Causes and Solutions for Common Problems with Paint

Painting is a chore that most people avoid, but even though wallpaper and vinyl siding have greatly reduced the need for painting, there will always be walls and other surfaces that require painting to achieve a particular look or design. Everyone wants the efforts of their painting to result in a beautifully painted surface that’s smooth and free from flaws, but sometimes while painting problems arise, the causes of the problems aren’t always clear.

The following information provides details regarding common painting problems as well as solutions to correct common painting problems. When you realize the cause of problems while painting you can take the necessary steps in order to correct the problems before wasting your time and possibly hundreds of dollars in paint and materials.


It’s important to wear eye protection and gloves before scraping paint or using chemicals. Also, make sure you have adequate ventilation when utilizing painting products or chemicals that emit potentially harmful fumes.

Peeling Paint

If your freshly painted surface is peeling, chances are the surface wasn’t properly primed, or the surface was dirty. Never cover enamel or oil-based paint with latex acrylic paint. The paint will most definitely peel. A surface painted with enamel or oil-based paint must be primed, or the paint must be removed before painting with acrylic latex paint.

If your paint is peeling and the surface is not covered with oil-based or enamel paint, chances are the surface was covered with dirt, oil, or the surface may have been wet. It’s important to clean and dry a surface before applying paint. Slick surfaces require light sanding before painting.

Wrinkling Paint

If your painting job looks like the wrinkled skin of an elephant after drying, chances are the paint was applied too thickly. Wrinkles in paint occur because the surface of the paint dries before the base. When the bottom layer of paint dries, the paint becomes wrinkled.

To correct this painting problem, sand the wrinkled painted surface making it smooth, wipe the surface clean, and thoroughly dry the area. Continue painting using a thin even coat of paint.

Cracked Paint

If you’ve ever seen paint that’s cracked like a dry lake bed, the paint could have cracked for a couple of different reasons. If you applied a second coat of paint before the first coat completely dried, this could cause problems with cracking. The bottom layer of paint probably spread out while it was drying and therefore caused the cracked surface.

The paint might have to be stripped in order to correct this painting problem. You may be able to sand the surface and fill the cracks with spackling compound before repainting the surface. Experiment with a small inconspicuous area before working on the entire surface.

Flaking Paint on Concrete Walls

Paint problems on concrete walls sometimes occur if the concrete develops moisture problems. If the paint on your concrete walls is flaking, scrub the flaking paint with a wire brush, and clean the concrete walls with one part muriatic acid and two parts water. Rinse the concrete walls with clear water, and allow the walls to dry completely. Use fans if necessary. After the walls are completely dry, seal the concrete with masonry sealer. Follow product label instructions, and after the sealer is completely dry, paint the sealed walls according to label instructions.

Blistering or Bubbling Paint

Painting problems involving bubbling or blistering paint could be caused by direct sunlight on freshly painted surfaces. Bubbles and blisters form on painted surfaces when the paint dries before the solvents beneath are able to evaporate.

If direct sunlight couldn’t have been the cause of problems with blistering or bubbling paint, there may have been moisture beneath the fresh coat of paint. Make sure the surface is completely dry before continuing painting to avoid further painting problems.

To correct this painting problem, simply scrape off the bubbles and blisters, sand the painted surface, and repaint when the surface is completely dry and not subject to direct sunlight.

Chalking Paint

Chalking paint is one of the most common problems with old aluminum siding, but chalking can occur on any painted surface. Paint is actually designed to slough the surface so the surface stays clean, but sometimes the surface becomes excessively chalky.

If dry paint that looks similar to chalky powder comes off on your fingers, it will probably be necessary to wipe down the entire surface and seal it with primer before repainting. Simply wipe the surface with a non abrasive scrubber, and make sure the surface is completely dry before priming and repainting.

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