PPG Break-Through Paint Review

If you use a paint that needs no primer before it is applied, you can save a lot of time. There is one such paint that you can use. You will learn all about this paint in this PPG Break-Through review.

PPG Break-Through is a very durable waterborne acrylic enamel with excellent flow and leveling properties. This paint also dries fast and has remarkable early block resistance. You can use it for interior and exterior applications, as well as on vertical and horizontal surfaces. The best thing about this paint is that for most applications, it needs no primer. 

This paint can provide a degree of hardness equivalent to or even better than standard alkyds with low VOC formulas. But even with this kind of hardness, this paint still maintains its flexibility in enduring extreme deformations and bends without peeling or cracking.

Read on to learn more about PPG Break-Through paint, its formulation, and its uses.

PPG Break-Through Review

ppg breakthrough

The PPG Break-Through paint is an ultra-tough waterborne acrylic enamel that exhibits excellent flow and leveling. This paint also dries very fast and has an exceptional early block resistance. You can apply this paint to exterior and interior surfaces and vertical and horizontal surfaces.

There is an improved version of this paint. The enhanced formula provides two benefits to painters and DIY homeowners. First, it does not require any primer in most applications. Second, it dries very fast.

When fully cured, the PPG Break-Through obtains a degree of hardness that’s just like or even better than standard alkyds of low VOC formulas. But while it is hard, this paint still maintains its flexibility. So, it can endure excessive deformation and bends without peeling or cracking.

This paint is very tough when fully cured. Its surface will be like hard skin, similar to the hardness of fully cured oil or alkyd paints. If the painted surface is stained with oils or foods, you can easily wipe them off with mild detergent mixed with water. [1]

Description of PPG Break-Through Paint

The PPG Break-Through is a versatile and extra-tough waterborne acrylic paint. It is designed to stick to substrates that are the most difficult for paints to bond. So, you can apply this paint to the following:

  • Plastics,
  • Ceramic tile,
  • Fiberglass, and
  • Laminates.

If it can bond with these difficult materials, it can also bond with regular materials, such as wood and metals.

When applied to interior and interior surfaces, this paint dries fast, offering a remarkable early block resistance. So there will be less downtime and increased productivity. The hardness of the fully cured paint is similar to or even better than standard alkyds. Specifically, you can apply this brand to the following:

  • Concrete and wood floors,
  • Shelving,
  • Doors,
  • Cabinets,
  • Windows,
  • Trim,
  • Fixtures, and
  • Handrails.

PPG Break-Through Formula

Not many people know that there are two formulas of the PPG Break-Through. Some people distinguish the two from each other by calling them the ‘old’ formula and the ‘new’ formula.

The new formula was designed by Pittsburgh Paints and Stains, the company that makes PPG Break-Through meet new EPA guidelines that were stricter than before. The EPA required paint companies to lower the VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) levels of their paints.

VOCs can pollute the environment and are dangerous to our health. That is why the EPA wants to lower them down. The VOC rating is measured in grams per liter.

Old vs New Formula

Break-Through’s old formula is rated at 250, while the new formula is considerably low at 50 only. So, this is a marked difference. Is there any effect on the efficacy of the paint with regards to its original strong qualities? We will see that later in this Pittsburgh paint review.

Some believe that the higher VOC paint is no longer available where this paint is usually sold. If you want to buy this paint, you have to ask for this old formula by name. Their suggestion is if you can’t find the old version, you can still ensure hardness and protection for the paint by adding a clear topcoat on the new formula.

Recommended Application of PPG Break-Through

The PPG Break-Through paint is recommended for use in the following substrates or materials:

  • Architectural Plastics
  • Interior Wood
  • Vinyl
  • Aluminum
  • Laminate
  • Gypsum Wallboard-Drywall
  • Galvanized Steel
  • Fiberglass
  • Ceramic Tile
  • Concrete
  • Ferrous Metal
  • Concrete Masonry Blocks
  • Plaster
  • Flooring

Benefits of PPG Break-Through Paint

ppg breakthrough paint

Most of the PPG Break-Through paint sold in the market today is the 50 VOC type. It has a low odor that satisfies the stringent regulatory standards of the EPA. This paint also meets the requirements for LEED certification.

There are some benefits that this new formula offers to its users:

1. Fast Drying

The PPG Break-Through paint dries within 15 to 20 minutes. That is fast!

As a result, the paint delivers early block resistance. When fully cured, the degree of its hardness is the same and may even be better than alkyds. And yet, it is still flexible, just like acrylic. It can bend but will not peel or crack.

Though this paint dries fast, it still offers some ‘open time’ where the paint is still wet enough for you to move your brush through it. This property will give you time to fix drips or brush marks should they occur.

2. Less Paint Chemical Odors

This new formula offers a friendlier odor. Unlike conventional paints, the odor that this paint emits is not as strong and aggressive. With less volatile organic compounds, this paint will be less harmful to your health.

3. Does Not Need Any Primer

If you are painting plastics, fiberglass laminates, and ceramic tiles, you don’t need to use a primer. You can apply it directly to the surfaces of these materials. By eliminating this step, you will increase your productivity and complete the painting work in less time. That means fewer labor costs and faster project completion.

