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Common Painting Problems

There are a number of things that can happen to paint if it has not been applied to the surface correctly. Here we discuss the many painting problems you may come across while decorating.

What painting problems can I face?

One of the main causes of painting problems is that you have not used the right paint on the chosen surface. You may also witness the paint bubbling, alligatoring, efflorescence and mildew build up. Each of these issues can be down to a number of factors, all of which can be prevented and solved if you do find yourself in a painting problem.


Blistering occurs when there is a loss of adhesion which causes the paint to lift from the underlying surface. Blistering happens if the paint is applied in the incorrect weather conditions for example if you have applied the paint in direct sunlight on a surface that is too warm the paint is unable to dry. If the surface is damp or wet this can also affect how well the paint adheres to the surface; the paint will often trap in moisture which then tries to release. It can also occur when the surface has not been sufficiently prepared if there is dirt or grime still on the surface the paint is less likely to stick to the surface. If you would like more information on how and why paint blisters we recommend taking a read of House Painting Guide’s article on Why Paint Blisters, and What to Do About It.

If you can push the blister down to the surface than the likelihood is its moisture affecting the paint. To get rid of the moisture you will first need to remove all of the paint, you will then need to use fans, or if it is interior paint, you can open all the windows. Different materials will hold more moisture than others but be sure the surface is thoroughly dry before reapplying another coat of paint. We also recommend if you are going to be painting the exterior of a building you need to check the weather conditions. There are paints out there that do work with damp surfaces so make sure to do your research beforehand.


Alligatoring is where the paint cracks and resembles the scales of an alligator. This is normally caused by the application of a top coat before the layers underneath have fully dried. If you have used paints containing oil then over time the paint naturally ages, with the addition of temperature fluctuation, the oils dry out causing the paint to crack. If you apply a harder coating such as an enamel over a softer more flexible coating.

To resolve this, you can remove all the paint by scraping and sanding down the surface. You will also need to make sure you are using a high-quality primer before you carry out on site spraying services. If you are a using a contractor, they will be able to ensure that the surface has been sufficiently prepared before the primer and first coat is applied.


Mildew is where black, brown or even green spots appear on the surface of the paint. Mildew occurs when the surface is damp or within a high humidity area which receives minimal sunlight or ventilation. You will need to remove the top layer by scrubbing away at the surface; you will then want this to dry thoroughly. Repainting is not always necessary; however, if it has stained the paint, then you may want to apply a new coat. Alternatively, to increase the lifespan of your exterior cladding panels or curtain wall systems you can ask a contractor to apply a protective coat which will make it less likely for mildew to appear.


Rust is normally red or brown stains on a surface which is normally an iron-based substance. If you are painting at home or a commercial property you may experience rusting from excessive exposure to the ever-changing weather or in some cases non-galvanised materials are used.

There are a number of different coats you can apply to a rusting material. Make sure that whatever it is you are painting is safe and will not cause a hazard. Some people paint over rust believing it will increase the lifespan of their cladding or metal. However, it was already too damaged.


Cracking is a little bit like alligatoring, however, is more commonly known as a hairline crack. You often get them in older properties where the paint on the walls is old. Cracking normally occurs when a low-quality paint has been used, or a paint has been spread too thin across the surface. Much like any of the issues we have discussed a crack can happen when the surface has not been sufficiently prepared. If you are painting in windy conditions, it may also cause the top layer of paint to dry too quickly.

Remove the loose paint and ensure you have sanded the area down as much as possible, you will want to make the surface as smooth as possible. Make sure you use the correct primer for the type of material you are painting, this is an essential step as it will allow the paint to adhere as much as possible. Apply even coats of paint and let each coat to thoroughly dry before applying another. If you would like to know some of the best ways to prepare metal for painting why not take a read of the 5 important steps preparing metal for painting

How to deal with painting problems

If you are in a situation where the paint is bubbling, blistering, cracking or alligatoring your key to success is by stripping the paint back and starting from the beginning. Make sure that all of the existing paint has been removed as well as any dirt and grime. Sand the surface to ensure there is a smooth and even surface. When it comes to painting, you will want to make sure you have the right primer for the material you are painting; this will allow the paint to adhere successfully.

When it comes to applying the paint, you will want to apply a sufficient amount. Allow each coat to dry thoroughly before applying another if you try to apply a new coat too soon you are likely to witness one of the painting problems discussed.

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“We have used CJ Paint Spraying a couple of times for on site spraying services along with repairs to our external cladding. All of the work they have completed for us has been spot on! It always looks brand new, and the teams are friendly and professional, we couldn't recommend enough.”

David Netherway 14th March 2018