Hot Topics: Why Can I See Through This Paint?

An old repair showing through new paint.

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Sometimes you do everything right, and you just can’t figure out why your project turned out wrong. Coat after coat of paint, and the repair in the drywall still shows through. Should you have primed first? Probably. But one eagle-eyed problem solver on the Forum makes the real issue clear.

Original Post: Showing Through Paint

Kirk Robinson Member

I am currently trying to paint a wall in my bathroom. I recently removed a towel bar and there was old paint and holes behind it. I patched everything up and now I'm trying to paint it white. The problem is that I have already put on two coats and the parts that I fixed still show through a lot. How many coats do I need? Did I buy the wrong paint? I am including two pictures that show the paint and the wall. I am terrible at painting so I figured I would ask here. If I just need to keep reapplying I will, but it seems like it will take many coats at this rate.

Hot Topics, Why Can I See Through This Paint

Highlights from the Thread

marksr Forum Topic Moderator

Did you prime the repair first?

Kirk Robinson Member

I didn't. I did use 3M patch plus primer to fill the holes. Do I need to still use some primer to cover up the old blue paint, etc?

mitch17 Group Moderator

All repairs should be primed before being painted for just this reason.

I just looked up that 3M stuff you used and it says you shouldn't need to prime. I think your results with it say otherwise.

marksr Forum Topic Moderator

I didn't look up the 3m specs but I've never seen a repair that didn't benefit from priming, especially when top coating with enamel.

Can't tell from the pics but I assume the repair has made everything level — you can't feel the repair, correct? If it's visual only, more paint will eventually cover it. Primer should reduce the number of coats. I have no working knowledge about that brand of paint.

Kirk Robinson Member

Makes sense. It is smooth. I filled up the holes then sanded and repeated until I got them right. I'm definitely going to pick up some primer though. It seems like it’s going to take way too many coats to get the right coverage. Can I just let this dry and then use the primer over top?

marksr Forum Topic Moderator

Yes, that shouldn't be a problem.

I just noticed something. The paint bucket says “accent base 3.”

That paint needs to be tinted before it's used! That's probably your biggest issue! A tint base must have tint added. No tint means the paint will be almost see through. I bet if you get a bucket of the correct base — it will say white on the bucket — no more than a certain amount of colorant can be added in the fine print — the new correct paint should cover ok.

Kirk Robinson Member

Well that could be an issue. I didn't realize that even for white it had to be tinted. I just assumed, incorrectly, that the base was white and they added color tint if you needed a color. I'm an idiot. I'm glad you saw that, thanks for your help. Without it I would probably still be painting a wall with clear paint, lol

marksr Forum Topic Moderator

I suspect that base is for dark colors. White paint can only be tinted so much. If you add too much colorant the paint won't dry correctly among other things. Tint bases are formulated to accept the extra colorant needed to make the darker colors and have very little coverage properties without the colorant. Most paints come in three bases; white (can be tinted to light pastels) a medium color base, and a deep tint base for dark colors.

If a salesperson handed you that bucket of paint the store is liable for selling you the wrong paint and should replace it for free. If you picked it off of the shelf - it's your fault.

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