Tips

Common Exterior Paint Problems

Photos courtesy of The Paint Quality Institute
  • Alligatoring

    Is a patterned cracking in the surface of the paint film that resembles the regular scales of an alligator.

    Causes:

    1. This problem may be caused by applying an extremely hard, rigid coating, like an alkyd enamel, over a more flexible coating, like a latex primer.
    2. Applying the topcoat before the undercoat is dry may also cause alligatoring.
    3. Alternatively, the natural aging of oil-based paints as temperatures fluctuate causes constant expansion and contraction that can result in a loss of paint film elasticity.

    Solutions:

    1. Completely remove the existing oil paint by scraping and sanding the surface. You can use a heat gun to speed up work on large surfaces, but take care to avoid igniting paint or substrate.
    2. The surface should be primed with a high-quality latex or oil-based primer, then painted with a top-quality exterior latex paint.
  • Chalking Paint

    A fine powder can occur on the surface of the paint film during weathering, which can case colour fading.

    Causes:

    1. Although some degree of chalking is a normal, desirable way for a paint film to wear, excessive film erosion can result in heavy chalking.
    2. The use of a lower-quality, highly pigmented paint or an interior paint can cause the paint to erode prematurely and cause chalking.

    Solutions:

    1. First, remove as much of the chalk residue as possible, using a stiff bristle brush (or wire brush on masonry) and then rinse thoroughly with a garden hose; or use power washing equipment. 
    2. Check for any remaining chalk by running a hand over the surface after it dries. If noticeable chalk is still present, apply a quality oil-based or acrylic latex primer (or comparable sealer for masonry).
    3. Repaint with a quality exterior coating. If little or no chalk remains and the old paint is sound, no priming is necessary.
  • Chalk Run-Down

    This problem occurs when the paint film erodes and the resulting residue appears chalky.

    Causes:

    1. Chalk run-down occurs when paint erodes excessively onto another area below (a brick foundation, for example), ruining its appearance. The problem has a number of causes.
    2. First, the use of a lower-quality, highly pigmented paint or an interior paint can cause the paint to erode prematurely. Factory-finished metal siding can also erode to cause this problem.

    Solutions:

    1. First, remove as much of the chalk residue as possible by scrubbing any stained areas with a stiff brush and a detergent solution. Then, rinse the surface thoroughly. In cases of severe staining, an acid wash may be necessary. Either way, if the affected area dries to a different color, consider painting it with a quality latex paint. Eroding aluminum siding should be thoroughly cleaned (power washing recommended) before painting with a quality exterior latex paint.
  • Cracking or Flaking

    Paint can crack & flake, sometimes revealing the substrate.

    Causes:

    1. Dry paint can split through at least one coat, which will lead to complete failure of the paint. Early on, the problem appears as hairline cracks. Later, flaking of paint chips occurs.
    2. A variety of causes exist for cracking or flaking of paint. First, if lower-quality paint has been applied to the surface, it will have inadequate adhesion and flexibility. Another cause is that the paint was spread too thin on the surface.
    3. Poor surface preparation, especially when the paint is applied to bare wood without priming, can also cause this problem. Finally, painting under cool or windy conditions can make latex paint dry too fast, causing it to crack.

    Solutions:

    1. If the cracking does not go down to the substrate, you may be able to correct it by removing the loose or flaking paint with
      a scraper or wire brush, sanding the area to feather the edges, priming any bare spots, and repainting it.
    2. If the cracking goes down to the substrate, remove all of the paint by scraping and sanding or use a heat gun. Then prime and repaint with a quality exterior paint.

  • Dirt Pick-Up

    Dirt, dust particles, or other debris can accumulate on the paint film, which may resemble mildew.

    Causes:

    1. Dirt can accumulate on lower-quality paints, especially lower grades of satin or semi-gloss.
    2. Usually, dirt pickup is caused by soil splashing onto siding or results from air pollution, car exhaust, and flying dust collecting on the house body and horizontal trim.

    Solutions:

    1. Wash off all surface dirt before priming and painting. If unsure whether the problem is dirt or mildew, conduct a simple spot-test (see Mildew). Clean off dirt with a scrub brush and detergent solution, followed by a thorough rinsing with a garden hose. Heavier dirt accumulation may require the use of a power washer.
    2. While dirt pickup can’t be eliminated entirely, top-quality exterior latex paints typically offer superior dirt pickup resistance and washability. Also, higher-gloss paints are more resistant to dirt pickup than flat paints, which are more porous and can easily entrap dirt.
  • Efflorescence or Mottling

    Efflorescence or mottling appears as crusty, white salt deposits, leached from mortar or masonry as water passes through.

