Early paints did not dry out to a flat level surface. Leveling,
in fact, was a property of paint that was much sought after
later, but until well into the 19th century, oil paints and
whitewashes showed the signs of brush marks. Application therefore
was a matter of stroking the brush in the right direction
for the best appearance. The rule of thumb was to draw the
brush in its final stokes in the direction of the grain of
Raised field paneling, then, required that the painter first
cover the surface with paint and afterward draw the brush
carefully along the vertical areas from bottom to top and
along the top and bottom bevels of the panel horizontally
from one side to the other.
In the 19th and early 20th centuries, for very fine finishes,
several coats were applied with each coat being rubbed down
with rotten stone or pumice after drying. A four to five coat
application was typical; however nine coats were not uncommon
at the end of the century for finishes in some of the grand
mansions. Generally, they were given a final glaze finish.
Though expensive, this type of finish would last for decades
and give a rich, smooth appearance.