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Interior Painting Problems: Blistering

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Interior paint showing blistering or bubbling.

                         Blistering or bubbling paint
            (Photo courtesy of The Paint Quality Institute)

Paint bubbles can form long after the paint has dried. Take steps to avoid this problem before it occurs.

Paint blisters or bubbles occur when the paint film lifts from the underlying surface. The loss of adhesion between the paint film and surface is usually caused by heat, moisture or a combination of both. This condition eventually leads to peeling. It can be corrected, but the underlying cause of the problem must be addressed or it will recur.

What Causes Paint Bubbling or Blistering?

  • Painting a damp, dirty, or hot surface
  • Applying oil-based or alkyd paint over latex paint
  • Improper surface preparation
  • Excessive moisture
  • Exposing latex paint to moisture shortly after paint has dried

How to Prevent Paint from Bubbling

  • Make sure the surface is clean and dry
  • Apply primer-sealer over any stains and let it dry completely
  • Prime new joint compound with flat latex paint or latex primer
  • Avoid painting in hot or humid conditions
  • Let paint dry completely before exposing the surface to moisture
  • Consider installing vents or exhaust fans in humid areas

How to Fix Paint Bubbles

  • 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 with primer before applying a quality acrylic latex interior paint
  • If the blisters go down to the substrate, you will need to remove the source of moisture, if possible
  • Repair loose caulking and consider installing vents or exhaust fans to lower the humidity in the house

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