    Causes:

    1. Efflorescence or mottling is caused by failing to adequately to prepare the surface by removing all previous efflorescence or when excess moisture escapes through the exterior masonry walls from the inside.

    Solutions:

    1. If excess moisture is the cause, eliminate the source by repairing the roof, cleaning out gutters and downspouts, and sealing any cracks in the masonry with a high-quality, water-based all-acrylic or a siliconized acrylic caulk.
    2. If moist air is originating inside the building, consider installing vents or exhaust fans, especially in kitchen, bathroom, and laundry areas.
    3. Remove the efflorescence and all other loose material with a wire brush, power brush, or power washer; then thoroughly rinse the surface. Apply a quality water-based or solvent-based masonry sealer and allow it to dry completely; then apply a coat of top-quality exterior house paint, masonry paint, or elastomeric wall coating.
  • Fading Poor Colour Retention

    Paint can lighten over time. This occurs on surfaces with sunny southern exposures.

    Causes:

    1. Fading or poor color retention can also be a result of chalking of the coating.  One cause of fading is the use 
      of an interior grade of paint or lower-quality paint.
    2. This can lead to a rapid degradation (chalking) of the paint film. Some paint colors are particularly vulnerable to UV radiation (most notably, certain bright reds, blues, and yellows).
    3. Fading will also occur when tinting a white paint not intended for tinting, or over-tinting a light or medium 
      paint base.

    Solutions:

    1. When fading or poor color retention is a result of chalking,
      it is necessary to remove as much of the chalk as possible. When you repaint the surface, be sure to use a quality exterior house paint in colors recommended for exterior use.
  • Frosting

    Frosting appears a white, salt-like substance on the paint surface. Frosting can occur on any paint colour, but it is less noticeable on white paint or light tints.

    Causes:

    1. On masonry, frosting can be mistaken for efflorescence. Frosting forms mostly in protected areas (such as under eaves and open porch ceilings) that do not receive the cleansing action of rain, dew, and other moisture.
    2. The use of dark-colored paints that have been formulated with calcium carbonate exterior may also cause this. Applying a dark-colored paint over a paint or primer containing calcium carbonate extender can also lead to this problem.

    Solutions:

    1. Frosting can be a stubborn problem. It often cannot be washed off readily. The condition can also recur as a bleed-through even when a new top coat is applied.
    2. In extreme cases, it can interfere with adhesion. The best remedy is to remove the frosting by wire brushing masonry or sanding wood surfaces. Then rinse and apply an alkyd-based primer before adding a coat of high quality exterior paint.
  • Nail Head Rusting

    Nail head rusting appears as reddish-brown stains on the painted surface.

    Causes:

    1. This problem occurs when non-galvanized iron nails that have not been countersunk and filled over begin to rust, and the rust bleeds through to the topcoat.
    2. Sometimes this condition is caused by galvanized nail heads that have been sanded or have weathered excessively, and they then begin to rust.

    Solutions:

    1. When painting new exterior construction where non-galvanized nails have been used, you should first countersink the nail heads, then caulk over them with a top-quality, water-based all-acrylic or a siliconized acrylic caulk. Each nail head area should be spot primed, then painted with a quality latex coating.
    2. When repainting exteriors where nail head rusting has occurred, wash off the rust stains, sand the nail heads, then follow the same surface preparation procedures as for new construction.
  • Paint Incompatibility

    Paint incompatibility can cause loss of adhesion where many old coats of alkyd or oil-based paint receive a latex topcoat.

    Causes:

    1. When water-based latex is painted over more than three or four coats of old alkyd or oil-based paint, the old paint may “lift off” the substrate.

    Solutions:

    1. Repaint the surface using another coat of alkyd or oil-based paint. Alternatively, you can completely remove the existing paint and prepare the surface—cleaning, sanding, and spot-priming where necessary—before repainting with a top-quality latex exterior paint.
  • Poor Alkali Resistance

    Poor Alkali resistance can cause colour loss and overall deterioration of paint film on fresh masonry.

