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Paint is re-wetting plaster/filler and ruining smooth finish

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  1. #1
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    Default Paint is re-wetting plaster/filler and ruining smooth finish

    I have some uneven, previously painted surfaces which I'm trying to patch using a water-based filler. After carefully sanding down, feathering the filler out at the edges and achieving a smooth even surface that I'm happy with, I seal the surface with a 3 in 1 sealer, primer, undercoat. The problem I'm having is that the paint is obviously re-wetting the filler and basically dissolving it at the edges where it was feathered out. The end result is disappointing, with noticeable little bumps and ridges where, before painting, it was smooth.

    What can I do about this? Perhaps a different filler or paint? I figure if I use some kind of hard setting compound, it will resist water damage, but be near impossible to sand to a really smooth, flat surface (at least that's been my experience before).

    The products I'm currently using are Uni-Pro Multi-Purpose Filler (ready to use out of the container), and Taubmans 3 in 1.

  2. #2
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    Dear Kalsta,

    I'll bet you're using an acrylic 3 in 1... Go for a solvent-based Sealer, or 3 in 1, and Bob's your Dad's Brother. Taubman's do one, and so do Dulux I believe.

    Best Wishes,
    Batpig.

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    I'm no expert but, how long did you let the filler set to dry before you painted? Moondog was doing some plaster work on the weekend, and it took longer than normal to dry. I'm not aware that we have ever had any issues with our 3 in 1 affecting the finished joins.
    I am not responsible for anything that Moondog says!

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    dry plaster wont go back to being wet plaster. If you used top coat over a previously painted surface it can bubble.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Batpig View Post
    I'll bet you're using an acrylic 3 in 1... Go for a solvent-based Sealer, or 3 in 1, and Bob's your Dad's Brother. Taubman's do one, and so do Dulux I believe.
    Correct! It's funny… Some years ago when putting in some Gyprock, I remember the topcoat paint tin recommending an oil-based sealer over plaster, so that's what I used back then, just over my plaster joins (not the paper-backed Gyprock) before painting the whole wall with an acrylic wallboard sealer. But do professional painters really bother with an oil-based sealer just on the joins? I figured surely not—that one product should be good for sealing/undercoating the whole wall before the topcoats—so this time I just used some acrylic wallboard sealer that I had left over on both Gyprock and plaster joins and that seemed to work okay. But where I'm having the problem is where I'm going over a previously painted surface. and as I said, feathering the filler out at the edges. It's a very, very thin layer of filler over a painted surface, and it's just not holding up well.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cecile View Post
    I'm no expert but, how long did you let the filler set to dry before you painted?
    It was definitely dry. One area had been left for some days, but still suffered the same fate.

    Quote Originally Posted by stevoh741 View Post
    dry plaster wont go back to being wet plaster. If you used top coat over a previously painted surface it can bubble.
    I have to respectfully disagree having seen it with mine own eyes! I'm not saying that it goes back to being useable, but you can certainly eat into it with water. Regarding bubbles, yes, it's difficult to get it on smooth, but my technique must be okay as I've been able to get a very nice finish after sanding. That's why it's so frustrating to see my perfectly smooth surface get mucked up just by overlaying some paint!

    Thanks for the replies everyone. I think I might try the oil-based sealer tomorrow and see if that works better.

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    I should also ask, does anyone have a favourite general purpose filler that is easy to sand but reasonably durable and/or water resistant? Maybe the Uni-Pro filler that I've been using isn't the best? I have a bucket of the Gyprock top coat (whatever it's called). Maybe I should have tried using that? I'm assuming it's similar stuff.

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    I used the gyprock top coat after I replastered our lounge room, dining room & hallway and had no problems painting it with Dulux 1-step water based undercoat. It is also way cheaper than buying the little tubs from the painting section!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Batpig View Post
    Go for a solvent-based Sealer, or 3 in 1, and Bob's your Dad's Brother. Taubman's do one, and so do Dulux I believe.
    You're the man Batpig. I went with the British Paints oil-based product as it was significantly cheaper than the Dulux one (no sign of a Taubmans oil-based sealer in Bunnings). The paint was as runny as heck (unlike the acrylic 3 in 1, which is very thick) and I think I was half anticipating the filler just to wash away as I applied this stuff, but no… It went on beautifully, with no sign of the filler dissolving at all. It's nice and smooth… a finish Rolf Harris himself would be proud of. I know what I'll be using next time!

