7 Common Paint Problems (And How to Fix Them)

Whether you are an experienced painter or a beginner, things can pop up that leave your paint project looking inferior. It’s good to know the common interior paint problems and how you can fix them to leave your home looking like it was painted by professionals.

Avoid Painting Defects: Be Prepared

Proper preparation should be at the start of every paint project. While problems can still arise or persist, a hasty paint job never lasts as long or looks as good as one that was prepared for properly. Here’s a quick primer on prep (for more detailed information on paint project preparation, see Proper Paint Prep and Cleanup Tips).

Step 1: Prepare Surfaces

Since paint doesn’t adhere to dirty or damaged areas, it’s important to properly clean and repair surfaces before you paint. Using a sponge or cloth, wipe down walls with mild detergent and water and allow them to dry. If walls have cracks, holes or other damage, apply spackling compound with a putty knife. Sand with fine-grit sandpaper once it dries.

Helpful Tip

If you need to make repairs, add an extra day to your plans to give the compound time to dry.

Step 2: Use the Right Primer and Paint

Use a high-quality primer such as True Value EasyCare Ultra Premium Interior Primer/Sealer and paint such as True Value EasyCare Ultra Premium Interior Paint. True Value EasyCare paint comes in a wide array of colors in durable flat, eggshell, satin, semi-gloss and high-gloss finishes. Your local True Value hardware store’s Certified Color Experts can answer any questions you have about paint and paint color, and point you in the right direction.

Helpful Tip

Use a semi-gloss or gloss paint finish in high traffic areas or areas that require frequent cleaning.

Safety Alert!

Always paint in a well-ventilated area. Open windows and doors or use an exhaust fan to remove fumes from your workspace.

Step 3: Pick the Right Brush/Applicator

Taking the time to select the appropriate brushes and rollers for the job can save you time and give you better results in the long run. The outcome of your paint job depends as much on the quality of your applicators as it does on the paint. Take into consideration brush bristle types when selecting brushes. If you’re using a roller applicator, the sign of a high-quality roller cover is fabric that has been stitched or sewn down. Also look for a roller cover with a thicker nap, which means it will hold more paint. For more detailed information see Paintbrush 101.

How to Fix Flaking or Peeling Paint

Flaking, peeling, blistering and cracking paint can occur with age, when moisture collects under a painted surface, or when paint is applied to a damp surface. Moisture enters the surface of wood or drywall from the unpainted side, gets absorbed then dries. This causes repeated swelling and shrinking of the surface, which makes the paint pull away, leaving it blistered, cracked or peeling. Locate any sources of moisture by checking the area around peeling paint. Excess heat and moisture can cause condensation that eventually leads to trouble in areas such as the bathroom or kitchen.

Over time, a layer of paint may simply become brittle and split. This creates hairline cracks on the surface layer which then become larger and cause the paint to flake or peel.

To fix this, remove all peeling or flaking paint with a paint scraper or wire brush. Next, sand the surface. You can rent or buy a disc sander with 60, 80 and 120-grit sanding discs. For very limited areas, use a random-orbit sander, hand sander or disc sander drill attachment. Begin sanding with a coarse abrasive and finish with a fine one. Pay particular attention to smoothing the edges between painted and scraped areas. This is called feathering. Painting will accentuate, not hide, any ridges and edges you leave.

When repainting, avoid using low-quality paint that has inadequate adhesion and flexibility. When painting, don’t spread it too thin during application. Use a primer before painting for better adhesion.

How to Remove Mildew

Mildew usually shows up in rooms like bathrooms and kitchens, especially in damp areas that don’t receive much sunlight. You will notice the telltale sign that mildew is present by its black, brown or gray spots on your painted walls.

If mildew is present, remove it by washing the surface with a mixture of water, Trisodium Phosphate (TSP), bleach and a stiff brush. Wash from the bottom to the top to avoid staining. Allow the surface to dry for at least two days before priming and repainting. Then use a high-quality primer with mildew protection. Follow that with at least two coats of quality latex paint, such as True Value EasyCare Ultra Premium Interior Paint.

Safety Alert!

Use TSP as directed by the manufacturer. TSP can corrode metal and damage finished wood. Be sure to wear protective eyewear, clothing and rubber gloves.

Helpful Tip

If mildew forms in your bathroom, consider installing an exhaust fan to help moisture escape from the room.

How to Prevent Cratering

Cratering happens when paint foams up and then the tiny bubbles break during application and drying. This is often caused by applying paint too quickly, shaking up paint before application, excessive brushing or rolling, or simply by using low-quality paint which is too thin when applied.

While some foam is to be expected when using any grade of paint, higher-quality paints are made to dry without excessive foaming. Use top-quality paints and apply them carefully. Take your time. Avoid shaking paint cans–stir them instead–and try not to thin out your paint coat with too many brush or roller strokes.

How to Fix Sagging or Dripping Paint

When paint sags or forms drips down the wall after painting, it can leave a shabby, uneven mess. This common problem is the result of applying too much paint, using paint that is too thin or painting in spaces that are too humid or too cool.

Helpful Tip

Try to keep the room in which you’re painting at a constant temperature, somewhere between 65 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit with moderate humidity. Painting in conditions outside these parameters can lead to any number of problems with your work.

If you notice any drips, drooping or sagging on any of your coats of paint, fix them immediately while the paint is still wet. Simply brush or roll out the excess paint to work it in with the rest of the coat. If the paint has already dried, just add another coat of paint to cover up the running drips. If you notice any glossy areas, lightly sand them with fine-grit sandpaper before applying the new coat for optimum adhesion.

How to Prevent Lap Marks or Hatbanding

Lap marks are another common problem that can mar an otherwise successful paint job. Lap marks happen when wet and dry paint layers aren’t blended together properly and start and stop points show. This often happens when you have to stop painting and then restart and the paint has dried before you get to painting the rest of the wall. Hatbanding or picture framing is a similar problem that occurs when you first paint around the edges of adjacent walls or the ceiling and then roll up to that line. Often, the cut-in sections are darker than the rest of the wall, producing an uneven finish.

To avoid either of these problems, keep a wet edge by painting toward the dry or unpainted area and then back into the freshly painted surface, so that there is no edge between the coats.

How to Prevent Adhesion (Blocking)

Adhesion or blocking often happens when you paint in a hurry. Doors and windows are the most common places where it occurs. Windows can sometimes be painted shut or doors can be stuck if there hasn’t been enough time for the painted door and jamb to dry. To solve the problem, simply give all surfaces enough time to dry before they are allowed to touch. Strictly adhere to your paint’s drying time as specified by the manufacturer. Test to see that the paint is completely dry before closing a door. Also, slow down, take your time and mask surfaces properly to get the job done right.

Good work! Now you’re ready for any of the common paint problems that can occur.

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