    Causes:

    1. Applying oil-based paint or vinyl acrylic latex paint to new masonry that has not cured for a full year may lead to poor alkali resistance.
    2. Fresh masonry is likely to contain lime, which is very alkaline. Until the lime has a chance to react with carbon dioxide from the air, the alkalinity of the masonry remains so that it can attack the integrity of the 
      paint film.

    Solutions:

    1. Allow masonry surfaces to cure for at least 30 days, and ideally for a full year, before painting. If this is not possible, you should apply a quality, alkali-resistant sealer, or latex primer, followed by a top-quality 100% acrylic latex exterior paint. The acrylic binder in these paints resists alkali attack.
  • Poor Galvanized Metal Adhesion

    Paint that has lost its adhesion to a galvanized metal substrate.

    Causes:

    1. When a surface has not been properly prepared.
    2. When a primer has not been applied before an oil-based paint is used.
    3. When baked-on enamel finishes or glossy surfaces have not been sanded before painting.

    Solutions:

    1. First, use a wire brush to remove any rust on your metal surface. Then, apply a corrosion-resistant acrylic latex primer—one coat is usually sufficient.
    2. With galvanized metal that is new or has been painted before and is rust-free, clean the surface to remove all fabricating oils.
    3. Then, paint it with a top-quality acrylic latex paint without applying a primer. 
    4. With unpainted galvanized metal, however, always use a metal primer before you apply an oil-based or vinyl latex topcoat.
  • Poor Gloss Retention

    Deterioration of the paint film, resulting in excessive or rapid loss of luster of the topcoat.

    Causes:

    1. The paint film may deteriorate if an interior paint has been used outdoors or a lower-quality paint has been replied.
    2. Using a gloss alkyd or oil-based paint in areas of direct sunlight may also cause poor gloss retention.

    Solutions:

    1. Direct sunshine can degrade the binder and pigment of paint, causing it to chalk and lose its gloss. While all types of paint will lose some degree of luster over time, lower- quality paints will generally lose gloss much earlier than better grades.
    2. The binder in top-quality acrylic latex paint is especially resistant to UV radiation, while oil and alkyd binders actually absorb the radiation, causing the binders to break down. Surface preparation for a coating showing poor gloss retention should be similar to that used in chalking surfaces (see Chalking).
  • Surfactant Leaching

    Causes the appearance of sticky brown residue or spots on paint.

    Surfactants are necessary ingredients of latex paint. These water-soluble components migrate over time to the surface of the paint and eventually evaporate.

    When newly applied latex paint is exposed to high moisture or humidity while it’s drying and/or curing, the surfactants can rise prematurely to the film’s surface, producing a brown residue or splotches. Surfactant leaching frequently shows up in bathrooms and other humid environments as brown stains on ceilings or walls.

    While unattractive, surfactant leaching does not harm the coating.

    Causes:

    1. Cool, humid conditions can draw the surfactants to the surface before the paint thoroughly dries.
    2. Surfactant leaching is common on outdoor surfaces, as well as in bathrooms, where moisture condenses on walls.
    3. Tinted colors are more prone to surfactant leaching, due to the extra surfactants and glycols in the added colorant.

    Solutions:

    1. Rinse the surface with water or wipe with a damp cloth as soon as you notice stains. You may have to clean the area periodically as leaching occurs over time.
    2. On exterior surfaces, normal weathering will usually remove surfactant stains naturally. Stains can accumulate, however, on surfaces shielded from the elements.
    3. Stains must be removed before you repaint.
  • Tannin Staining

    Brownish or tan discolouration on the paint surface due to migration of tannins from the substrate through the paint film. Typically occurs on “staining woods” such as redwood, cedar & mahogany, or over painted knots in certain other wood species.

    Causes:

    1. Stains from the tannins in these woods are caused by a combination of moisture and insufficient sealing. Moisture can carry tannins contained in the wood through paint on the surface, and are likely to be visible especially with light or medium colors. 

    Solutions:

    Unpainted Wood

    1. If your wood becomes stained when you are applying paint, use two coats of primer before you apply your topcoat. Be sure to wait 24 hours between coats after applying the first primer coat.
    2. If stains occur, prime the stained spot again and allow it to dry. Then apply the finish coat. In some cases, it is best to allow new wood to weather for several weeks before painting.

