Paints & Coatings Resource Center

Ask the Expert Question-and-Answer Archive

by Ron Joseph

October, 2008

Color Bleeding through Paint

Q: I am a door supplier. I have a builder that has brought it to my companies attention that we have doors and mouldings that are turning "yellow" or have bleed through after the paint has been applied. The painter is to apply a primer to our pre-primed product and 2 coats of semi-gloss as per the builders scope of work.I have reason to believe the painter is not following proper proceedure. How can I tell? I have samples of painted doors with this bleed through. I has been discused that moisture may be a factor. The builder is in Florida. However I have not had any other problems with the same product and other builders.Another reason to believe the painter may not be proforming to scope is the fact the builder uses 2 door companies and we order from seperate suppliers and the products come from 2 foriegn countries. They are also having the same problem only with this builder and painter. Is there a test that can be preformed on the sample to determine if proceedure has been followed?

A: Without seeing the doors and moldings I can't give you a definitive answer. If I were to trouble shoot this problem, I would analyze the primer to determine if it contains a stain blocker. That might be easier said than done, because I would not immediately be able to tell, even if I performed an analysis. Of-course if I had a wet sample of the primer, or better still if I had a wet sample AND knew who manufactured the primer, this task would be quite simple.

Suppose the primer is formulated with a stain blocker, then perhaps the yellowing you are experiencing is not due to bleed through from the wood. It is possible that the top coat is not resistant to yellowing. It is possible that the painter used a substandard top coat. Again, it would be easier to trouble shoot this problem if I could analyze the top coat, and better still if I knew the name of the manufacturer and the trade name of the top coat.

Other questions might need to be answered, such as what is the wood? Are the doors and moldings made from the same wood specie? Was the wood kiln dried before you fabricated it into doors and moldings? Is the shop primer compatible with the site-applied primer? What were the time intervals between shipping the doors/moldings to site, installation of the doors/moldings and application of the site-applied primer? Were the doors/moldings stored indoors or outdoors before installation? Is the problem bleed through of the resins in the wood, or yellowing of the top coat? Were the doors/moldings painted on all six sides? What is the dry film thickness of all paint coatings; shop primer, site-applied primer and top coats? These are most of the questions that will help to solve the mystery.

You mentioned moisture content of the wood. Generally, if wood is painted while it is too moist (>12-15%) the predominant problem is blistering and peeling. Yellowing or stain bleed through might be due to moisture, but is more likely to be due to the type of primer/top coats used.

If you are unable to trouble shoot the problem yourself, I will be happy to assist you, but we will need to go through some paperwork before I could work on this project. I work on wood coating problems on a regular basis and have the equipment necessary to perform the analyses.

Please get back to me either way and if you are interested in pursuing this with me, please also send me your phone number.


Ron Joseph

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