I've messed up paint/poly problem

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Forum topic by dogdoc posted 01-30-2013 09:34 AM 1341 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2 posts in 1909 days

01-30-2013 09:34 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question finishing

I’ve gotten myself into a paint pickle, and as will be clear when you read about it, I don’t know what I’m doing. I need suggestions on how to best fix my problem. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

We’ve built some storage/closet shelves out of plywood. The room is small, adjacent to a concrete storm shelter (with some moisture) and has been cold. When working in the room, I’ve run a small fan/heater, but during the day (while gone) the space heater has been turned off. There is not a lot of airflow in the room, but I try to leave the door open with the ceiling fan next door running when I can.

I applied two coats of Zinnser Bullseye 123 primer (water based), then applied 2 coats of Valspar interior water-based latex. The primer coats were 24 hours apart, then waited 5 days and the two paint coats were 24 hours apart. The were completely dry.

Here’s where I start screwing up: 5 or 6 days later, I applied an oil-based Minwax quick dry poly to the top surfaces of the shelves. I was hoping to give some added protection to the “high traffic” areas . it was supposed to be a satin finish, but it dried very high gloss. I did stir very well prior to application, but didn’t stir it again (as it was a pretty quick job). The shelves all dried completely, except one very small portion. It was the last spot that I worked on, so I figured it was that I failed to stir it at the very end.

Two weeks later, the small spot was still tacky, but everything else dry. The high gloss sheen was bugging me, so I pulled out a can of Cabots oil based poly that I had on hand that I knew was satin. Stirred well, applied second coat of poly.

Now almost the entire project is still tacky 48 hours later. I’ve been running the heater and trying to keep the door open as much as possible. I plan on borrowing a dehumidifier tonight to see if that helps, but I’m pretty sure my fix is probably going to be more labor-intensive than that.

What would you do, other than make fun of me for being an idiot ;-)?

10 replies so far

View Dan Krager's profile

Dan Krager

3961 posts in 2200 days

#1 posted 01-30-2013 11:04 PM

It looks to me like you don’t have a lot of choice but to strip it and start over. Scrape off what you can of the sticky mess and use a paint stripper to get back to the wood. Being fresh and soft it should come off quickly and easily. Apply the appropriate neutralizer for the stripper, and when dry, start over with a plan for using a consistent system to ensure compatibility. Water or oil base machs nicht, but stick with one or the other. Use fresh products, too, and diligently follow the print that’s too small to read.

-- Dan Krager, Olney IL One should always prefer the probable impossible to the improbable possible.

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 2453 days

#2 posted 01-30-2013 11:22 PM

Since we don’t know your location or what ‘Cold’ ‘Moisture’ or what the conditions have been, it makes it difficult to give you any real help.

This is why we ask people to fill out their basic information in their profile.

Cold here in Texas is 30-50°F
Where my son live is -30 to -50°F

At -30°F there is no humidity, but at +30°F humidity can be upwards of 100%.

We really need more information before a definitive answer can be given.

Keeping the room warm until the finish is cured is a given. You need to read the directions on the label. I doubt that they allow curing below about 50 or 60°F

Another idea is to add a dehumidifier before you start any finishing job…. humidity and your finish are not friends.

Good luck.

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View Richard Miller's profile

Richard Miller

139 posts in 1936 days

#3 posted 01-30-2013 11:32 PM

as Dallas said we don’t no where you live; I know I have had problems if finishing a piece and don,t leave the heat and fan running for air movement it will not cure evenly.

-- Dick F,Burg Iowa

View RussellAP's profile


3103 posts in 2252 days

#4 posted 01-31-2013 12:31 AM

Paint the shelves and coat them with spar varnish.

-- A positive attitude will take you much further than positive thinking ever will.

View bondogaposis's profile


4683 posts in 2317 days

#5 posted 01-31-2013 01:50 AM

My guess all you need to do is heat the room. Get it up to 65° for 24 hours and see if your poly will cure.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View dogdoc's profile


2 posts in 1909 days

#6 posted 02-02-2013 05:08 PM

Thanks for all the input and sorry that I have not yet filled out my profile. I will do that!

I am in Kansas and the temps have been pretty crazy over the past few weeks. Some days have been 70 degrees, some nights have been 9 degrees. Overall, that room has stayed pretty cool, my guess would be 50s. Humidity-wise, that room seems to have more moisture than the rest of our house. I did start a dehumidifier in there a few days ago and have dumped at least 3 gallons out. Along with running a heater in there, I have seen drastic improvement in drying. I would say 90% of the shelves have dried, but still have some sticky edges and corners, mostly where there hasn’t been direct airflow from the heater/fan.

I’ve repositioned the heater to point at those problem areas and I’m hoping to get off very lucky, having learned my lesson!

Thanks so much for your input, I really appreciate you taking the time to help me out. Like I said, I’ve learned my lesson. I promise to read the small print next time.

View Dan Krager's profile

Dan Krager

3961 posts in 2200 days

#7 posted 02-02-2013 05:36 PM

Thanks for the feed back! I’m hoping, too, that you don’t have to go the stripper route! It is quite probable that the extended drying time has hurt the durability, but then…
You should buy a lottery ticket!

-- Dan Krager, Olney IL One should always prefer the probable impossible to the improbable possible.

View jak77's profile


18 posts in 1907 days

#8 posted 02-03-2013 03:32 AM

Humidity and water based finishes don’t mix. Even though it is water based there are coalescing solvents involved and cross-linking will not take place until the water and then the solvent is gone from the coating.

Humidity and no air movement. No cross-linking.

When you put the oil on top you forever sealed in the water. It will never dry. and the solvents that are left will keep the oil from drying as well.

Sorry but it will all have to be removed.

You need air movement and lots of time. Anything below 60 degrees will keep the finish from drying through. Just because the surface may seem dry. The bottom of the film will never give the performance it can.

Polyurethanes are worse. Below 65 the molecules just sit. And basically hibernate.

View jak77's profile


18 posts in 1907 days

#9 posted 02-03-2013 03:35 AM

Oh yeah… the reason the poly has a gloss. It laid there wet and the flattening agent sank into the film leaving the gloss resins on the surface.
Good luck

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 3124 days

#10 posted 02-03-2013 04:19 AM

Why did you poly over the latex? Latex house paint gets pounded with rain outdoors and we don’t cover it with a much less flexible clear coat like poly.

-- jay,

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