    Painted Wood

    1. Wash stained areas with a mixture of denatured alcohol and water. You can also use wood bleach (oxalic acid).
      Rinse all treated areas well and let them dry thoroughly, and then apply one coat of your selected primer and topcoat.
  • Vinyl Siding Warp

    Vinyl siding panels that have been repainted sometimes warp or buckle.

    Causes:

    1. Vinyl siding warp is usually caused by painting a home’s vinyl siding in a color darker than the original or by using a type of paint that is not specially formulated for vinyl.

    Solutions:

    1. Top-quality acrylic latex paint is the best type of paint to use on vinyl siding, because the superior flexibility of the paint film enables it to withstand the stress of expansion and contraction cycles caused by outdoor temperature changes. We recommend Regal® Select Exterior™ for Vinyl Siding, a premium Benjamin Moore paint formulated specifically for optimal performance on vinyl siding and trim. In addition, choose colors that are safe for vinyl—like our Colors for Vinyl Siding collection. With hundreds of colors to choose from, it’s easy to refresh weathered or faded vinyl siding without the risk of warping.
    2. Siding that has already warped or buckled should be assessed by a qualified siding or home repair contractor. In some cases, warped sections may need to be replaced or repaired before painting begins.
  • Wax Bleeding on Hardboard Siding

    Stains that come from waxy substances in the reconstituted wood products used to make hardboard siding. When the substrate is painted, these staining substances bleed through the paint; they can even bleed through some ordinary primers, possibly causing dirt pickup, mildew and/or poor paint adhesion (see Dirt Pickup & Mildew).

    Causes:

    1. Dark paints, which show discoloration more readily than lighter paints due to their tendency to absorb heat.
    2. Areas without adequate coats, which are more likely to show staining.
    3. Paints with low levels of binder, which are more likely to allow wax to migrate from hardboard.
    4. Direct sunlight and heat.

    Solutions:

    To correct discoloration caused by wax bleeding, it is first necessary to figure out whether wax bleeding is indeed occurring. Do this by:

    1. Placing a few drops of household bleach on the discolored area. If no whitening or bleaching occurs, the stain is probably wax.
    2. Placing water droplets on both normal and discolored areas. If the water beads up and runs off, it is likely due to wax bleeding.
    3. If the surface wax is light, use a detergent solution to clean any discolored areas. With severe cases of wax bleeding, clean the surface completely by wiping it with a solvent such as mineral spirits. Change your rags frequently as you clean, and allow the surface to dry thoroughly before painting.
  • Wrinkling

    Paint ridges or wrinkles occur when uncured paint forms a “skin,” leaving the surface rough and crinkled.

    Paint wrinkling can occur if paint is applied too thickly or under adverse environmental conditions. It is more likely to happen when using alkyd paints. Fortunately, a paint wrinkling problem is easy to remedy.

    Causes:

    1. The paint layer is too heavy
    2. Applying paint on a dirty surface
    3. Applying paint on a hot surface
    4. Applying paint under very hot or cold conditions
    5. Exposing uncured paint to water or high humidity
    6. Not allowing undercoats to dry properly
    7. Painting over a glossy surface that has not been sanded

    Solutions:

    1. First, allow the paint to dry thoroughly
    2. Remove wrinkles by scraping or rough sanding
    3. Sand the surface smooth
    4. Wipe the affected area with a damp cloth, making sure the surface is clean
    5. If needed, prime bare areas with the appropriate primer, allowing it to dry completely
    6. Reapply the paint, following the manufacturer’s instructions

Common Interior Paint Problems

Photos courtesy of The Paint Quality Institute
  • Blistering

    Paint blisters or bubbles occur when there is a loss of adhesion and lifting of the paint film from the underlying surface.

    Causes:

    1. Applying an oil-based (alkyd based) paint directly over a latex paint, without a conversion primer.
    2. Painting a wet, damp, dirty or hot surface.
    3. Moisture seeping into the home through the exterior walls.
    4. Exposing latex paint to moisture shortly after the paint has dried.
    5. Improper surface preparation.

    Solutions:

    1. If the blisters do not go all the way down to the substrate, remove them by scraping and sanding. Once the problem area has a smooth finish, coat it with primer before applying a quality acrylic latex interior paint.
    2. If the blisters go down to the substrate, you will need to remove the source of moisture, if possible.
  • Blocking/Sticking

    When two freshly painted surfaces stick together, when pressed against each other (eg. A door sticking to the jamb.)

