7 Potential Painting Problems

For the solutions to these and many other problems: Call United Painting to schedule a Free Consultation and Estimate

paint_exterior_5Problem #1: ALLIGATORING

Description: Patterned cracking in the paint film resembling the scales of an alligator.

Possible Cause:

  • Application of an extremely hard, rigid coating, like an oil enamel, over a more flexible coating, like a latex primer or topcoat.
  • Application of a topcoat before the primer or basecoat is dry.
  • Natural aging of oil-based paints due to temperature fluctuation. The constant expansion and contraction results in a loss of paint film elasticity.


paint_exterior_6Problem #2: BLISTERING

Description: Bubbles resulting from loss of adhesion and lifting of the paint film from the underlying surface.

Possible Cause:

  • Painting a warm surface in direct sunlight.
  • Application of oil-based or alkyd paint over a damp or wet surface.
  • Excessive moisture escaping from the interior of the house through the exterior walls (less likely with latex paint than with oil-based paint).
  • Exposure of latex paint film to dew, high humidity or rain shortly after paint’s dried, especially if there was inadequate surface preparation.
  • Damp basements.
  • Painting over a surface damp with rain, dew or residual from power washing.


paint_exterior_7Problem #3: PEELING DUE TO MOISTURE

Description: Loss of adhesion of the paint film almost always down to the bare wood or stucco surface resulting in large paint chips/flakes.

Possible Cause:

  • Peeling results when wet substrate swells under paint, causing the paint film to loosen, crack and fall off. Among the variety of ways for water to reach painted wood are:
    1. Uncaulked joints allowing moisture to seep into adjoining surfaces
    2. Worn-out caulking
    3. Ice-filled or trash-choked gutters, causing moisture build-up under the shingles
    4. Moisture-laden air trapped inside buildings which rises to the surface of exterior walls when heated (especially near bathrooms and kitchens)
    5. Damp basements
    6. Painting surfaces which are too close to bare ground
    7. Vegetation giving off moisture too close to the wood
    8. Leaking roofs
    9. Painting over a surface damp with rain or dew
    10. Power washing is basically injecting water into the surface. It is particularly harsh on bare wood. One of the most common reasons for moisture in wood after power washing is allowing insufficient drying time. Let wood dry for 3-5 days.


paint_exterior_8Problem #4: FLAKING

Description: Flaking is the lifting of paint from the underlying surface in the form of flakes.

Possible Cause:

  • Flaking is generally preceded by cracking or checking and will occur over different surfaces. When it occurs over wood, it is usually found on those boards that have an excessive amount of “flat” hard grain pattern.
  • Excessive cracking can also occur due to poor surface preparation and/or applying too thin a coat of paint.



paint_exterior_9Problem #5: PEELING

Description: Loss of paint due to poor adhesion. Where there is a primer and topcoat, or multiple coats of paint, peeling may involve some or all coats.

Possible Cause:

  • Excess moisture escaping through the exterior walls (more likely if paint is oil-based).
  • Painting over a dirty surface (wax, mildew, grease, chalk).
  • Inadequate surface preparation.
  • Use of lower quality paint.
  • Applying an oil-based paint over a wet surface.
  • Earlier blistering of paint.



paint_exterior_10Problem #6: CHALKING

Description: Formation of fine powder on the surface of the paint film during the weathering, which can cause color fading. Although some degree of chalking is a normal and desirable way for paint to wear, excessive film erosion can result in heavy chalking.

Possible Cause:

  • Use of low-grade, highly pigmented paint.
  • Use of an oil based paint. (These tend to chalk more than latex formulation)
  • Aluminum siding can develop an excessively thick chalk layer and will require power washing to ensure complete removal.
  • Use of an interior paint for exterior application.



paint_exterior_11Problem #7: MILDEW

Description: Black, gray, green or brown areas on the surface of paint or caulk.

Possible Cause:

  • Continuously high humidity or dampness. As humidity increases, mildew growth becomes more rapid.
  • High average temperature.
  • Poor ventilation. Still air increases mildew growth.
  • Composition of surface. Mildew will grow on any surface that provides a nutrient, even dirt.
  • Mildew occurs more often on light colors of paint film. Colors that do not absorb the sun’s heat provide a surface for mildew growth. Dark colors become hot and discourage growth.
  • Cement based products are more prone to support algae growth.
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