3M Patch Plus Primer

Written by on November 4, 2015 in Interior Products, Prep, Uncategorized with 4 Comments

The Product Streamlining Quest Continues!

Over the past few years, we’ve been on a mission to simplify product inventory in our paint contracting division, with a particular emphasis on eliminating lines (of any type of product) that aren’t versatile enough.

When you start eliminating products, it is a slippery slope:

This one is only good for that, which we never see anymore. That one is good, but…this one spreads well but dries slow. That one dries fast but doesn’t sand well. Too soft, too hard, too fast, too slow. Only good on interior, not much good in the summer.”

You have likely experienced these same limitations, as they pop up in most categories of paint products. We have been through it with primers, paints, tapes, caulks, abrasives, and now fillers. While there are some product types that have to be specialists, designed for a particular type of task, there are many product categories where generalists are not only possible, but should be expected.


3M Patch Plus Primer

We want one filler for general interior and exterior use.

Fillers have been one of the more difficult categories to find a good all around generalist in. Fillers are used during the prep stage of painting, and there is much more to them than simply having something to pack into dings and holes.

For those still doing quality work, the prep stage is where the craft of cosmetics comes into play – all those little artistic touches we put into our work that help our paint jobs end with customers who make happy referrals. And fillers are huge in prep. 

Here are some qualities we seek in a “do it all” filler:

  • Easy to spread, skim and pack into holes
  • Minimal shrinkage
  • Fast dry
  • Hard finish
  • Sandable
  • Interior and Exterior Usage
  • Effective on existing and new surfaces

3M Patch Plus Primer

3M Patch Plus Primer

Efficient cosmetic work is key.

In our opinion, the “plus primer” is really a non-issue. We pretty much ignore that claim in most products of any type, particularly fluid products. That said, 3M Patch Plus Primer is the first filler to really come along promoting primer onboard. While at the chemical level, it probably has some primer resin in it, I don’t need to expect that. If it’s there, we’ll call that a bonus.

When we discovered and implemented this product, we were able to quickly eliminate a couple of boxes full of other filler types we had been stock piling. Fillers are one of those product types that if you don’t have ONE filler that you use most of the time, you will probably end up with a dozen or more fillers that you use sometimes.

This creates the problem of too many on the shelf, with limited shelf life. Yes, I am sure you have opened tubs that sat for too long. Seeing purple mold in a white filler is just not a pleasant experience.

What To Expect From This Filler

First off, for some reason, the short, square tubs that 3M Patch Plus Primer comes in are easier to keep clean during usage than the taller traditional round filler tubs. Not sure why this is, or maybe we are just becoming more diligent about not cleaning the putty knife off on the rim of the tub. But anyways, the packaging gets a thumbs up for being easier to work out of with a putty knife. The seal of the lid maintains its integrity after many uses, which is nice – that keeps product fresh. Nothing worse than expiring on the shelf when not in use. 

How products age in their own container is a consideration. Many prep products – caulks and fillers, in particular – are like corn chowder in the sense that they are not at their best on first usage. They should get better as left overs, not worse. By that, I mean (and this is true of 3M Patch Plus Primer) that many caulks and fillers are too moist when first opened and become better the further you go into the batch over time.

We sometimes wonder if manufacturers ramp up the moisture content in filler compounds to make them easier to use, more accessible to the masses. The downside in every case in my experience is that when a prep product is too moist out of the tube or tub, there is much greater risk of shrinkage after it is spread and dried. It doesn’t matter if a product is easy to spread, if I have to spread it twice instead of once.

All this to say, 3M Patch Plus Primer is formulated (in our opinion) to be prudently moist on first opening, and then it mellows to just the right consistency by day two.  You just read about how the lid seals really well, so you may be wondering how it can change overnight. As with partial cans of paint, it is the volume of air inside the sealed container that replaces the product you have used, changing the dynamic of what is left in the vessel.

Anyways, 3M Patch Plus Primer mellows to just the right workable consistency, where we have seen others (in round vessels) completely dry and chunk out overnight when half full. Very important quality in a filling compound.

Sandability: Spreads like a Lightweight, Dries like a Heavyweight

3m_patchThis characteristic is of critical importance to me. If we are going to use one filler for everything from skimming dings in interior drywall to filling holes in exterior trim, it has to fit with our sanding and abrasives program. As with most aspects of our prep program, we have streamlined the sanding program to one line of abrasives, and our rule is that if a filler doesn’t work with Granat abrasives, we can’t use that filler.

By “not work with”, we mean the filler has to be both hand sandable and power sandable without loading up the abrasives. This is actually a tall order when you factor in the requirement that we want the filler to be fast drying. So, when 3M rolled Patch Plus out and promoted it as paintable in 30 minutes, that we had to see. We did see, and it is that fast. Like, BIN fast.

The key to its sandability is that it dries hard. We power sand most everything that we sand, so the most efficient skimming and filling is fast and heavy, then power sanded to a smooth blend. Many fillers can’t hang in that realm because they are too soft. If you apply too heavy, or sand prematurely, they would powder off in chunks and load the abrasives. 3M has hit it just right with this mix.

When power sanding fillers, you can (and should) sand at a higher grit than if you were hand or block sanding. Manual sanding of fillers often happens at 80 or 100 grit. Power sanding this filler is a walk in the park at 150-180 pretty much across the board for interior and exterior. The gain of being able to sand a hard one pass filler at a high grit after 30 minutes is pretty obvious in the quality of the results and the efficient profitability of getting there.

For those who have used the old Ready Patch filler, 3M Patch Plus Primer feels like a more sophisticated or polished version of that: a filling and skimming compound with some grit but easy to work with. Most importantly, it can fit a well-designed prep program and not slow you down.

We don’t use the word “systems” much anymore when discussing prep and finish processes, because it has been so watered down and over used in recent years, but a product like 3M Patch Plus Primer is a healthy reminder that product does drive process. So, product selection in each aspect of prep is important. Even the smallest, least expensive sundries and consumables can have a profound “better or worse” impact when installed into your process. If you have been streamlining and eliminating product lines like we have, this is one filler to check out.

{Editor’s Note: This article by Scott Burt originally appeared in the September 2015 issue of American Painting Contractor magazine and is shared here with the publisher’s permission.}



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  1. Mike McBride says:

    I have used 3M Patch Plus Primer and it works GREAT; however, I live in a desert climate and things dry out VERY quickly here in the heat and of course the garage gets very hot in the summer. I have two questions about this product:
    1.) can it be rejuvenated by adding water and mixing if it has dried out to the point that it is very powdery and wont adhere easily?
    2.) can it be stored in a refrigerator to increase the shelf life.
    I would have asked these questions of 3M, but could not find Customer Support contact information on their website for this product.

    Mike M.

  2. Jonathan Bailey says:

    Have you had any experience using this filler without primer – painting directly on top of the patch? And was this successful? I have a bunch of screw holes I need to patch, sand and then top coat. It would save a lot of time if the primer was included in the patch!

  3. Tim says:

    Hey Scott, MH Ready Patch has always been my go to filler both indoor and outdoor, but I don’t use it on PVC. How does the 3M product do on PVC?

    • Scott Burt says:

      Hi Tim, we have used it a bunch on nail hole filling and general cosmetics with pvc, and it works really well. You have to apply fairly clean and wipe excess around the hole while applying, in order to minimize the need for aggressive sanding when it dries. It dries hard, and if you had to sand it heavily, it would be possible to create flashes in the pvc, which is probably why you don’t use the MH there. I’d recommend it as suitable on pvc if used correctly. Thanks for your question.

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