    Causes:

    1. Insufficient time is allowed for the paint to cure before closing doors or windows.
    2. Using low-quality semi-gloss or gloss paints.

    Solutions:

    1. Use top-quality 100% acrylic latex or alkyd semi-gloss, gloss paint. Low-quality latex paints can have poor block resistance, especially in warm, damp conditions.
    2. Follow paint label instructions regarding dry times.
    3. Doors and windows should be adjusted to open and close properly.
  • Burnishing

    Repeated rubbing can cause paint burnishing. You can prevent it by using the proper paint for high-traffic areas that require frequent cleaning.

    Causes:

    1. Frequent washing and spot cleaning painted walls and surfaces, especially with an abrasive cleanser.
    2. Using flat paint or paint with low stain and scrub resistance in high-traffic areas.
    3. Objects rubbing against the paint (furniture, for example.)

    Solutions:

    1. Paint heavy-wear areas that require regular cleaning (doors, window sills, and trim) with a top-quality semi-gloss or gloss latex paint, which is more durable and easy to clean. Choose a satin or semi-gloss rather than a flat sheen on walls in high-traffic areas.
    2. Prevent furniture and other objects from rubbing against the painted surface
    3. For maximum durability, wait at least two weeks after painting before washing the surface.
    4. Clean painted surfaces with a soft cloth or sponge and non-abrasive cleansers, and rinse with clean water.
    5. To remove penetrating stains and marks, carefully use an abrasive cleaner and water, or wash with a diluted solution of household bleach, and then rinse with clean water.

  • Caulk Failure

    When the caulking looses its initial adhesion & flexibility, causing it to crack and pull away from the surface.

    Causes:

    1. Using a low-quality or the wrong type of caulk for a particular application. An example of this would be using latex or vinyl caulk in areas where there is prolonged contact with water or considerable movement of the caulked surfaces.
    2. Not properly preparing or priming the surface prior to caulking.
    3. Applying too thin a bead of caulk.

    Solutions:

    1. Caulks and sealants have different properties. Select the proper product for the job and follow manufacturer’s instructions.
    2. Use a top-quality water-based, all-acrylic, or siliconized acrylic caulk if you do not anticipate prolonged contact with water. These caulks are flexible enough to adapt to minor fluctuations in the substrate. They also adhere to a wide range of interior building materials, including wood, ceramic tile, concrete, glass, plaster, bare aluminum, brick, and plastic— even in areas where moisture is present.
    3. Proper surface preparation. Caulk requires a clean surface to perform effectively; remove all surface contamination, old, cracked or brittle caulk, loose or peeling paint.
    4. In most cases, the surface should be primed to give the caulk a good bond and to prevent the substrate from absorbing the liquid out of the caulk, which may cause improper drying and poor performance.
    5. Silicone caulking should not be painted.
  • Cracking/Flaking

    Dry paint sometimes cracks or flakes due to aging or improper application. Early on, the problem appears as hairline cracks; later, flaking or paint chips occurs.

    Causes:

    1. The use of low-quality paint, resulting in inadequate adhesion and flexibility.
    2. Oil-based paint applied over latex paint.
    3. Paint was spread too thin during application.
    4. Poor surface preparation, especially when the paint is applied to bare wood without priming.
    5. Paint drying too fast due to environmental conditions.
    6. Paint becoming brittle with age, failing to expand and contract with temperature and humidity changes.
    7. Extreme cracking, sometimes called “alligatoring,” caused when a second or third coat of paint is applied before the previous coat dries completely, or when the undercoat is incompatible with the finish coat.

    Solutions:

    1. If the cracking does not go down to the substrate, remove the loose or flaking paint with a scraper or wire brush, sand the area to feather the edges, prime any bare spots, and repaint the surface.
    2. If the flaking occurs in multiple layers of paint, you may need to use a filler.
    3. If the cracking goes down to the substrate, remove all of the paint by scraping or using a heat gun, sand the surface until smooth and even, prime, and repaint with a quality latex paint.
  • Foaming/Cratering

    Paint bubbles or foam can form during paint application, and when they break and dry out, they create paint cratering.

