This week we take a look at what kills production when painting bare poplar wood. Bare poplar is without question one of the more difficult new construction and renovation type woods to achieve fine finishes on because poplar can absorb much of what you put on it. There are three things to help minimize labor hours and maximize efficiency while producing outstanding results. Lets take a look at finishing poplar while we apply over 60 gallons of oil-base primer to poplar and finish to a beautiful solid sheen, grainless finish.
Coming to terms with the fact poplar takes time to finish is the number one thing to understand. Finishing poplar properly is not like painting MDF or bare pine wood so we cant treat it the same. Using the wrong water-base primer will cost you in labor hours sanding.
Very few primers work effectively over poplar to provide a full sheen in the finish, leaving you with a dull grainy look. Our preferred method for finishing poplar is applying two coats of an oil-base primer and 2 coats of a 100% acrylic finish. Our studies show applying one heavy solid stock coat of primer is less effective and no more efficient due to excessive sanding to the point burn-out which exposes bare wood, requiring more priming, more labor, more sanding.
We apply a reduced coat of Zinsser CoverStain oil-base primer mixed 16oz thinner to one gallon of primer regardless of spray or brush application. This primer coat penetrates deeper and dries quicker vs one heavy unreduced coat. Regardless, our preference is to apply a 2nd reduced coat of primer mixed 8oz to a gallon the next day. See Spray vs. Brush
Depending on the grade of poplar, you may want to sand lightly before applying the 2nd coat of primer. Look at it this way… breaking down sanding between two steps vs one heavy lengthy sanding doesn’t necessarily mean more labor, you simply break it down between two days. An orbital sander with 220 quickly knocks down raised grain on flat surfaces fast vs hand sanding. Try different types of sand paper. Some sandpaper is less effective, others cut through raised grain fast and effectively. Some are night and day different. We use different sandpaper for oil-base primer and water-base primer.
If you use the 3M Pro-Pads from Sherwin Williams – don’t bother with 150 grit. Go with the black 60 grit. Trust me on this, the 80 might feel a bit rough when new but sanding just a few short pieces of Zinsser CoverStain oil-base on poplar will wear that grittiness off fast and leave you with a nice grit to sand the primer. I’ve found the 220 grit black 5” Gator brand orbital sanding disks perform better than Norton brand. The Norton brand is a bit aggressive for 220.
- Zinsser Primecoat2 water-base primer is a good primer for bare poplar and sands easily.
- Zinsser ODORLESS oil works great on poplar too and sands to a powder. Excellent coverage.
- insl-x STIX Waterborne Bonding Primer
It may be beneficial to work with the general contractor to apply your primer coats prior to trim installation when possible. Some latex primers do not sand easily. Poplar needs a primer you can sand easy to remove raised grain. Gripper is a bad primer for applying direct to poplar but a great product otherwise. In the past we applied one coat of Zinsser CoverStain oil-base and one coat of Gripper for build. The only concern would be to make sure the wood is smooth prior to applying Gripper.