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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Common Painting Problems and Solutions

The following are a few of the common household painting problems with possible causes and solutions for each. It is important that you or your painting company takes the proper steps and uses the proper products to ensure a long lasting, quality, paint job.


Blistering is a term used to describe small to medium raised bubbles that are found under a painted or laminated surface. It is most common on wood siding and trim.


- Painting under direct sunlight on a hot surface will trap the solvent vapor as the paint dries too quickly.

- Applying solvent-based paint to damp or wet surfaces causing trapped moisture to expand the paint film.

- With lower quality latex paint or an inadequate surface preparation, any dew, rain or very high humidity after latex paint has dried can result in blistering.

- House moisture escaping through the walls due to improper house ventilation

- Moisture trickling into your home through the exterior walls. This can be prevented with water-based paint.

If blisters don’t go down to the substrate:
- Scrape blistered paint and sand down to bare wood.
- Let wood dry completely.
- Sand, prime and re-paint under adequate conditions.
- Use quality acrylic water-based interior paint
- Use high quality latex paint.
- Check and repair any loose or missing caulking around windows and doors.
- Consider providing siding ventilation.

If blisters do go down to the substrate:
- Remove the source of moisture, if possible.
- Repair loose sealants; consider installing vents or exhaust fans.
- Remove blisters as above, remembering to prime before applying the top coat.


Alligatoring is a failure in the paint film where its patterned cracking resembles the scales of an alligator. These cracks generally do not expose the substrate

Checking is a similar failure but not as severe. They tend to be long, fairly evenly spaced cracks in the paint film having shallow relief or depth. Occasionally checking may become severe in some areas and a deeper crack or split in the paint will occur.
- Natural aging of oil-based paints due to temperature fluctuations. The constant expansion and contraction results in a loss of paint film elasticity.
- Application of an extremely hard, rigid coating, like an oil enamel, over a softer, more flexible coating.
- Application of a top coat before the primer or base coat is fully dry.
- Application of coating over a glossy finish.

- Remove the old paint via scraping, sanding, chemical removers, or a heat gun and repaint with a flexible latex based paint.
- Wash with the appropriate concentrated cleaner; rinse thoroughly and allow time to dry.
(recommended: ProClean Professional® Prep Wash Concentrated Cleaner)
- Use high quality latex paint
- If the problem exists on a glossy surface, sand down to a dull


Peeling due to moisture is recognizable by large peeling sections of paint exposing bare wood underneath.


Peeling results when a wet substrate swells, causing the paint film to loosen, crack, and fall off. Ways that the substrate can get wet are as follows:
- Worn-out or no caulking in joints, corners, and openings, allowing moisture to enter.

- Ice-filled or clogged gutters, causing moisture build-up under the shingles.

- Interior moisture migrating through to the exterior walls.

- Painted surfaces that are too close to bare ground.

- Leaking roofs.

- Painting a surface that is damp with rain, condensation, or dew.


- Remove loose or cracked caulking and repair with a quality product.
- Clean and repair gutters so they properly channel water away from the house.
- Install vents, louvers, fans, and dehumidifiers to reduce moisture, especially in the kitchen, bathroom, and laundry area.
- If wood siding is touching the ground, remove that portion of the wood. Siding should be installed not less than 6" above the ground.
- Repair the roof as needed.
- Test the coating in a 6" to 12" radius around any peeled areas to be sure the adhesion is adequate.
- Follow label and data page directions for proper surface preparation and environmental conditions.


Moisture originating from behind the paint film or in front and forcing its way through the paint film can create this type of paint failure.


- Excessive moisture in a home due to cooking, showering, or the use of a humidifier, vaporizer, or hot tub.
- Excessive moisture in a home due to a high level of humidity in the basement and/or foundation.

- Ventilate high moisture areas such as bathrooms by providing an exhaust vent fan that removes humidity and discharges to the outside.
- Ensure proper ventilation of the roof and walls and sockets.
- Repair missing or damaged flashing at chimney or other wall / roof connections.
- Scrape away old peeling paint and feather sand affected areas.
- Spot prime bare area.
- Paint with high quality acrylic latex paint


Peeling is when the paint separates from the inner layer of paint or the substrate.


- Moisture seeps through uncaulked joints or worn caulk

- Leaks in the roof or walls, or an excess of moisture seeping through the interior of the walls

- Painting over any wet, dirty, or glossy surface

- Painting over a layer that already has marginal adhesion


- Remove old, loose, cracked caulk; prime as needed; and re caulk with the appropriate product.
- Find and repair any source of water leaks.
- Follow the appropriate instructions for proper preparation and coating
- Test the coating in a 6" to 12" radius around any peeled areas to be sure its adhesion is adequate.


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*Information has been gathered from the Sherwin-Williams website