Why is my new enamel paint not sticking?

Why is my new enamel paint not sticking?

Even the best water base enamels today may not stick … “Right Away”.  Because there is a big difference between the condition of drying and curing.

Water base enamels may dry within an hour however it may take thirty days to fully cure.

Let’s take an example:  Painting kitchen cabinets.  You may clean, sand and prime the cabinets and then apply the water-based enamel to the shelves and cupboard doors and in six to eight hours the paint may scratch off.

Here is what is going on!  First, in kitchens and bathrooms, there is very little air circulation.  What makes things worse is sometimes you have taped off windows and doors with plastic for their protection.  This adds to the poor air circulation.

Second, you may have just applied the water base enamel without doing any prep even as little as washing with TSP and rinsing.

Answers:  Water base enamel needs to be prepped efficiently enough to STICK.  That means cleaning the surface, sanding if necessary for an uneven substrate, and possibly priming with a GOOD undercoating paint, appropriate for water base enamel.  With all that accomplished, paint with your water base enamel and after the paint has dried, about one hour, use a circulating fan in the room to accelerate the curing time for proper adhesion.

If you must close the cupboard doors before twenty-four hours use a little ‘Vaseline’ on the door stops.  This will dissipate later without removing it.

PS:  Heating a room to accelerate the drying of water-based enamel doesn’t help and sometimes will create humidity that will slow the curing time.  Proper circulation with a fan will work the best.

Hope this will help you understand water base enamel.  Many times a company selling a good quality water based enamel will get a ‘Bad Rap” for poor paint performance when it is a poor understanding of the proper preparation techniques and curing times.  I sometimes fault the paint companies for not properly explaining this potential adhesion problem to their customers.

Please let me know if you have any paint questions or paint related questions.  Just use the ‘Contact Me’ page to send direct questions to be answered.


How long does it take for paint to dry and cure?

Water-based paint:  Dry time one to two hours and Cure time thirty days.

Oil base paint:  Dry time four to eight hours and Cure time twenty days.

Milk paint and Chalk paint (calcium carbonate):  Dry time thirty minutes and Cure time thirty days.

My website is:   www.RogerMerrill.com


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