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Why Does Paint Bubble, Peel, and Crack?



why does paint crack
why does paint crack

Paint is one of the best transformative tools any homeowner has. It can change the entire look, and even feel, of a room or home. And it doesn’t even cost as much as a new sofa set.

However, with great transformation comes the potential for great frustration. If things don’t go completely right; if the elements aren’t lined up perfectly (and they often aren’t), paint can bubble, peel, or crack. In fact, about one in 10 paint jobs experience big problems.

Read on to find out why this happens so you can prevent it.

Why Does Paint Bubble?

When the paint film lifts from its underlying surface, the film has lost its adhesion. Bubbles are the unfortunate result. These bubbles can then eventually lead to peeling. You can fix the peeling, but you need to deal with the reason for the bubbles, which could be:

  • You painted a dirty, hot (above 90 degrees), cold (below 50 degrees), or damp surface
  • You painted oil-based paint over latex paint
  • You didn’t prepare the surface before painting
  • The paint was exposed to moisture soon after it dried
  • You painted on a humid day

Bubbles can even be caused by painting too fast (or too energetically!), so slow down and do the job carefully.

What You Can Do to Prevent Bubbles: 

Clean and thoroughly dry your surface before painting. Use a primer-sealer (and let it completely dry) before adding your paint. And don’t paint in unfavorable conditions (too hot, too cold, or too humid).

Why Does Paint Peel?

When paint can’t hold on to the underlying layer, it will peel. For example, painting glossy, hard, slick surfaces normally ends in peeled paint. Slick surfaces don’t have the tiny peaks and valleys that a coating needs to hold on to.

Painting a surface in a humid environment will cause peeling paint as well. You also can’t work with chemical incompatibility, like oil-based paints on galvanized metal.

What You Can Do to Prevent Peeling:

Sanding the surface beforehand will toughen up your wall, and the paint will do a better job of sticking. Test an area to make sure the paint is sticking.

Why Does Paint Crack?

If you see a crack in your paint, you can bet it’s going to grow. Often, the problem starts out as a hairline crack, and if left unchecked, the paint begins to flake off. As with bubbling, there are many reasons paint could be cracking, including:

  • Low-quality paint was used
  • You painted oil-based paint over latex paint
  • The paint was spread too thin
  • The paint dried too fast
  • You applied additional coats before the previous coats had dried completely
  • The surface wasn’t prepared
  • The paint is old
  • The surface was dirty when painting
  • The paint was applied too thick

What You Can Do If Paint Cracks:

If you know that the cracking hasn’t gone all the way to the substrate, take a scraper or wire brush and remove the flaking paint. Next, sand the area, prime bare spots, and repaint.

If the paint has cracked down to the substrate, you’ll need to remove all the paint. Scrape it off completely, or use a heat gun to get rid of it all. Then, sand the surface, prime it, and repaint.

With many variables and potential headaches, it’s often best to use a professional company to do your prepping and painting for you. New Life Painting works to provide every customer with the best painting experience they’ve had. Call us at (805) 937-9836, or request a free estimate online.

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