What's wrong with this paint?

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Old 02-04-12, 01:51 PM
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Question What's wrong with this paint?

Last weekend I painted a piece of wood with two coats of Zinsser Bull's Eye 1-2-3 Water-Base primer (White pigmented, styrenated acrylic waterbase primer-sealer stain blocker & bond coat.), following the label directions and allowing a little over an hour between coats. Now I'm getting ready to topcoat it, but the primer just doesn't seem to have cured.

The paint I used was from a three-year-old quart can that was opened three years ago, but only a very small amount was used. The can was carefully re-sealed and appeared almost full when I reopened it for use. The paint has been stored in my house since it was purchased, so it has never been exposed to cold temperatures.

I applied the paint down in my basement, which is the warmest part of the house, and the humidity is very low. The paint appeared to be a little thicker than I would expect for a primer, but since it didn't appear to have lost any volume, I resisted the urge to thin it. So now it still shows the brush marks, so I'm sanding it with 120 all-purpose paper, but the paint is rolling up as it comes off, and the whole surface feels slightly tacky.

Now I don't know what to do. It's supposed to have cured by now, so I don't know if it is just taking longer or if it will ever cure no matter how long I wait. What can I expect to happen if I go ahead and paint it--assuming the paint I use for the topcoat is good? Will it wrinkle or peel, or will the primer dissolve into the topcoat and keep it from curing? Should I scrape it and do it over with a new can of paint? And since I only need a little, will the rest go bad before I can use it? Or do I need to start over with a new piece of wood? I'd need to redo the edges on my router and sand it, but it's going to take some work to clean the paint off the one I already made anyway.

I'm not used to the idea of paint going bad. When I was a kid, paint used to last forever as long as you got the lid back on securely. I'm sure the chemistry now is totally different, but if it won't last three years, I don't see how they've improved it. Is this what paint has come to, or is there just something weird about this particular can?
 
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Old 02-04-12, 02:18 PM
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What did the paint look like when you opened the can? Did it stir up well? Need to be strained?

Was the wood unpainted and clean? Usually when primer doesn't dry correctly it is because of a containment on the substrate.

If the paint didn't freeze [or subjected to extreme heat] stirred up well and didn't smell funky - it should be ok to use no matter how old it is. I've used up old scrap paint mixed together on rentals [and my house] and never had any issues. I've only used primer once that wouldn't dry where it was a manufacturer's problem.
 
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Old 02-04-12, 03:22 PM
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It didn't look lumpy or anything. The only thing that seemed unusual was that the drops that appeared to be hanging from the lid were partially semi-solid. I usually try to get most of the paint off the lid with my brush when I open a can of paint so it doesn't get all over the edge of the lid and keep it from sealing or glue it shut, but while it looked like there was a lot of paint there, only the surface was actually liquid.

I shook the can before I opened it, so when I went to stir it there wasn't really anything left to stir up. It all seemed pretty homogeneous, if a little thicker than I expected. It didn't smell unusual to me, though I'm not sure what this paint usually smells like.

I'm not sure what's considered extreme heat. Like I said, it's been in my house, so it hasn't been exposed to anything more extreme than I have. We don't have air conditioning, but the temperature rarely gets above 100 around here.

Of course, I don't know what it might have gone through before I bought it. I bought it early in the spring, so it could have been left in a truck or warehouse in freezing weather. On the other hand, it doesn't actually say anything on the label about keeping it from freezing. I'm used to seeing that on paints, so I just handled it as I would any other paint, but as I was scouring the label for an expiration date or something about shelf life, I noticed it didn't have the usual "keep from freezing" warning on it.

I don't suppose that manufacturer's problem you mentioned would have involved this manufacturer.
 
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Old 02-04-12, 03:44 PM
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Hmmm...

I went and got the TDS from the manufacturer's web site to see if it said anything about freezing. It does.

Freeze/Thaw Stable: Yes
But then, right below that it says:

Shelf Life: 60 mo @ 75F (24C)
Storage/Handling: Store indoors 40-90F
So it does have a shelf life, but it should be good for a couple more years, unless deviations from 75F shorten it significantly, but then it says 40-90F is okay?

I have to say, if I'd known it had a five-year shelf life I never would have bought it. I thought I was buying a good brand of primer.
 
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Old 02-05-12, 04:33 AM
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Zinnser is one of the better brands of primer! Paint and primer can last longer than 5 yrs but the manufacture has to draw the line somewhere. From how you described the primer - it should still be good. Extreme heat would have left dried lumps in the can. That leaves the condition of the substrate the primer was applied too. Can you describe the condition of the wood before you primed it? any prep done prior to priming?

btw - when latex paint/primer freezes, it becomes thick like joint compound.
 
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Old 02-05-12, 01:08 PM
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Maybe the "extreme heat" could explain the stuff hanging from the lid, though I don't think 100 degrees is extreme. I look forward to days like that! I guess I've never frozen a can of paint, so I didn't know what it did to it, but I have let a few tubes of silicone caulk freeze, and that does exactly what happened to this can of paint: it looks okay, but it never cures.

The condition of the wood was that it was a piece of 3/4" pine shelving, cut to 4" x 18", aged for about 5 or 6 years, edged on a router, sanded down to get rid of the surface darkening, then finish sanded with garnet paper. I'm pretty fanatical about surface prep. I hate rework. Life's just too short.

It's worth mentioning that this is not the only can of paint stored under the same conditions for the same amount of time or longer, and it's the first I've ever seen paint fail to cure like this. I spent last night scraping it off and re-sanding the wood, and I just repainted it with some Valspar interior/exterior enamel. We'll see how that goes.

I used to think Zinsser primers were the best thing going, but this might end up being the last can I ever buy. It makes me sick to have to throw out a whole quart that was barely used, not to mention the time and work I just wasted. I have a gallon can of Kilz I got at the same time, and I'm not looking forward to opening it up.

Thanks for your help!
 
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Old 02-05-12, 04:02 PM
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I hate to blame the paint but it sounds like you did everything right. From time to time I've used old paint [4yrs or older] and have never had any issues although I do have enough experience with paint that I would know when to discard old paint that is no longer fit to be used..... but your description of the primer sounds like it should have been ok to use

I understand your lack of desire to do something twice. Probably the biggest thing I've disliked about taking over a job someone else started is fixing what the other "painter" messed up. Hope the rest of the project goes well for you!
 
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