    Causes:

    1. Shaking a partially filled can of paint.
    2. Using low-quality latex paint, or paint that is old.
    3. Applying (especially rolling) paint too rapidly.
    4. Using a roller cover with the wrong nap length.
    5. Excessively rolling or brushing the paint.
    6. Applying a gloss or semi-gloss paint over a painted surface without first priming.

    Solutions:

    1. Avoid excessive rolling or brushing.
    2. Avoid using paint that is more than a year old.
    3. Prime porous surfaces before applying paint.
    4. If applying gloss or semi-gloss paints, prime before painting and use a short nap roller.
    5. Avoid vigorous shaking or the paint can or swirling the brush in the paint.
    6. Sand problem areas before repainting.
  • Lap Marks

    Lap marks appear as a denser color or higher gloss where wet and dry layers overlap.

    Causes:

    1. Failure to maintain a “wet edge” when painting.

    Solutions:

    1. To avoid making lap marks, do not paint sections of large surfaces from top to bottom completely. Instead, paint walls and other surfaces in sections small enough to allow you to maintain a wet edge.
    2. Add paint conditioner to product to keep longer open/dry times.
    3. To cover lap marks, spread another coat of paint on top of your previous coat, taking care to spread it uniformly. If the finish is transparent or the surface is overly porous, you may need to apply a second coat or a primer coat.
    4. Avoid painting on hot, windy days, as this will accelerate the drying time of paint.
  • Mildew

    Mildew can appear on the surface of paint or caulk as black, gray, green or brown spots.

    Causes:

    1. Mold and mildew thrive in warm, damp, or humid areas that receive little or no air circulation, areas that have high condensation, and areas that get little direct sunlight, such as bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms, and basements.
    2. Mold and mildew exude a musty odor.
    3. Molds come in a wide range of colors (black, green, white, brown, gray, or orange) and textures (slimy, furry, or powdery.)
    4. Test for mildew by applying a few drops of household bleach to the discolored area. If the discolorations disappear, they are probably mildew.

    Solutions:

    1. Properly prime the surface before painting
    2. Use a high-quality latex paint. Consider using a mildew-resistant paint, such as Benjamin Moore’s low-VOC Aura® Bath and Spa paint. It’s a low-odor interior paint containing additives to inhibit mildew growth on the paint’s surface.
    3. Take steps to reduce the humidity and increase air circulation in the room
    4. If mildew already exists, scrub the surface with one part household bleach and three parts water. Wait 10 minutes, then rinse the area with water. Let the area dry thoroughly. If necessary, repeat the procedure until all traces of mildew are gone.
  • Mud Cracking

    Mud cracks are deep, irregular cracks that resemble dried mud.

    Causes:

    1. Mud cracking can result if you try to make one heavy coat of paint do the job of two regular coats. To avoid mud cracks on your surface, don’t apply paint too thickly. This will allow for proper drying and curing.

    Solutions:

    1. Remove the affected coating by scraping and sanding. Sand the area smooth and wipe it clean.
    2. Apply primer and repaint using a premium latex paint, which is more flexible than alkyd paint. A top-quality latex paint with a high-solids content will provide good coverage, so you don’t have to apply an excessively heavy coat.
  • Picture Framing

    Darker or lighter areas where paint was cut in produce an effect known as “picture framing” or “hatbanding.”

    Corners, edges, and other areas that are cut-in with a brush can dry darker or lighter than the rest of the wall that was painted with a roller.

    Causes:

    1. Heavier or lighter application of the paint when cutting in corners, trim, and ceiling areas.
    2. Spraying versus brushing paint in tight areas.
    3. Using a roller cover nap that is too long, which will produce a heavy texture.
    4. Not maintaining a wet edge while painting.
    5. Improperly mixing paint, causing it to not be uniform.

    Solutions:

    1. Prime the drywall before painting.
    2. Paint the corners and edges of one wall or section at a time, not the entire room, so that those areas will still be wet when you use a roller on the larger areas.
    3. Cut in as narrow an area as needed with your brush, usually 1″ to 2″, and get your roller as close to the corners as possible.
    4. Use the feather-edge brushing technique in corners or along edges.
    5. For smooth surfaces such as drywall, use roller covers with naps ranging from ¼-inch to ½-inch, depending on the sheen of your finish coat.
  • Poor Flow/Leveling

    Visible brush and roller marks are the results of poor paint flow & levelling.

