Rub-Through Applications with Waterborne Finishes

Rub-through methods are a little tricky with latex paint because of its rubbery consistency. Here are some other suggestions. November 8, 2007

I need to spray a base color on a piece, then spray a black over it and do a rub through on selected areas. I did a quick sample on a piece of maple and the rub through went fine. I used a sample jar of paint from a local paint store (satin finish latex). I noticed some orange peel, and am after suggestions on materials to use. I am set up for waterborne only.

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor P:
It's hard to get latex to lie out smoothly. And probably pretty hard to do a good rub-through, because it's kind of rubbery. ML Campbell Polystar is a better choice. If your base color is a stain (versus another paint color), you can save yourself a lot of material and work by applying it after you sand through the paint.

From contributor J:
Haven't tried the rub through thing yet, but can definitely give a thumb's up for Polystar. Many of my clients want Ben Moore colors matched, and it's very easy with the Polystar and my local supplier.

From contributor T:
Benjamin Moore acrylic kitchen and bath latex is what I have been using. It seems to be more sandable and harder.

From contributor A:
If you have a Sherwin Williams in your neck of the woods, they may have ProClassic Acrylic in black, or will mix it for you.

From contributor H:
You can also order pigmented Target Coatings finishes. They custom tint and colour match opaques and stains.

From contributor P:
If you want to use an off-the-shelf product, Benjamin Moore Satin Impervo is a better choice than latex, in my opinion. It lies out better and is more sandable. It sprays okay if you thin it with a small amount of water and some Floetrol.

From contributor W:
How long does the Polystar sealer take to dry before you can sand it? I have been looking for a pigmented sealer that I can use with the new Agualente and that is what MLC recommends. I spoke to their tech service and they said the pigmented version of the Agualente is in testing and due out soon. Until then I am looking for a solution.

From contributor P:
The Polystar sanding sealer dries pretty fast - sandable in 20 minutes on a nice, dry day like today (at least here in NJ). Did MLC say they can tint the sanding sealer? Or would you use regular Polystar tinted to your color with Agualente as a topcoat?

From contributor W:
They said you could tint either the sealer or the topcoat. My plan was to try the Polystar sealer tinted full strength with the Agualente as the topcoat. I have done other systems like that before but the topcoat has to be water white.

From contributor J:
I recommend using the Polystar for the pigmented colors. I'm shooting BM's Rolling Hills green right now and for some reason they had to tint the Ultrastar for it. I completely messed up my first set of panels as I was used to shooting the Polystar, which goes on much thicker. Not thinking about the green being a different finish, I rinsed the white Polystar primer out of the gun, loaded it up with green, and started spraying - ugly, ugly, ugly!

I ended up having to sand the panels out and very lightly mist on a few coats to build it up. With the Polystar I just spray it on thick and scuff sand flat before the topcoat.

The stuff dries pretty quick. If I'm shooting a kitchen's worth of doors, I can spray continuously - as soon as the last door is done, the first door has long been dry. Give it a shot - I think you'll be pretty happy with it.

From contributor W:
Do you use the Polystar topcoat or the primer for your base? Do you use the Agualente for the topcoat? They had to use the Ultrastar for the green color because they can't tint a deep base color in a white base. Any deep tint color including black can be mixed in a clear base.

From contributor J:
Yeah, that's what happened with my color match also. I always spray Polystar primer. You can lay it on thick and it will still dry quickly. With the Ultrastar you have to spray much thinner (at least with my spray gun) and keep lying on coats.

I haven't tried the Aqualente yet. I just heard about it recently and don't know much about it yet. I was going to pick up a can to try once I've finished up my stock of Ultrastar. But I didn't realize they were tinting those yet. I'll have to look into it.