I’m using Zinnser cover stain primer and didn’t thin out before using my Wagner HVLP spray for the first time (they said no need to thin). It came out orange peel like and I think I sprayed too much for the first coat.

First coat:

enter image description here

I tried sanding it down but it took forever with 220 grit so I tired 120 and it took a while to get it somewhat smooth but even that didn’t make it completely smooth:

After light sanding:

enter image description here


  1. Do I need to get it completely smooth before moving to painting? Or is what I have in the photo enough?

  2. The paint chipped a little when I sanded it. Is this bad? I can always go over it with primer again but is the rest of it at risk of more chipping cause it’s too thick?

These were some test run cabinets so I wanted to get the technique down before I did my full kitchen. Any advice to help save time and have a better finish is appreciated!

  • Try doing one or light coats instead of one heavy coat.
    – Solar Mike
    Dec 5, 2020 at 10:57
  • I will add that I thin all water based paints and primers with blue windshield wiper fluid. I use 1-2 oz per quart. I picked up this tip years ago from a painters forum and it has always done well; better than water with no blue tint when dry.
    – Evil Elf
    Dec 5, 2020 at 14:00
  • No paint job is better than it's foundation. 90% of the effort in painting is prep work.
    – Ecnerwal
    Dec 5, 2020 at 15:02

2 Answers 2


The smoother it is before each coat, the better the coat will look. I run my fingers over the surface while sanding to find and remove imperfections that aren’t visible.

If 120 grit is slow, go with 80 grit, then 120, then 240 and finish with 320 or even 400. For between coats you should only need a very light sand with 400.

(Instead of buying 400 grit, you can keep your used 320 grit since they get smoother before becoming useless).

Painting requires patience and practice. All paint behaves slightly different and the air temperature/humidity will also affect it.


You've got small globs there which means the primer went on too thick. Try a coat thinning it a bit. Wagner always say no thinning is necessary but I've thinned almost every thing I've ever sprayed. Always start the spray away from the work and then draw it across the work, past the work to stop or continue back over for the next pass. You want light coats and move the sprayer fairly fast over the work. Very light sanding is all you should need between coats if you do it properly. Practice a bit more and you should be OK.

  • Thanks! So when you said to try a coat, is that another coat on top of what I have currently? Is that with leaving current coat as-is or to sand more? Dec 6, 2020 at 0:40
  • Try it from scratch on another test cabinet or sand the existing test until it's smooth... Paint rarely hides imperfections in the surface.
    – JACK
    Dec 6, 2020 at 1:07
  • You were right it’s on way to thick. I kept getting gobs of primer on my sand paper even though it had been a few days already – it just wasn’t drying. I actually was so frustrated at the thought of waiting even longer to dry that I scraped most of the primer off because it was on way too thick. Plan is to resand down until smooth again and try a thinner layer of primer rolled on. Does that sound reasonable? Dec 6, 2020 at 8:18

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