Project Description

My Paint is Peeling, Cracking and Bubbling!

Uh oh.  you recently put on that fresh coat of new paint and now it’s peeling. Help!

Potential culprits

Moisture: Is the problem area in a humid, moist room such as a kitchen or bathroom?

High levels of moisture from humidity, cooking, showering among other things can cause paint to crack. Moisture gets behind the paint and pushes it away from the surface.

Dilution of paint: Did you dilute the paint with water or mineral spirits?

Diluting a paint with too much water or mineral spirits past its “recommended thinning rate” can cause the paint to become brittle as there is not enough of it on the surface.

Lack of priming: Did you paint over bare wood, metal, or another non-painted surface?

Primer serves a special and important purpose in painting. It acts as a binding agent between the substrate, surface being painted, and the paint. If you pay close attention you will notice it has a very matte appearance and slight tackiness to it. Word to the wise… don’t leave primed surfaces exposed for too long. Dirt and other small debris will stick to the primer. i.e. good luck getting it off.

Painting water-based paint over oil-based paint: Oil and water don’t mix.

This is often one of the biggest culprits that causes peeling and cracking. Oil-paint and latex paint do not mix. Even though one is dry, the latex paint cannot penetrate the oil paint and adhere.  Oil and latex paint can look the same, so how would you know? Unfortunately, unless you tested before painting, you probably wouldn’t.  we will tell you how to test below. 

Overextension of paint: Did you try to use a quart of paint to paint a room?

There is such a thing called overspreading. You will get cracking if you try to cover extensive amounts of space with too little paint. Paints actually have a “recommended spreading rate”

Oil-based paints: Is the paint on your wall oil-based?

Because oil-based paints, never fully cure. They continue to oxidize over time, which means as they age they are still susceptible to temperature fluctuations. These fluctuations degrades the paint’s elasticity, i.e you pull the rubber band too many times, it’s probably going to snap.

Painting on top of glossy paint or glossy surface: did you paint directly on top of glossy paint without prepping the surface?

Glossy paint is a slippery thing when it comes to painting directly on top of it. It can react similar to the way oil and water don’t mix. To get the two to bind, dull down the glossy finish or surface by sanding. Then prime the surface followed by the paint of your choice. The primer acts as the bonding agent between the two.

Blistering: Is your paint in direct hot sunlight or moisture?

Just like people, paint can blister from too much direct sunlight. Other causes include applying paint in a dam, high moisture environment. 

How to fix it

You will either have to patch repair the area or start completely fresh. Either way, you will have to scrap off the damaged area. Before doing this – confirm if the area on which you are working consists of lead paint. Want to learn more about lead tests? Click here.

How to make sure it doesn’t happen again..

  1. If there is an inkling of a thought that the existing paint might be oil paint, TEST it. Saturate a q-tip in rubbing alcohol. If the paint comes off, then it means it is latex, if it doesn’t…well you have oil-based paint.
  2. Paint during the ideal temperatures and humidity recommended by professionals:  70 to 77 degrees F and relative humidity is around 50%. We know this always can’t be possible say if you are living in an unconditioned house in the desert, but do the best you can!

ottom Line.  Don’t cut corners when it comes to painting. Do proper prep work. Remember, anything can be fixed! So don’t worry.