    Quote Originally Posted by amiaow View Post
    I used the gyprock top coat after I replastered our lounge room, dining room & hallway and had no problems painting it with Dulux 1-step water based undercoat. It is also way cheaper than buying the little tubs from the painting section!
    It's academic now, but the first thing I did this morning was to put down a sample of each product (the Uni-Pro filler, and the Gyprock topping compound). Once dry, the plan was to run some water over both and compare the results. I'll probably do it tomorrow anyway for curiosity sake.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Batpig's Avatar
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    That's great Kalsta! It's handy stuff alright. Now that you mention it, it was actually British Paints I was thinking of who do it (ie. an oil-based 3 in 1), rather than Taubmans. I always get those two brands mixed up... The only thing is - be careful how hard you hammer down the lid on the British Paints can, because it's a fairly easy can to "compress", if you know what I mean (sort of like standing on top of an aluminium Coke can...). The other thing is - the printing on the side seems to smear off fairly easily too, when it gets some of that solvent-based paint on it (like they're printing on the metal with a big Bubble-Jet or something...)

    Best Wishes,
    Batpig.

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    i had the same problem on the wall in the john, i reckon it's the filler... pretty sure i used uni pro fine filler, & dulux 3 in 1. i ended up just re doing it & trying to be quicker & more gentle with the brush... still not 100% happy with it though

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    Dont get too excited with British Paints. I recently used british paints "one" (coat) ceiling paint. After 5, "yes 5" coats I could still see the shadow line of the plaster joints. I think they forgot to put "can of bulls**t" under the "one" on the lable.

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    Quote Originally Posted by benno83 View Post
    i had the same problem on the wall in the john, i reckon it's the filler... pretty sure i used uni pro fine filler, & dulux 3 in 1. i ended up just re doing it & trying to be quicker & more gentle with the brush... still not 100% happy with it though
    Well I'll be sure to report back on what I find with the Uni-Pro–Gyprock comparison. But seriously, try an oil-based sealer-undercoat! Worked an absolute treat for me over the Uni-Pro filler. I was using a roller with the acrylic 3 in 1 product, and still had issues, so don't blame it on your brushwork. With the oil-based one, I used a brush and it looks great. Because it's so runny and slow-drying, you can paint with horizontal brush strokes and then let them melt into each other. (Just be on the watch for any runs and drips. I didn't get runs, but I did get some drips on lower surfaces from paint falling out of the brush—easy to wipe off if you spot them.)

    Quote Originally Posted by stevoh741 View Post
    Dont get too excited with British Paints. I recently used british paints "one" (coat) ceiling paint. After 5, "yes 5" coats I could still see the shadow line of the plaster joints. I think they forgot to put "can of bulls**t" under the "one" on the lable.
    I think it may actually be my first time using British Paints. I usually use either Taubmans or Dulux—whichever one has the closest colours to what I want. At the moment the big kid in me is wanting to buy Taubmans because they're giving away a free tin of M&M with every 2 cans. But Dulux has that huge Master Palette book (the one where all the colours are labelled with numbers, not names) and being a fussy bugger, I usually find myself there when I can't find the exact colour I want amongst the shelf swatches.

    Funny you should mention 'one coat' ceiling paint though. Some years ago when that was possibly a fairly new concept, I bought the Dulux 'one coat' ceiling paint, because I hate painting ceilings. And sure enough, I wasn't happy with it after one coat and ended up having to buy another tin of the stuff (not cheap!!) and do a second coat. So since then, I've always just bought the cheapest Taubmans ceiling paint and been very happy with it. Although one thing hasn't changed—I still hate painting ceilings!

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    Okay, the results are in from the face-off between the two water-based fillers/plasters. In the red corner, weighing in at 1.5 kg we have the Uni-Pro Multi-Purpose Filler (interior)! And in the blue corner, weighing in at 20 kg, we have the Gyprock Jointmaster Topping Coat!



    At first I thought we were heading for a draw. I ran a stream of water over both products, and neither showed any signs of washing away. Then I ran my fingernail down each product, and I was able to gouge through each equally easily. But here's the difference… I then gently rubbed the surface with the tip of my finger. In the Uni-Pro filler, my finger easily slid around all over the place, slushing up the surface. With the Gyprock topping coat, the surface was soft, but not slushy. Big difference! The Gyprock plaster felt a bit like the surface of artists clay as it's starting to dry, whereas the Uni-Pro was like clay that was too wet—and both had the same amount of water applied to them.



    So there you have it. Although it did have the advantage of drying faster than the Gyprock, I won't be using a Uni-Pro filler again. Interestingly, if you look closely you can even see that the Uni-Pro label has been stuck over a previous label, and that the old label used to say 'indoor outdoor'. They used to market this stuff as being suitable for outdoors!! Incredible.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails uni-pro-vs-gyprock2.jpg   uni-pro-vs-gyprock1.jpg  

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    In 20 years of painting I have never had this problem (Or heard of this problem) using Gyprock topcoat.
    Your obvious problem is your filler (An expensive way of purchasing topcoat).
    Its should not be necessary to use an enamel sealer to seal plaster repairs, Acrylic undercoat sealer etc is more than sufficient for this application..
    So to finish up throw your expensive sized Unipro in the rubbish problem solved.

