What Causes Paint To Bubble, Crack and Peel?

What causes paint to bubble, crack and peel?

What Causes Paint To Bubble, Crack and Peel?

There are many reasons why paint bubbling, paint cracking, or paint peeling can occur on surfaces around your home. Some are due to negligence while painting, while others are completely incidental. As many of you may be wondering why this occurs, read on to get your answer.

1. Paint Bubble and Blistering

Large paint bubble

This paint bubbling is very unsightly.

Have you discovered paint bubbling on yours walls? The points below could be reasons why:

  • Painting over a damp, hot, or dirty surface will create an uneven appearance of blistering or bubbling. Always sand and prime the surface you want to paint on thoroughly to avoid this.
  • Applying oil-based paint over latex paint also results in this effect. Test the old painted surface with some rubbing alcohol and a cotton ball. If the cotton ball has paint on it, it’s latex paint. Match the same type of paint or prime over the old paint first and you will avoid blistering or bubbling this way as well.
  • Moisture can cause these unsightly effects, so check for water damage. If you want to be extra cautious you should hire a professional, as continued water damage can affect more than just your paint job.
  • Termites. Believe it or not, paint bubbling can be a sign of these harmful insects. Have your home properly inspected by a pest control company for any signs of termites when blistering and bubbling paint is accompanied by a hollow sound when knocking on the surface.

2. Cracking Paint

paint bubble repair

Paint cracking can occur on any floor, including the basement.

If you have cracks after painting, the following may be useful to find out why:

  • Failure to prime the walls prior to painting can cause the paint to crack. Priming helps to remove any moisture because paint needs to be applied on a dry surface.
  • Low quality paint. A low grade paint is obviously priced that way for a reason, and sometimes buying cheaply results in a low quality finished product. Don’t cheap out on the paint, you would be surprised at how many affordable and good quality brands there are available.
  • Mixed paint. If you mix an oil based paint with a latex paint it will not dry properly, thus resulting in paint cracking. If you must mix paints, be sure to prime the area first (which is a general rule of thumb when painting indoors).
  • Rushing the paint application. Yes, painting can be tedious, but rushing means not doing the job properly. Applying a second coat of paint too quickly and not giving the first coat of paint a chance to dry can also result in cracked paint.
  • Did You Know: Paint cracking is sometimes referred to as ‘alligatoring’ because of it’s likeness to an alligators skin.

3. Paint Peeling or ‘Alligatoring’

Unsightly peeling paint

Exterior wood is most notorious for peeling paint.

If you discover paint is peeling on your walls, read below to find the reasons why this may have occurred:

  • Moisture. While damp walls can cause paint to bubble, it can also result in paint peeling. As previously mentioned, hire someone to inspect your home for water damage and have it fixed immediately, because early detection is an easy fix while waiting too long can result in extensive damage.
  • Prep work was not correctly done. If you haven’t cleaned and allowed the wall to dry prior to painting, the paint will peel because it cannot properly stick to the surface. Again, always prime before painting and take your time.

A common solution to prevent paint bubbling, paint cracking, or paint peeling is to prime the area first, check to see if there is water damage, and have patience when painting yourself. With all of these reasons for what causes paint to bubble, crack, and peel you’ll have a better understanding of how to avoid this in the future. If you would like a professional painting company to solve your paint woes, why not call Home Painters Toronto? They’ll take the stress off your shoulders. Give us a call today at 416-494-9095 or email us at Brian@HomePaintersToronto.com.

From The Owner & Founder


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Since 1987 when I was at York University simply earning my way through school, I’ve had the privilege to meet and work with thousands of amazing homeowners like yourself.

Besides the birth of my daughter, there is nothing more satisfying than seeing a homeowner’s life change when we have transformed their dream home into a masterpiece. For that reason, we take our jobs very seriously and are committed to our cause.

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