    Causes:

    1. Poor-quality paint is the leading cause of this problem.
    2. Using improper or low-quality brushes or roller covers.
    3. Brushing or rolling more frequently than necessary.
    4. Touching up, re-brushing or re-rolling dried or partially dried areas.
    5. Painting a warm or porous surface, which makes paint dry faster.

    Solutions:

    1. Top-quality latex paints are generally formulated with ingredients that enhance paint flow. Brush and roller marks thus tend to “flow out” and form a smooth film.
    2. When using a roller, be sure to use a cover with the recommended nap length for the application.
    3. Use a high-quality brush. Using an inferior paint brush can result in bad flow and leveling with any paint.
  • Poor Paint Hiding

    The failure of dried paint to obscure or “hide” a surface when it has been uniformly applied indicates either a low-quality paint or improper surface preparation.

    Causes:

    1. Using low-quality paint
    2. Spreading paint too thinly or unevenly
    3. Thinning or diluting paint
    4. Use of an improper combination of tinting base and tinting color
    5. Poor flow and leveling
    6. Using incorrect or poor-quality tools
    7. Use of a paint that is much lighter in color than the substrate, or that primarily contains low-hiding organic pigments
    8. Application of paint at a higher spread rate than recommended
    9. Inadequately mixed paint

    Solutions:

    1. Choose high-quality paints with high-hide capability, like our Aura® paints
    2. Avoid thinning your paint. Most paints are designed to be applied without thinners.
    3. If the substrate is significantly darker or is a patterned wallpaper, it should be primed before applying a top coat.
    4. If using tinted paint, use the correct tinting base. Where a low-hiding organic color must be used, apply a tinted primer first.
    5. Use high-quality brushes, rollers and other tools designed specifically for the job. If rolling, use the recommended roller nap.
    6. Follow manufacturer’s recommendations on spread rate.
    7. Allow proper drying time between coats.
    8. Certain paint colors-such as yellows, reds, and oranges-inherently offer weaker color hiding. Follow the steps above to achieve the best paint hiding results.
  • Poor Scrub Resistance

    Paint with poor scrub resistance will show worn spots, drabness, or a scratched appearance, primarily after being scrubbed with an abrasive brush, sponge or cleaning agent.

    Causes:

    1. Choosing the wrong sheen for the painted surface.
    2. Using low-quality paint.
    3. Overly-aggressive scrubbing or abrasive cleansers.
    4. Washing painted surface before the paint has cured.

    Solutions:

    1. High-traffic areas or areas that need frequent cleaning require the higher-quality scrub resistance of a semi-gloss or gloss paint rather than a flat paint.
    2. Allow adequate drying time, as scrub resistance will not fully develop until the paint is thoroughly cured. Typically, this takes about a week.
    3. Test the surface by washing with the least abrasive material and mildest detergent first.
  • Flashing

    Poor Sheen uniformity leads to shiny spots or dull spots (flashing) on a painted surface.

    Causes:

    1. Unevenly spreading the paint as you apply it.
    2. Failing to maintain a wet edge, which can lead to lapping.
    3. Not properly priming a porous surface, or a surface with variable porosity.

    Solutions:

    1. New substrates should be primed and sealed before applying the top coat to ensure a uniformly smooth surface. Without the use of a primer or sealer, a second coat of paint will more likely be needed to produce a uniform sheen.
    2. Make sure to apply paint from “wet to dry” to prevent lapping.
    3. Applying an additional coat of paint will even out sheen irregularities.
  • Poor Stain Resistance

    Paints with low stain resistance absorb dirt, grime and stains. Choosing a high-quality paint with high stain resistance, like Regal Select, and properly priming the surface will help make staining less likely, and dirt and grime easier to remove.

    Causes:

    1. Using low-quality, porous paint
    2. Application of paint to unprimed substrate

    Solutions:

    1. High-quality latex paints contain more binders, which help prevent stains from penetrating the painted surface. This makes cleaning easier.
    2. Properly priming surfaces provides maximum film thickness for paint and helps make it more stain-resistant.
    3. Eggshell and satin paints are generally more stain-resistant than flat paints.
  • Roller Marks or Stipple

    Unintentional textured pattern left in the paint by the roller.

    Causes:

    1. Roller marks can result if the paint is applied using an incorrect or low-quality roller cover. Using an incorrect technique can also lead to this condition.
    2. Finally, lower grades of paint are more prone to having roller marks appear.

