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House Paint Tips: Fixing Exterior Paint Problems

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All exterior paint problems are correctable—find the right solution here. This section lists a variety of common paint problems. To find the exterior paint tips you need to remedy the issue, simply select the problem from the list below.

Note: Images provided by The Rohm & Hass Paint Quality Institute.
A painted surface that shows fading and patterned cracking like alligator scales Alligatoring

Surface imperfections on the paint film have the appearance of an alligator hide.

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Interior paint showing blistering or bubbling. Blistering

Bubbles appear on the surface of the paint resulting from localized loss of adhesion and lifting of the paint film from the underlying surface.

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A hand stained with bluish-colored powder illustrates a paint chalking effect. Chalking

Chalking occurs when the paint film decomposes into a loose powder on the surface. Some degree of chalking is normal, but excessive film erosion can result in heavy chalking.

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The exterior of a house showing chalk run down effect from siding onto bricks Chalk Run-Down

Chalk run-down is the washing down of chalk from an excessively eroding paint onto another area.

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An off-white colored surface that shows cracking and flaking paint Cracking or Flaking

Cracking or flaking is the splitting of a dry paint film through at least one coat, which can lead to the complete failure of the paint.

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A greenish-colored painted surface covered with dirt and dust particles Dirt Pickup

This exterior paint problem occurs when dirt, dust particles, or other debris accumulates on the paint film. This may resemble mildew.

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A blue-colored exterior surface showing signs of efflorescence through the paint Efflorescence or Mottling

Efflorescence or mottling is crusty, white mineral salt deposits. These can leach out to the surface on mortar, concrete, or masonry surfaces.

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A blue colored surface divided in two halves showing one side faded and the other clear Fading or Poor Color Retention

Premature or excessive fading of color often occurs on exterior surfaces facing southern and western exposures.

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A pink surface shows one side normal and the other with frosting effect Frosting

Frosting is a white, salt-like discolored substance on the paint surface. It is most noticeable on dark tints.

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Interior Paint Problems: Lap Marks Lap Marks

Lapping is the appearance of a denser color or higher gloss where wet and dry layers overlap during painting.

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Close up view of light blue-colored siding with mildew stains Mildew

Mildew appears as black, gray, or brown spots or areas on the paint film or caulk bead.

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Light green-painted wood with nailhead rusting showing through Nailhead Rusting

Nailhead rusting appears as reddish-brown stains on the paint surface.

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Old wood with blue- and brown-colored paints showing wear and chipping Paint Incompatibility

Paint incompatibility causes the loss of adhesion between coats were old coats of alkyd-based paint was painted over with latex.

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A blue-colored surface with the right half showing paint deterioration and color loss Poor Alkali Resistance

Poor alkali resistance can cause color loss and overall deterioration of paint film on fresh masonry.

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A white drainpipe showing paint wear and flaking Poor Galvanized Metal Adhesion

This occurs when paint has lost its adhesion to a galvanized metal substrate.

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A black surface comparing two halves of a gloss and flat finish Poor Gloss Retention

Poor gloss retention causes a rapid loss of gloss in the topcoat.

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Image of surfactant leaching. Surfactant Leaching

Surfactant leaching is a concentration of water-soluble ingredients in latex paint leaching out to the paint surface, often creating a brownish blotchy or shiny appearance.

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A wood surface comparing two halves with and without tannin staining Tannin Staining

Tannin staining appears as a brownish or tan discoloration on the paint surface from wood tannins migrating from the substrate through the paint film.

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Strips of brown and charcoal-colored vinyl siding showing effects of warping Vinyl Siding Warp

Vinyl siding warps or buckles after it has been repainted.

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A light-colored siding surface discolored with dark gray-colored streaks and spots Wax Bleeding on Hardboard Siding

The paint is discolored by waxy components found in wood products.

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Interior Painting Problems: Paint Wrinkling Wrinkling

Wrinkling manifests as a rough, crinkled surface that occurs when paint forms a "skin."

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