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13 Common paint problems solved!

13 Common paint problems solved!
Peeling paint? Blistering? Mould? Stains? Whatever your paint problems we know how to resolve it!

To avoid future paint issues always prepare

The main causes of paint breaking down are incompatible paints being applied on top of one another, poor preparation of the surface, damp or trapped moisture, grease, rot or rust.

When paint starts to flake 

The paint has not been keyed to the surface, which may be too smooth (as with old gloss paint) or may be chalky (as with untreated distemper). Alternatively, rotting timber may be pushing the paint off or rust may have formed underneath.
  • Strip small areas by rubbing with fine abrasive paper, fill with a fine surface filler, apply a primer and repaint.
  • Larger areas must be completely stripped and prepared again from scratch.

When paint blisters 

Prick a blister - if water emerges, damp is trapped under the paint or is finding its way in from behind.
  • Strip the blistered paint with a hot-air gun and leave the wood until it has dried.
  • Prime the surface and then repaint the whole of the repaired area.

Crazing (sometimes called orange peel)

When a paint surface breaks up like mini crazy paving, incompatible paints have been used. The top layer of paint breaks up because it expands at a different rate from the one underneath.
  • Usually, you must strip the paint with chemicals or a hot-air gun and start again.
  • Rub down very small areas - no more than a few centimetres square with a flexible sanding pad or with wet-and-dry paper damped with water.
  • When the surface is smooth, fill the stripped area with a fine surface filler, prime and repaint.

Visible under-color 

Liquid gloss does not have good covering power, so always use undercoat to hide a strong colour.
  • Put on another layer of topcoat, but switch to a one-coat paint, which has more body and covering power.


Too much paint applied in a thick coat results in runs that are hard to disguise.
  • If the paint is still wet, brush out runs; but not if the paint has started to dry. Instead, wait until it is completely dry and then rub down with very fine abrasive paper until the surface is smooth.
  • Clean with a damp rag.
  • Apply a new thin topcoat.


Stains occur when water in emulsion activates impurities in a wall; areas rubbed with a wire brush or wire wool develop rust stains; or deposits in an unlined flue come through the paint surface.
  • Prevent stains by applying an aluminium primer-sealer before you start painting.
  • If the problem occurs afterwards, brush a primer-sealer over the stain and then repaint.

Mould and discoloration 

Spores settling on paintwork that is damp—possibly due to condensation—often lead to mould patches.
  • Treat the affected area with a fungicide as directed by the manufacturer, wash the surface clean, let it dry and then repaint.

Loss of gloss sheen 

Gloss paint will sink into the surface and lose its shine if the surface was not primed—or if either primer or undercoat was not left to dry completely.
  • Rub down with damp wet-and-dry abrasive paper.
  • Brush off the dust and wipe with a clean, damp rag, then apply a new topcoat.

Wrinkled paint 

Usually caused by applying a second coat of paint before the first has dried. Solvents in the wet paint underneath attack the second coat when they try to pass through it and make it wrinkle.
  • Strip the paint with a chemical stripper or heat and redecorate, this time allowing each coat to dry before applying the next.

Gritty paint surface 

If a newly painted surface feels rough and gritty, paint has been applied with a dirty brush or has become contaminated by the surrounding areas. Or there may have been bits of skin in the paint.
Always paint with clean brushes and use a paint kettle. Strain old paint through a paint strainer or a pair of tights. Use a paint shield or piece of card to guard against picking up dirt from a floor.
  • When a gritty surface is dry, rub down with a damp wet-and-dry abrasive paper until it is smooth, wipe clean, then apply a new coat of paint.

Dark patches on painted wood 

Knots in wood which have not been sealed before you decorate may ooze resin when the sun warms them, and the resin will force its way through the paint film.
  • Strip paint away with the edge of a scraper blade, then with fine abrasive paper to expose the knot.
  • Brush knotting over the area to seal it, leave it to dry and repaint.

If paint will not dry 

The room is badly ventilated or very cold.
  • Open all the windows and doors or put a heater in the room.
  • If this does not solve the problem, the paint has been applied to a dirty—and probably greasy—surface.
  • Strip it off with chemical stripper or heat and start again, taking great care to clean the surface thoroughly.

Insects on painted surface 

If you can, remove insects that get stuck to fresh paint while the paint is still wet and touch up the surface with a brush and new paint. If the paint has started to dry, wait until it has set hard and then brush away the insects—they make less of a mess that way.
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