    Solutions:

    1. When applying paint, make sure you use the proper roller cover. Avoid too long a nap for the paint and substrate. Use quality rollers to ensure adequate film thickness and uniformity.
    2. High-quality paints tend to roll on more evenly due to their higher solids’ content and leveling properties.
    3. Pre-dampen roller covers used with latex paint and shake out any excess water. Begin rolling at a corner near the ceiling and work down the wall in three-foot-square sections. Spread the paint in a zigzag “M” or “W” pattern, beginning with an upward stroke to minimize spatter. Then, without lifting the roller from the surface, fill in the zigzag pattern with even, parallel strokes.
    4. Do not let paint build up at roller ends
  • Roller Spattering

    Roller spattering occurs when a roller throws off small droplets of paint during application.

    Causes:

    1. One obvious cause of roller spattering is overloading the roller or overworking the paint once it is applied.
    2. Roller spattering also tends to occur when an exterior paint is used on an interior surface or if lower grades of latex paint are used.

    Solutions:

    1. Higher-quality paints are formulated to minimize spattering. Using high-quality rollers that have proper resiliency further reduces spattering.
    2. In some cases, a quality wall paint may be preferred for ceiling work, to ensure maximum spattering resistance.
    3. Working in three-foot-square sections, apply the paint in a zigzag “M” or “W” pattern and then fill in the pattern, which will also lessen the likelihood of spattering.
  • Sagging Paint

    Sagging is a downward “drooping” movement of the paint that occurs immediately after application.

    Causes:

    1. Applying paint too thickly.
    2. Applying paint in cold or humid weather.
    3. Paint that is over-thinned.
    4. Airless spray painting with the wrong tip or the gun held too close to the surface.

    Solutions:

    1. Sand glossy surfaces before application
    2. If you notice thick patches of paint while it is still wet, brush or roll it out to distribute it evenly
    3. If the sagging paint has dried, sand the surface and repaint
    4. Do not thin the paint
    5. Avoid applying paint in cool or humid conditions
    6. Two coats of paint at the recommended spread rate are better than one heavy coat
    7. If you plan on painting doors, consider removing them so you can paint horizontally.
  • Surfactant Leaching

    Causes the appearance of sticky brown residue or spots on paint.

    Surfactants are necessary ingredients of latex paint. These water-soluble components migrate over time to the surface of the paint and eventually evaporate.

    When newly applied latex paint is exposed to high moisture or humidity while it’s drying and/or curing, the surfactants can rise prematurely to the film’s surface, producing a brown residue or splotches. Surfactant leaching frequently shows up in bathrooms and other humid environments as brown stains on ceilings or walls.

    While unattractive, surfactant leaching does not harm the coating.

    Causes:

    1. Cool, humid conditions can draw the surfactants to the surface before the paint thoroughly dries.
    2. Surfactant leaching is common on outdoor surfaces, as well as in bathrooms, where moisture condenses on walls.
    3. Tinted colors are more prone to surfactant leaching, due to the extra surfactants and glycols in the added colorant.

    Solutions:

    1. Rinse the surface with water or wipe with a damp cloth as soon as you notice stains. You may have to clean the area periodically as leaching occurs over time.
    2. On exterior surfaces, normal weathering will usually remove surfactant stains naturally. Stains can accumulate, however, on surfaces shielded from the elements.
    3. Stains must be removed before you repaint.
  • Wrinkling

    When uncured paint forms a skin, it can wrinkle, making the surface appear rough and crinkled paint.

    Causes:

    1. Wrinkling can occur is you apply paint too thickly (more likely when using alkyd or oil-based paints). 
      Painting during extremely hot weather or cool damp weather causes the paint film to dry faster on top than on the bottom, which can lead to wrinkling. Uncured paint that is exposed to high humidity levels is also susceptible to wrinkling.
    2. Another possible cause of wrinkling is applying a top coat of paint to insufficiently cured primer.
    3. Finally, painting over contaminated surface (e.g., dirt or wax) may also lead to this condition.

    Solutions:

    1. Scrape or sand substrate to remove wrinkled coating.
    2. If using a primer, allow it to dry completely before applying top coat.
    3. Repaint the area (avoiding temperature or humidity extremes), applying an even coat of top quality exterior paint.

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