Paint Blisters and Foam Roller Dances

You know that old saying “When it rains, it pours?”  Well, let me share with you what happened recently during a 17-day stretch of rain. Yes, this fall it rained 17 days straight here in North Carolina!

I had a customer, Stephanie,  who wanted me to paint her dining tabletop. She wanted it black and lightly distressed, which would look great with the darker stained base. I don’t paint many pieces black, but painting is painting, so I’m thinking easy peasy, right? Even though it was raining on and off, the temps were warm, in fact, one day it was raining and in the 80s, which is crazy for fall, and besides I had to get this table done.

So, I cleaned then lightly sanded the top then proceeded to apply 3 coats of oil-based paint. I let it dry several days then lightly distressed the edges.  Because I knew the table would get a lot of use, I finished it with four coats of polyurethane, sanding lightly between coats.

It looked great! I loved it! The customer loved it! We were all happy.

 Then, a week later, she sent me some pictures:

IMG_3488[1] IMG_3489[1]

I’m not going to lie; I was sick. In all my years of painting, I’ve never, ever seen this before.

I did what anyone would do: I googled it, and called my girlfriend. I may have gulped down a glass of wine too! Paint blisters. Yup, that was it. There were several explanations given. For example, they could be the result of a quick rise in temperature. Nope. They could also be caused from layering an oil based paint over latex. Nope. They could also be caused by MOISTURE. What? Noooooo!!! The dreaded “m” word. And to seal the deal, proof positive that it was moisture is that the paint blistered through all the coats of poly and paint, down to the wood.


Nice, huh? I’m still sick to my stomach looking at it.

But whatcha gonna do?

This. This is what you’re gonna do. You’re gonna go get that top, pop the blisters (gross, huh!), sand them down, prime them, then paint them. Bam. Done. Happy Thanksgiving.

Nope. Wishful thinking.

You’re gonna get that top home and realize there’s no popping blisters or sanding. There’s only stripping.


For some reason, I can’t rotate this pic, but you get the idea.


And I’m not going to lie and say it was fun, but somehow it made me feel better to be able to start with a fresh, clean, and beautiful surface.

 When it was time to paint, everything I had used prior felt jinxed, so I went and bought new paint. And call me crazy, but I decided to try the new chalk paint at Lowe’s, which turned out to be pretty funny (and something I’ll try again!). The first can they mixed for me was black chalkboard paint, which I thought was ironic because they had specially mixed it for me! I’m still curious as to what the heck they did to it! But, round two, and after explaining exactly what I was looking for, they mixed a beautiful black chalk paint for me.

And all three coats went on nicely (I did thin the paint with water on the last two coats).


And then I did four coats of Polycrylic.


And, I discovered a beautiful-bright-shining-morning-hallelujah way to put it on! Are you ready? Instead of painting it on like I normally do, I tried a foam roller.

foam roller

I’m singing right now. Can you hear me? Listen, this is the poly-ing equivalent to finding the Holy Grail. Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating. But why have I never thought of this before??? And if you knew about it, why have you never told me???

Ready? I poured some polycrylic into a tin pie plate, dipped one side of the roller, then while holding the foam part down with one hand (I tried banging the roller first to get it to not roll, but had to resort to holding it), I dragged the roller back and forth . No. Seriously. I will never paint this stuff on again. Ever.

I’m just glad no one was there to witness the crazy foam-roller-goddess dance I did around the table. Because I did one.

And then it was done. And I hauled the top back to Stephanie’s house, and she was super-understanding and nice about the whole situation (thanks again for that as well as the pics, Stephanie).


And I was reminded that sometimes despite our best intentions, things happen and we have to fix our mistakes, but sometimes too, in the midst of it all, we get to do a crazy-foam-roller-goddess dance. And really, who doesn’t want to do that? I mean, not all the time, but trust me, on occasion it’s just the thing.


One thought on “Paint Blisters and Foam Roller Dances

  1. Changing Tide/Kathy Kiddy

    OUCH!!! You did a wonderful job repairing it (:
    I just found out (the hard way) that no brand of chalk paint will adhere to a piece of furniture that has been waxed with paste (bowling alley) wax 🙁 Live and learn!
    Merry Christmas to you and your followers?


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