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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey everyone,

I'm painting my basement stairway and I'm running into some bubbling/blistering issues. First, I lightly sanded the walls, then washed them with water. The next day after the walls were completely dry, I primed the walls with this:

https://db.tt/snsq00uI

After I used the primer, there was no bubbling whatsoever, so I thought everything was fine. I then tried putting on the first coat of good paint (Benjamin Moore Regal Select) and then in certain areas, the bubbling appeared after about 10 minutes or so.

The next day, I resanded the whole wall, washed with water, and then primed with Zinsser 123. And now the primer is starting to bubble, as seen here: https://db.tt/E9pRoKzW

I bought the bungalow last year and painted my whole main floor using the same method (Zinnsser + BM Regal) without any issues.

When I bought the house, the whole main floor (drywall) and basement (wood panelling) was painted the same hideous sandy-brown colour. I believe they used Benjamin Moore contractor paint (Ultra Spec 500).

My whole basement is wood panelling and that's the only other factor that I can think of that's different. There was no dirt, and there are no moisture issues.

It's weird because on a couple of the vertical panels, there is not a single bubble; it seems to be concentrated near the middle of the wall. I'm scared to keep painting the rest of my basement only to find it all bubbles up afterwards, and then I waste a whole bunch of time and money.

Any suggestions on what could be causing it, or how I can fix the problem??? I read that cleaning with TSP may not solve the problem... is this true? I have no idea what to do.

Any help would be greatly appreciated!!!
 

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The problem is that primer. It is not a bonding primer like the 123 is, so when you put the 123 over top of the wrong primer, it will still bubble. If your lucky they will go away. If not you are going to have to sand off that wrong primer and then prime with the 123 which IS a bonding primer.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
The problem is that primer. It is not a bonding primer like the 123 is, so when you put the 123 over top of the wrong primer, it will still bubble. If your lucky they will go away. If not you are going to have to sand off that wrong primer and then prime with the 123 which IS a bonding primer.
But if the primer was the problem, wouldn't the bubbling be everywhere? It seems to only bubble in certain areas...
 

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It's also a possibility that there is some sort of contaminant on the walls. Murphy's oil soap, TSP cleaner, hairspray (not likely), dust from sanding, any kind of cleaner that leaves a residue, etc. It's possible the former owner cleaned the paneling with something that paint doesn't stick to. Just throwing that out there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
The problem is that primer. It is not a bonding primer like the 123 is, so when you put the 123 over top of the wrong primer, it will still bubble. If your lucky they will go away. If not you are going to have to sand off that wrong primer and then prime with the 123 which IS a bonding primer.
Well, you're definitely right. The original primer is causing the problem.

Last night, I tried to fix the issue, but I think I made more of a problem. I sanded the wall that bubbled, washed it with TSP, and then rinsed it off really well. I was going to leave it for a full 24 hours to dry before trying to use 123 over top of it, but then I noticed that it started to bubble after washing the wall with TSP!!!

I tried to experiment a little and I think I made more of a mess. I used 123 over top of the original primer on the other walls to see if it would bubble everywhere, or if my bubbling was contained to just one, problem wall. Certain spots bubbled, but not a lot. Most of the areas were nice and smooth.

This morning, I noticed that most of the bubbling on the problem wall that I washed with TSP went down. On the other walls that I painted with 123 over the original primer, the small areas that bubbled remained.

I really don't feel like sanding all of this paint off and starting completely fresh. I do plan to sand down the few areas where the bubbles remain. What I'm thinking of doing is buying Zinsser Cover-Stain Oil Based Primer/Sealer. Do you think that if I just apply this everywhere (on top of the problem wall, on top of the other walls I used 123 over the original primer, etc.) that it will act as a fresh base coat and solve my bubbling issue?

I was hoping to use the Zinsser brand because there's a 25% off sale at my local store and I wanted to get this job over and done with because it's driving me nuts.

Again, any advice you could give would be really appreciated.
 

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Kingtosh, that is as good of an option as you have right now. The oil-based primer in this case has a better chance of adhering plus you eliminate water from the equation in the water-based primer. You may then only have a few bubbles to fix. Those can be sanded down, spot primed with the oil, then you can fill the holes with some spackle. Deep breaths, well, not too deep since you will be using the odorous oil-based primer!
 
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