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Heartbreak 06-01-2010 10:52 PM

Tiny Bubbles in High-gloss Enamel Finish
Greetings all from Downunder Land, hope you are enjoying your start to summer,

I have spent a couple of days meticulously preparing a hardwood framed front entry area, new door and side glass louvre panels to be installed.

The timber has been sanded, filled, primed and undercoated, however today I applied the first coat of a high gloss enamel with a 1/4" nape roller.

I notice now that it has had time to dry that I some of the fine surface bubbles that the roller left behind have set on the surface, I intend to let this coat harden and finely sand the surface prior to the top coat application, can anyone suggest how I can avoid the fine bubbles in the top coat.

Other info.

paint, primer and application equip all high quality
temp 72'F
humidity 90%
wind about 5-10 knots

I do not believe this problem is a reaction between primer and gloss enamel


mark942 06-02-2010 08:43 AM

Are you back brushing after rolling out your semi? IF not, then try a smaller nap roller skin. I have a number of older 3/16 roller naps that I keep just for rolling out doors and such. The more beaten down the better. But most applications I tend to do, I usually back brush.

Also, if your using oil based enamel you might be thinning it down a bit to much.


Matthewt1970 06-02-2010 12:34 PM

Or not thinned enough.

Heartbreak 06-02-2010 05:10 PM

Thank-you Matthew and Mark, (this is sounding a little biblical),

I had been thinking about my problem overnight and had a feeling that thinning the enamel may be the answer, as I had not thinned the enamel at all. Had poured it straight from a new can.

Could you please explain this "back brushing" technique a little, as I obviously am not doing it!

Is there a rule of thumb for correct viscosity or is it more a "suck it and see" thing

thanks for your help


mark942 06-03-2010 02:18 PM

After you roll out your door. Take a brush and brush it all out. Your roller is more to get the paint on the door. The brush is what is used to detail out your material. If you have thinned your material right no streaks or ropes, sags will appear. After a bit you will get the jest of it.

After I thin out Enamel, I take my stir stick and dunk it in the paint, keeping the stick just above the material, I watch how the paint off the stick flows into the bucket I am mixing in. Make very certain you have done a very good job mixing in your Spirits/Penetrol. If it looks ropey or lays on the top of the material then I add a little more thinner until the paint off my stir stick flows right into the material I am mixing. I always start out with a little spirits or Penetrol ( )
then add more as needed. Try to not get the material to run like water into your bucket. Over thinned paint is just as hard to work with as under thinned. How much to mix all depends on how hot or cold it is, or how much humidity. Like I said, start off with a little, then add a little more, then a little more. After a few times during a job you will get with the program. Good Luck to you.................................:thumbsup:

Heartbreak 06-03-2010 04:47 PM

Very informative reply, thanks Mark.:thumbup:

Jim F 06-16-2010 08:21 PM

Just had this experience myself with an Olympic brand semi-gloss bought from Lowes. Only naming brands for convenience not to bash. I opened this can of tinted paint and did noticed tiny bubbles in the paint but did not think much about it. The edging went well with the pad applicator I was using for that. When It came time to roll, the bubbles got bigger, more abundent and more noticable on the wall. I stopped painting and called Lowes first who told me to bring it back. The also gave me the number to their Olympic representative who answered right away and also instructed me to return it to Lowes and to call him back if they would not refund me. I used a 3/8 nap roller where a 1/4 nap would have been adaquate. Now after reading these replies, I'm starting to wonder if it was my nap after all.

Has anyone else had this sort of experience and is it likely due to contamination?

Heartbreak 06-16-2010 10:38 PM

I took the advice offered and tip brushed the job, having thinned the paint, and it turned out very well in the end

mark942 06-17-2010 05:28 AM

Good to read heartbreak............... Got any pictures of your work done?

Jim, Olympic brand used to be one of the better stains, IMO. I have never used Olympic paint! Contamination is something that would happen in lets say a 2 or 3 stage epoxy. Try using a smaller nap roller skin in the future.


Jim F 06-17-2010 09:00 PM


Originally Posted by mark942 (Post 457462)
Good to read heartbreak............... Got any pictures of your work done?

Jim, Olympic brand used to be one of the better stains, IMO. I have never used Olympic paint! Contamination is something that would happen in lets say a 2 or 3 stage epoxy. Try using a smaller nap roller skin in the future.


I bought a 1/4" nap to try tomorrow. Too busy with other stuff today. Also the new can of paint I bought after returning the old can also has tiny bubbles in it so I'm thinking that's not the problem after all.

AllBunsGlazing 01-08-2012 07:27 PM

I just signed up on this forum to reply to this thread.

I too, was having a problem with small bubbles. I'm using Strokes High Gloss Black Enamel. It's being laid over two coats of taubman's water based undercoat, which is on sanded MDF. (I'm building an arcade cabinet, it's pretty awesome).

The last cabinet I built had this problem, and unfortunately I hadn't stumbled across this thread and the final finish had small pitts now and then from the bubbles.

I'm glad to say though, that this cabinet, after slightly thinning the paint (put about 1tbls turps into 1litre of paint) and back brushing the rolled on paint, the finish is immaculate.

Thanks very much for the advice, Matthew, Mark and all the rest. (My name is Samuel, so now we're getting SUPER biblical!)

To improve the thread, instead of a "thank you" post, I'll quickly explain how I "back brushed" the paint to get my good results.

Back Brushing
I had a new, crap brush which wasn't shedding bristles, I rolled on the paint with my roller as best I could and as evenly as I could. After the surface was painted, I took my paint brush and wet it with paint - not nearly as much paint as you would to apply a coat, just enough so it wasn't laying down paint, but it wasn't soaking up paint either. It's hard to explain, but I had success with that. I then took the brush, and very methodically and evenly, in one direction did a single brush stroke. That just flattened out all the bubbles and made the paint lay right down - really pretty. :thumbup:

Thanks again,
allbunsglazing <a.t> gmail

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