4. Slightly Higher Viscosity

The PPG Break-Through has a slightly higher viscosity. This means it offers better handling. It also offers improved ‘sag’ resistance. This means if you use this paint, you will experience less difficulty in painting vertical surfaces. Wet paint is pulled downward by gravity while it is still wet.

5. Superb Flow and Leveling

With this paint, you won’t have any difficulty in achieving a level or even finish. You will get the same results whether you apply it by brush or by spray.

Working with PPG Break-Through

There are some things you need to know before you can properly use the PPG Break-Through paint:

It Is Not for Beginners

You have to have some basic knowledge and skill in painting walls, floors, and surfaces before you can use PPG Break-Through properly. Its manufacturer says that this paint dries fast. That’s true. It really dries in not more than 20 minutes.

That means the paint will start to tack almost immediately after you have applied it. In other words, you won’t be able to go back to straighten out lines and smoothen out rough areas that you made on your first pass.

One way to compensate for this fast drying time is to add a generous amount of latex extender to extend the ‘open time.’ Even then, you won’t have greater than 30 to 60 seconds to do your corrections. The fastness of this paint gives you the experience that you are painting on a hot and sunny day.

It Levels Out Smoothly

This paint’s capacity to level out and lay down smoothly is excellent. So, you won’t really have many problems in correcting and straightening out uneven coated surfaces since there will only be a few of them. There may never be one if you are really attentive and careful in your application.

You can apply this paint with a brush or a sponge roller, or a spray. The small bits of texture that may appear can be sanded down easily. You can match it in flawlessly with a second pass. If you use a spray, the result will be even more impressive. It will look just like it’s been painted in the factory.

The Coverage Is Greater

The PPG Break-Through paint can cover more surface areas than other types of paint. Another way of putting this is, if other paint brands need three coats, Break-Through can cover the surface in lesser coats.

Pros and Cons of PPG Break-Through Paint

ppg breakthrough paint reviews

You can determine whether the PPG Break-Through is the right paint for your project or not if you will consider its pros and cons:


  • Fast drying time – this paint gets dry to the touch in just 15 to 20 minutes. If you want to apply for another coat, you can do it in two hours. That means you can complete your project in a short time, compared to other paint types.
  • Easy cleanup – this is waterborne acrylic paint, so clean-up is easy. There is no need for extra-strong cleaners to remove accidental paint spots.
  • Strong and tough – this paint, when fully cured, is tough as nails. After painting, you can handle and move the painted surfaces without worrying that you will ruin the paint. After more than 20 minutes, the painted surfaces will no longer be tacky.
  • Smooth finish – this paint does not require any topcoat.


  • Coverage can be improved – the consistency of Break-Through is thinner than other paints. That is why other paints can give better coverage than this paint.
  • The finish can be improved – other paints give a better satin finish because Break-Through’s finish is more matte type.
  • Leveling can be improved – there are other paint brands with better leveling than this paint. But if you use a flocked foam roller, a smoother finish can be obtained with the Break-Through.

Before You Decide to Use PPG Break-Through

Before making a buying decision, you need to be informed about an update on PPG Break-Through. This paint has established a reputation for being a great product for many years. Many paint service companies have been using this paint and even recommending them to their clients.

Through the years, there have never been many complaints about this paint – until recently. The problems started when the EPA began to implement stricter regulations on paint companies to protect the environment. Pittsburgh, the manufacturer of PPG Break-Through, had to change its formula to satisfy the EPA’s requirements.

Soft and Sticky Paint After 6 Months

In 2017, multiple complaints were received by companies using the PPG Break-Through paint in their painting projects. Their clients complained that the paints on their cabinets were getting soft and sticky. Some clients complain after 6 months of project completion.

It was not easy to correct the problem because the paint was sticky in multiple areas. So they have to scrub off the paint, prime the areas and repaint them with another paint. The paint service company claimed that Pittsburgh was reluctant to help initially. But it still compensated the service company with the cost of materials and labor.

The service company did not know that the paint was the problem. So they initially repaired their projects on their own. But when they got hold of the real situation, they decided to switch to another paint brand.

Unfortunately, when a product is changed, the manufacturer tends not to reveal its effects, especially if not positive. This paint service company believes that Pittsburgh is not standing behind its product adequately.

In the mind of this paint service company, if you want to use PPG Break-Through, you have to use the old formula with a VOC rating of 250, not the new one, which is only 50 VOC. There should still be some of these paints in the paint stores in your area. Just specify the VOC rating of the product.

Conclusion: PPG Break-Through Review

PPG Break-Through is a waterborne acrylic enamel that has a superb flow and leveling. This paint also dries very fast and has incredible early block resistance. It is also long-lasting. You can apply it on interior and exterior surfaces, as well as on vertical and horizontal surfaces.

The most beneficial thing about this paint is that, in most cases, it doesn’t need any primer. However, if you want excellent paint results in your projects, you need to use the original Break-Through version.

For your quick reference, here are the benefits of using PPG Break-Through’s new formula:

  1. Fast Drying
  2. Less Paint Chemical Odors
  3. Does Not Need Any Primer
  4. Slightly Higher Viscosity
  5. Superb Flow and Leveling