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Solving Common Exterior Paint Problems

By on July 9, 2018

Paints can do wonders to improve the appearance of your home. But did you know that it can also benefit its value while protecting it from damage from moisture, ultra-violet and even structural pests?

Unfortunately, many homeowners fail to realize that exterior painting is generally more complicated than interior painting due to the various environmental conditions to which a home’s exterior is subject. Paint problems may arise more often than you think. However, these problems come with easy solutions that every homeowner can do. With proper research and information, you can solve these top 5 most common exterior paint problems:

Problem: Blistering Paint

Blistering paint is identified by small- to medium-sized bubbles or blisters under the paint film and is most common on wood siding and trim. It is most likely caused by painting under direct heat or on a hot surface, which consequently traps solvent vapor as the paint dries too quickly. Moreover, it can also be a result of putting layers of paint on damp surface, trapping moisture in between. Low quality latex paints can also be the culprit.


Scrape away blistered paint, and sand to bare wood and leave it to completely dry. It would also be helpful if you avoid painting it under direct sunlight and use high-quality latex paint.

If due to lack of home ventilation, corrective repairs must be made to properly ventilate the home’s walls, roof, and eaves, bathrooms, etc.

Problem: Alligatoring and Checking

“Alligatoring” is a term coined for problematic exterior paint for its “reptile skin” appearance. “Checking”, on the other hand, is less severe and is characterized by long, fairly evenly spaced cracks in the paint film having shallow relief or depth. Occasionally checking may become severe in some areas, leading to a deeper crack or split in the paint.

There are many probable causes of Alligatoring and Checking: It may be caused by premature application of second coat of paint over undried first coat or primer, the coats are incompatible (glossy paint or a hard oil enamel over a latex-based paint), or perhaps because oil paints may lose its elasticity which leads to cracks caused by fluctuations in temperature.


Remove the old paint, then sand, prime and repaint with flexible latex based paint and use high quality latex paints.

Problem: Sagging or Running

This paint failure is easily identified as a dripping or drooping look to areas of the paint film. This may be because of a heavy application of paint coats. However, the environment can also play a part. If the paint was applied in poor environmental conditions, such as when temperatures were too cool or when humidity was too high.


If you catch the paint while still wet, use a brush or roller to redistribute the excessive paint evenly. However, if it has dried, you can sand the uneven area and lightly reapply paint.

Problem: Mildew

Mildew is a fungus that feeds and grows on the paint film or caulk and is identifiable by its gray, brown, green or dark black “splotchy” spots. It can be caused by moisture, poor ventilation and lack of direct sunlight. Not priming bare wood before painting can also lead to mildew growth on surface.


Homeowners can scrub vigorously with a trisodium phosphate cleaning solution or a household bleach solution of 1-part bleach to 3 parts water. This DIY solution is effective is killing the mildew’s roots and not just eliminate them from the surface. Let the solution set on the cleaned are for 10-15 minutes then rinse with water. Wash the area with a detergent solution and rinse again.

It is important that you wear protective gear before cleaning the mildew.

Problem: Rust Discoloration

This problem is characterized by rust-colored, reddish-brown to black stains on the paint surface. It can be caused by a number of various reasons and factors such as rusting nails, excessive weathering or sanding has worn away galvanized coating on nail heads, or the chemical reaction of Tannic acid from moist wood with steel nails.


If possible, replace steel nails with galvanized or stainless steel nails. Prevention is still better than cure in this case. However, if they are rusting already and can’t be removed, then remove rust by sanding nail heads to bare metal and countersink.

To protect the paint, prime the surface with a stain-blocking, rust-inhibiting primer and use high quality paint.



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