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Painting is undoubtedly one of the quickest and least expensive ways to transform your home. It can update an area, hide flaws, highlight architectural details and so much more. If you follow the 10 commandments of painting, you’re on the road to success. However, mistakes and problems do happen. If you encounter a hiccup, the painting experts explain how to fix it.

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Blistering can be caused by heat. Image courtesy of Benjamin Moore.

The paint is blistering/bubbling  

Fortunately, this type of blister doesn’t hurt, but it can be painful to look at. “Paint blisters or bubbles occur when the paint film lifts from the underlying surface,” says Mike Mundwiller, Field Development Manager at Benjamin Moore.

So what causes a paint blister? “The loss of adhesion between the paint film and surface is usually caused by heat, moisture or a combination of both,” Mundwiller says. And it eventually leads to peeling. While it can be corrected, he says you need to figure out what’s causing the problem or it will occur again.

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Moisture is another cause of blistering.

Moisture is another cause of blistering. Image courtesy of Benjamin Moore.

How to fix blistering/bubbling paint

You can scrape and sand the blisters to remove them (if they don’t go down to the substrate). Once the area is smooth, Mundwiller says you should apply a coat of primer and then apply the paint. “However, you’ll need to find and remove the source of moisture if the blisters go down to the substrate.”

To stop paint from blistering or bubbling, Mundwiller says you should always start with a clean, dry surface. “Apply primer-sealer over any stains and give it time to dry completely,” he says. “Always make sure that the paint is completely dry before you expose the surface to moisture,” Mundwiller adds. He also recommends using (or installing) exhaust fans or vents in high-humidity areas. 

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Allow each coat to dry before applying the next one.

Allow each coat to dry before applying the next one. Image courtesy of Benjamin Moore.

The paint is cracking or flaking

When you see a hairline crack, don’t ignore it. “Cracks in paint can start small, but will worsen over time if they are not fixed,” Mundwiller says. Cracks or flakes can be caused by a variety of issues, including not preparing the surface or applying oil-based paint over latex paint. “Also, if you use a cheap paint, it’s not going to adhere properly or be flexible,” Mundwiller says. Sometimes, the paint is old, or it’s being applied in the wrong environment and, therefore, is drying too quickly.

Extreme cracking, sometimes called ‘alligatoring,’ is 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,” he explains.

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Always remove loose paint.

Always remove loose paint before repainting. Image courtesy of Benjamin Moore.

How to fix cracked or flaking paint

You can use a wire brush or scraper to remove loose paint (if the cracking isn’t down to the substrate). “Then, sand the area to feather the edges, prime any bare spots and repaint the surface,” Mundwiller explains. You may need to use a filler if flaking happens in multiple layers of paint.

“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 then repaint with a quality latex paint,” Mundwiller says.

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For a perfect finish, use the right amount of paint.

For a perfect finish, use the right amount of paint. Image courtesy of PPG Paints.

The paint is spread too thin

Colors are powerful and that’s why your color choices are important. But it’s also important to use the proper techniques when painting. A common mistake is spreading paint too thin, according to Jenny Burroughs, PPG Paint Brand Senior Product Manager. “Always ensure that your brush is evenly covered but not soaking wet, and follow the paint manufacturer’s instructions for application,” she says.

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Touch up paint should be seamless.

Touch up paint should be seamless. Image courtesy of Sherwin-Williams.

Touch up mistakes

Sometimes, you don’t need to paint a whole room, you just want to touch up a small area. “It’s not uncommon to see a noticeable difference in appearance between the original finish and the touched-up areas,” according to Mark Eichelberger, Senior Product Manager of Architectural Paint at Sherwin-Williams.

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Always clean the surface before applying touch-up paint.

Always clean the surface before applying touch-up paint. Image courtesy of Sherwin-Williams.

“To avoid this, I recommend trying to clean marks with a soft sponge and liquid detergent before touching up,” he says. If it’s possible, he also recommends using the original batch of paint and a similar applicator to the one used in the original job.

 

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New boards must be properly cured.

New boards must be properly cured. Image: BondRocketImage/Shutterstock

Deck staining issues

Interior paint isn’t the only place you can run into issues, either. Staining a newly replaced deck can produce undesirable results. “People do not allow for proper curing time. Once cured, they also don’t know that they have to remove the mill glaze prior to staining,” says Michael Nungesser, Owner of Five Star Painting of Central Georgia and Fayette/Coweta.

“Allow 30 to 60 days for new boards to cure,” Nungesser advises. He says that most homeowners aren’t aware that the new decking has a mill glaze (a glossy film that forms on the deck). The glaze can be removed with a wood deck cleaner, but Nungesser says this is another area prone to mistakes. “People often wash a deck with bleach and don’t neutralize the bleach with a wash prior to staining.” He also warns against using a pressure washer since it will impregnate the wood with water. For the best finish, he says to “allow the deck to dry to 20% moisture, and then apply two new coats of stain.”

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