in place using a rubber mallet to avoid distorting the chime or lid. Dents in the lid from direct contact with a hammer can impair a complete seal. Alternatively, place a flat piece of wood over can lid and firmly pound shut.
    5. Store in moderate temperatures. Avoid temperatures below 50°F/10°C or above 80°F/26°C. Keep from freezing. Frozen and heat-damaged product cannot be revitalized. Temperature-controlled spaces, such as a basement, are ideal for storage. Do not store product in an attic, garage, in direct sunlight, or next to something warm like a water heater or furnace.
    6. Store can upside down to create a liquid seal, minimize evaporation and reduce the chance of crystallization. Decant remaining product from the can before stirring. 
    7. Decant leftovers to a smaller container when the finish is almost used up. Alternative storage containers for water-based products are plastic FIFO bottles or glass bottles. Do not fill metal-lidded containers completely to prevent them from rusting.

    The following water-based product mixtures can be stored:

    1. Product thinned with up to 15% General Finishes Extender or General Finishes Accelerator can be stored, with the exception of thinned General Finishes Water Based Wood Stain.
    2. Mixtures involving colors & sheens within the same product line, such as:
      • High Performance Satin + High Performance Gloss
      • Snow White Milk Paint + Coastal Blue Milk Paint
      • Amber Dye Stain + Merlot Dye Stain

    The following product mixtures should NOT be stored:

    • Any water based product with thinned tap water; water often contains bacteria that will adversely affect stored paint.
    • Topcoat + Stain or Paint
    • Milk Paint + Chalk Style Paint
    • Water Based Wood Stain + Dye Stain

    Furniture Care and Maintenance

    Cure First
    You have just finished applying a fine furniture finish. Treat gently until the paint or topcoat have fully cured. Allow 21 days for a water-based finish to cure and 30 days for an oil-based finish to cure before cleaning.

    Regular Cleaning and Maintenance

    • Remove dust with a water-dampened cloth. Dust can build up over time and may scratch or dull finishes if not removed regularly. 
    • Remove fingerprints, cooking fumes and smoking residue with mild soap and water. These contaminants will not harm the finish, but they accumulate on surfaces and dull the original luster. 
    • As with all fine furniture finishes, avoid using furniture polish, cleaners or dusting sprays that contain silicone, alcohol, ammonia and anything acidic. Exception: We have successfully cleaned with Clorox wipes.
    • Clean up water, alcohol and food spills in a timely manner and use placemats & coasters to protect the finish.
    • Future finishes or touch-ups may not adhere properly or perform as desired over a contaminated surface. Some contaminants, such as silicone, seep through finish into the wood and often cannot be removed.
    • Avoid excessive exposure to direct sunlight, high temperatures or high humidity. These can damage furniture and finishes.

    Warnings and Warranties

    Compatibility: Do not use water-based products with Linseed Oils or Danish Oils.

    Limited Warranty
    General Finishes products must be tested to your complete satisfaction before using, including compatibility with other manufacturers products. General Finishes will be responsible only for the cost of our products and will not be responsible for any costs such as labor, damage, or replacement costs.

    Contamination and Compatibility
    Our finishes are engineered as a system and are compatible with each other. General Finishes cannot guarantee an ideal refinish when applying our products on top of or combined with another company's products or over surfaces that have been in contact with waxes, polishes or sprays containing contaminants such as silicone. Test for adherence and aesthetics before beginning. 

    Danger: Contents are COMBUSTIBLE. Keep away from heat and open flame. Application materials or other waste soaked with this product may spontaneously catch fire if improperly discarded. Immediately after use, place rags, steel wool or waste in a sealed, water-filled, metal container. Dispose of in accordance with local fire regulations.

    CAUTION: Contains ALIPHATIC HYDROCARBONS. VAPOR HARMFUL. Use only with adequate ventilation. DELAYED EFFECTS FROM LONG-TERM OVEREXPOSURE. Contains solvents which can cause permanent brain and nervous system damage. Intentional misuse by deliberately concentrating & inhaling the contents can be harmful or fatal.

