Enameling is harder than painting, but the results are worth a good deal of effort because a hard, durable coating which nothing else would produce is possible with enamel. Enamel has the added advantage of being washable.
All enamels need undercoats to ensure the proper foundation before the finish coat or coats are applied. These undercoats dry up having a flat finish. The use of an undercoat is necessary since the enamel is partially transparent, for it is made with the best light-colored varnish to assure proper gloss and flow. To enamel a surface:
1. Prepare the surface as you would normally for painting. Clean painted surfaces need little preparation, but stained surfaces must be treated like new surfaces.
2. Apply one or more coats of enamel undercoat (available in white) or flat paint, using a brush commonly used for paint. Leave this to dry for 24 hours. White enamel keeps its color better if grayed by adding of 1 tea-spoonful of black enamel to a gallon. Enamel paint could be slow and sticky, especially in cold weather. Place the can in a pot of hot water and you’ll have a smoother solution that applies on more smoothly.
3. Check for blemishes. Resand using No. 00 sandpaper.
4. Apply any needed additional undercoats and let dry. Resand as necessary.
5. Put on a coat of enamel, using flow-on strokes of the brush to prevent brush marks. Enamel paints are “self-leveling” and should not require rebrushing if paint is applied correctly. Allow the enamel to dry for 48 hours unless a special quick-drying paint is employed. Resand the surface using No. 00 sandpaper.
6. Apply second and third coats adopting the same process. Allow 72 hours for drying. If enamel must be (applied over enamel, a bit of cornstarch added to the second coat will give a better bind.
7. For a dull finish, rub with a paste made of pumice and linseed oil, employing straight strokes with the grain. Remove excess with a wet rag and brush.
8. Keep a small amount of the paint of any mixed color for later touch-ups. A Q-tip or a swab of cotton on a tooth pick makes a convenient touch-up brush that can be disposed after it has been used.