Common Paint Problems – Interiors

Burnishing

Increase in gloss or sheen of paint film when subjected to rubbing, scrubbing or having an object brush up against it.

Possible Causes:

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

Solution:

Paint heavy wear areas that require regular cleaning (e.g., doors, window sills and trim) with top quality Water Based paint, because this type of paint offers both durability and easier cleaning capability. In high traffic areas, choose a semi-gloss or gloss rather than a flat sheen level. Clean painted surfaces with a soft cloth or sponge and non-abrasive cleansers; rinse with clean water.

Cracking/Flaking:

The splitting of a dry paint film through at least one coat as a result of aging, which ultimately will lead to complete failure of the paint. In its early stages, the problem appears as hairline cracks; in its later stages, flaking occurs.

Possible Causes:

  • Use of lower quality paint that has inadequate adhesion and flexibility.
  • Over thinning or overspreading the paint.
  • Inadequate surface preparation or applying the paint to bare surface without applying a primer.
  • Excessive hardening of alkyd paint as the paint job ages.

Solution:

Remove loose and flaking paint with a scraper or wire brush, sanding the surface and feathering the edges. If the flaking occurs in multiple layers of paint, use of filler may be necessary. Prime bare surface areas before repainting. Use of a top quality primer and top coat should prevent  recurrence of the problem.

Foaming/Cratering:

Formation of bubbles (foaming) and resulting small, round concave depressions (cratering) when bubbles break in a paint film during paint application and drying.

Possible Causes:

  • Shaking a partially filled can of paint.
  • Use of low quality paint or very old latex paints. Applying (especially rolling) paint too rapidly.
  • Use of a roller cover with wrong nap length.
  • Excessive rolling or brushing of the paint.
  • Applying a gloss or semi gloss paint over a porous surface.

Solution:

All paints will foam to some degree during application; however, higher quality paints are formulated so the bubbles break while the paint is still wet, allowing for good flow and appearance. Avoid excessive rolling or brushing of the paint or using paint that is more than a year old. Apply gloss and semi-gloss paints with a short nap roller, and apply an appropriate sealer or primer before using such paint over a porous surface. Problem areas should be sanded before repainting.

Picture Framing:

An effect of non-uniform color that can appear when a wall is painted with a roller, but is brushed at the corners. The brushed areas generally appear darker, resembling the “frame” of a “picture.” Also, sprayed areas may be darker than neighboring sections that are brushed or rolled. Picture framing can also refer to sheen effects.

Possible Causes:

  • Usually a hiding (coverage) effect. Brushing will generally result in lower spread rates than rolling, producing a thicker film and more hiding.
  • Adding colorant to a non tintable paint or using the wrong type or level of colorant, resulting in variation in color, depending on method of application.

Solution:

Make sure that spread rates with brushes and rollers are similar. Don’t cut in the entire room before roller coating. Work in smaller sections of the room to maintain a “wet edge.” With tinted paints,make sure that correct colorant-base combinations are used. Factory colors, as well as in-store tints, should be thoroughly shaken at time of sale.

Poor Hiding:

Failure of dried paint to obscure or “hide” the surface to which it is applied.

Possible Causes:

  • Use of low quality paint.
  • Use of low quality tools/wrong roller cover.
  • Use of an improper combination of tinting base and tinting color.
  • Poor flow and leveling.
  • Use of a paint that is much lighter in color than the substrate or that primarily contains low-hiding organic pigments.
  • Application of paint at a higher spread rate than recommended.

Solution:

If the substrate is significantly darker or is a patterned wallpaper, it should be primed before applying a top coat. Use a top quality paint for better hiding and flow. Use quality tools. Use the recommended roller nap, if rolling. Follow manufacturer’s recommendation on spread rate. If using tinted paint, Use the correct tinting base. Where a low-hiding organic color must be used, apply a primer first.

Roller Marks:

Unintentional textured pattern left in the paint by the roller.

Possible Causes:

  • Use of incorrect roller cover.
  • Use of lower grades of paint.’
  • Use of low quality roller.
  • Use of incorrect rolling technique.

Solution:

Use the proper roller cover; avoid too long a nap for the paint and the substrate. Use quality rollers to ensure adequate film thickness and uniformity. High quality paints tend to roll on more evenly due to their higher solids content and leveling properties. Pre-dampen roller covers used with Water Based paint; shake out excess water. Don’t let paint build up at roller ends. 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.

Wrinkling:

A rough, crinkled paint surface, which occurs when uncured paint forms a “skin.”

Possible Causes:

  • Paint applied too thickly (more likely when using alkyd or oil-based paints).
  • Painting a hot surface or in very hot weather.
  • Exposure of uncured paint to rain, dew, fog or high humidity levels.
  • Applying top coat of paint to insufficiently dried first coat. Painting over contaminated surface (e.g., dirt or wax).

Solution:

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