Micro bubbles - what am I doing wrong?

18 Oct 2021
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United Kingdom
Hello everyone. I'm new here. I hope I can get some help and advice from some of you please!?

I recently made some drawers and cupboards out of plywood, and I honestly thought that I had done my research but I have run into some issues with the painting aspect. The surface is covered in tiny micro bubbles - these appeared almost immediately after laying on the paint.

For reference, I primed my units with Bullseye 123 (but actually did that around 2 months ago, and then life got busy), lightly sanded any imperfections yesterday, wiped down and then started to paint. The paint I am using is Benjamin Moore Advance Matte. I applied the paint with an Ice Fusion microfibre roller, and then went over with a Fossa Viper trim brush.

I stirred the paint beforehand. Should I have let it settled? It was also in the shed for a couple of days. Too cold? As the paint was mixed up only a few days ago by BM I needed to stir it, but wonder if this could be the issue? I also noticed that there were slightly less bubbles if I layed the paint on a little thicker (but I know you have to be careful with this paint as it takes ages to cure). Images are attached.

I should say, that I have zero experience with any of this - it's my first project so am a bit clueless! As I say, I did tonnes of research on which paint and tools to use, so am a bit dismayed at the results. My house also wasn't warm when I was doing this, and I had airflow with windows open etc.

Please could I get some advice from some experienced folk who know what would cause this? Paint is expensive so don't want to just lash the second coat on and hope for the best in case it happens again!

Thank you so much.
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Are those definitely bubbles, or are they where the paint has "shied away" from whatever is underneath and doesn't want to stick?
As above, they look like "fisheyes". They can be caused by a number of things, eg silicone- seems unlikely in this case. The are fairly common when applying waterbased finishes over an oil based primer/undercoat but you seem to have used a waterbased primer (the OB paint repels the WB paint as the solvents evaporate).

For many years, my bread and butter was painting MDF cabinets. I tried to steer clear of water based finishes but sometimes the customer insisted on the finish coat being WB. In those cases, I used to use OB primer and leave it for 2 days. I would then apply the first coat of WB eggshell and twiddle my thumbs as I waited to the fisheyes to appear. If you time it correctly, you can run the brush over the paint once the water has started to evaporate off. Once the paint become thicker, it is less likely to push itself apart and pool.

Rolling can create bubbles but you have been running a brush over the surface, so I do not think it is related to your application. It may be the case that the finish coat doesn't like the dust left over after sanding the zinsser primer.

The only other thing that I can think of is that the plywood is releasing solvents. Not something I have come across though.

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