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I've found that tide marks are generally caused by either what's in the wash (i.e. just water/paint vs water/paint/surfactant) or how it's applied. If the problem is in application, then apply thinner coats and avoid pooling (I know, sounds simple). But if the issue is with the actual wash consistency, then it's a bit more complicated if it's a pre-made company wash (like Citadel or Vallejo) vs washes you make yourself.

 

Pre-made washes I personally only have issues with applying them too heavily; the companies are pretty good about getting their formula to work well. The short answer on a homemade wash: always use a bit of surfactant to break the water's surface tension, and a little bit of it goes a long way (and there are many types of surfactants, not just flow improver).

 

A couple years ago I went on a rather long tangent (though I like to think helpful) on the science of tide marks. My rambling starts here, so you can read that if you're interested.

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Another factor is the paint you're putting the wash over. The more matte it is the more likely the wash will cling everywhere it touches, which can lead to tide marks and staining. 

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On 5/27/2021 at 12:51 AM, cmorse said:

Another factor is the paint you're putting the wash over. The more matte it is the more likely the wash will cling everywhere it touches, which can lead to tide marks and staining. 

A lot of white/off white colors also tend to have oddities with staining and marks that don't appear on others.

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