    And to cap off on your test method throwing water on plaster will most certainly damage it..
    (Paint is not water)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Strom View Post
    In 20 years of painting I have never had this problem (Or heard of this problem) using Gyprock topcoat.
    Your obvious problem is your filler (An expensive way of purchasing topcoat).
    Its should not be necessary to use an enamel sealer to seal plaster repairs, Acrylic undercoat sealer etc is more than sufficient for this application..
    Thanks for your professional input Strom. I appreciate it. You've answered some of my remaining questions, namely whether these kinds of fillers are more or less the same thing as the topcoat. So would the Gyprock topcoat function just as well as a filler for nail-holes in timber, etc, even though that's not its advertised purpose?

    You've also answered my question about whether professional painters bother with an oil-based sealer on just the plaster. I had assumed the answer was no. Having said that, following Batpig's advice and using the oil-based product also fixed the problem, so I'm very glad I tried it. You can say the problem is the filler, and I wouldn't argue with you, but changing the paint worked just as well, so really it's a combination of factors: a filler that is highly susceptible to water damage, and a water-based paint. I'll probably just stick with the acrylic sealer/undercoat next time I have to join Gyprock sheets, but if I have to do another job like this one, where I'm trying to hide minor imperfections on a pre-painted surface, I'll be doing both: using a better filler (such as the Gyprock topcoat perhaps) AND using the oil-based sealer/undercoat. I'm just so pleased with the finish after using the oil-based product.

    So to finish up throw your expensive sized Unipro in the rubbish problem solved.
    I went one better… I took it back to Bunnings, along with a bundle of cheap masking tape ('Painter's Pal' or something like that) that failed on me, and got my money back. It's a minor hassle to take stuff back, but I figure it's the only way shops like Bunnings get any real feedback on which products are rubbish. The lady at the refunds desk knew all about the tape, as other people have been bringing it back too. We can only hope the message filters up to product purchasers at some point, and your weekend renovators stop getting ripped off by these awful products.

    And to cap off on your test method throwing water on plaster will most certainly damage it..
    (Paint is not water)
    I appreciate that, but presumably it's the water content in the paint that is damaging the water-based filler, so using water was a way of exaggerating the results. I think the test showed pretty conclusively that the Gyprock topping compound was far more resistant to this kind of damage than the Uni-Pro filler, and that is exactly what I wanted to know.

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    if your looking to fill nail holes and small damage I use spacfiller rapid. Sandable and paintable in 30min and minimum shrinkage. also water wont hurt it. been using it for yrs

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    Quote Originally Posted by stevoh741 View Post
    if your looking to fill nail holes and small damage I use spacfiller rapid. Sandable and paintable in 30min and minimum shrinkage. also water wont hurt it. been using it for yrs
    Thanks for the recommendation Stevoh. I've often passed over Selleys products because of the extra price, but of course I'd rather pay a bit more and get something that actually works!

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    I decided to just buy a couple more fillers and put them to the same test—for about $20 I figured I might as well see whether the other products are any more water resistant. And you guys get the results for free…

    I bought some Selleys Spakfilla Heavy Duty (which says it's suitable for 'interior and exterior applications requiring substantial filling'), and Parfix Multipurpose Filler, which says it's also for 'interior and exterior use' and 'easily sanded'. It's also cheaper than the Selleys products.

    Well, I'm amazed. After a similar amount of water to the previous samples, my fingernail barely scratched the surface of either. So I ended up giving them a really good soaking—something you'd never expect a filler to have to ever withstand, certainly not without a few coats of paint. I was able to muck up the surface a bit, but both were far better than the previous samples, which, as it happens, were on the other side of the same block of wood, and even the bit of water that accidentally got on the back completely muddied up the Uni-Pro filler again. Surprisingly, I'd have to say the Parfix was even slightly more water resistant than the Selleys product (although both were great), so for the money, not bad at all! It also sands pretty well, as claimed.

    I hope that information saves someone somewhere the pain of experiencing the dissolving Uni-Pro filler trick for themselves.

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    Hi..
    I have used Parafix and find it to be suitable for its application..
    My favorite filler for nail holes you simply cant beat good old glazing putty (linseed oil putty) as you can achieve a flush finish without it requiring sanding (Added Bounes its Cheap)..
    And does not cause rusting of the nail beneath..
    For larger screw holes etc I favor Timbermate wood putty.
    & to answer your question NO Gyprock Topcoat is not a suitable filler for this application..

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    Thanks again Strom. Ah, Timbermate... Yes I've used that one before and forgot about it. Don't remember seeing it at Bunnings recently, but maybe just not looking hard enough. Never tried linseed oil putty, but I'll keep that in mind for future.

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