    Warning
    If you scrape, sand, or remove old paint, you may release lead dust. LEAD IS TOXIC. EXPOSURE TO LEAD DUST CAN CAUSE SERIOUS ILLNESS, SUCH AS BRAIN DAMAGE, ESPECIALLY IN CHILDREN. PREGNANT WOMEN SHOULD ALSO AVOID EXPOSURE. Wear a NIOSH-approved respirator to control lead exposure. Clean up carefully with a HEPA vacuum and a wet mop. Before you start, find out how to protect yourself and your family by contacting the National Lead Information Hotline at 1-800-424-LEAD or log onto www.epa.gov/lead.

    Do not swallow; first aid: drink water to dilute product. May cause eye and skin irritation; first aid: flush eyes thoroughly with water.

    FIRST AID: In case of eye contact, flush thoroughly with large amounts of water for 15 minutes and get medical attention. For skin contact, wash thoroughly with soap and water. In case of respiratory difficulty, provide fresh air and call physician. If swallowed, do not induce vomiting. Get medical attention immediately. 

    Warning
    This product contains a chemical known to the State Of California to cause cancer and birth defects. Do not swallow; first aid: drink water to dilute product. May cause eye or skin irritation; first aid: flush eyes thoroughly with water.

    Specifications

    Basic Features
    Product Colors Argentine Pearl, Bronze Pearl, Burnished Pearl, Champagne Pearl, Copper Pearl, Tawny Pearl
    Base Type Water
    Interior or Exterior Interior
    Type Metallic Paint
    Application
    Coats 1+ coats
    Application Method Brush, Spray
    Brushable Yes
    Usable over existing finishes Yes
    Sprayable Yes
    Spray Tip Sizes HVLP 1.8mm-2.0mm
    Topcoat Required Yes
    Dry Time
    Dry Time - Touch 1+ hr
    Dry Time - Recoat 3+ hr
    Contents
    Can Sizes Pints
    Coverage 45 sq. ft/pint
    Technical Data
    Viscosity Medium
    Weight Solids 45%
    VOC <120 g/L

    Design Center

    Videos

    Colors

    Pearl Effects Colors

    • General Finishes Champagne Pearl Effects Color Chip

    FAQs

    Pearl Effects FAQs

    How can I create a custom glaze, wash, varnish or stain?

    You can design your own custom glazes, stains, washes, and varnishes with General Finishes intermixable water-based products. See tips and recipes below:

    For all of the following mixes, GF recommends the following two steps:

    1. Applying a base layer of High Performance Top Coat before applying your custom glaze.
    2. Protect all of these finishes with 2-3 coats of top coat when you are finished.


    Pastel Glaze/Whitewash:

    Milk Paint + Winter White Glaze Effects -OR- Milk Paint + Water Based Whitewash Wood Stain

    NOTE: Do not add more than 50% paint. If you add more than 50% you will have so much pigment that it will be difficult to wipe away the finish.


    Custom Glaze:

    For example, Pitch Black Glaze Effects + Winter White Glaze Effects

    Experiment with proportions and colors.


    Wood Stain as a Glaze:

    Water Based Wood Stain + 10% High Performance Top Coat -OR- Oil Based Wood Stain + 10% Mineral SpiritsNote: Make sure that you wait 72 hours before applying a water based top coat on top of an oil-based stain.


    Aged/Varnish Glaze:

    Water Based Wood Stain  + High Performance Top Coat 50:50 ratio - OR - Dye Stain + High Performance Top Coat 50:50 ratio


    Custom Stain Colors:

    1 part Milk Paint + 1 part Pre-Stain Natural [50:50 mix]
    -or-
    1 part Milk Paint + 1 part Glaze Effects - Clear Base [50:50 mix]
    -or-
    1 part Milk Paint +  2 parts Water Based Stain Natural [1:2 parts]

    Note: Proportions are relative to the color you are reducing. Some colors may require 2 parts clear base to reduce strength, others may require 1. Begin with a 50:50 mix, and add more clear base if necessary.

    Note: You can further increase the color palette by mixing 2 or 3 Milk Paint colors together before adding the clear base.

    Relevant Videos