House Paint Tips: Fixing Exterior Paint Problems

All exterior paint problems are correctable—find the right solution here. This section lists a variety of common paint problems. To find the exterior paint tips you need to remedy the issue, simply select the problem from the list below.

Note: Images provided by The Rohm & Hass Paint Quality Institute.

Alligatoring

Surface imperfections on the paint film have the appearance of an alligator hide.

Nailhead Rusting

Nailhead rusting appears as reddish-brown stains on the paint surface.

Blistering

Bubbles appear on the surface of the paint resulting from localized loss of adhesion and lifting of the paint film from the underlying surface.

Paint Incompatibility

Paint incompatibility causes the loss of adhesion between coats were old coats of alkyd-based paint was painted over with latex.

Chalking

Chalking occurs when the paint film decomposes into a loose powder on the surface. Some degree of chalking is normal, but excessive film erosion can result in heavy chalking.

Poor Alkali Resistance

Poor alkali resistance can cause color loss and overall deterioration of paint film on fresh masonry.

Chalk Run-Down

Chalking occurs when the paint film decomposes into a loose powder on the surface. Some degree of chalking is normal, but excessive film erosion can result in heavy chalking.

Poor Galvanized Metal Adhesion

This occurs when paint has lost its adhesion to a galvanized metal substrate.

Cracking or Flaking

Cracking or flaking is the splitting of a dry paint film through at least one coat, which can lead to the complete failure of the paint.

Poor Gloss Retention

Poor gloss retention causes a rapid loss of gloss in the topcoat.

Dirt Pickup

This exterior paint problem occurs when dirt, dust particles, or other debris accumulates on the paint film. This may resemble mildew.

Surfactant Leaching

Surfactant leaching is a concentration of water-soluble ingredients in latex paint leaching out to the paint surface, often creating a brownish blotchy or shiny appearance.

Efflorescence or Mottling

Efflorescence or mottling is crusty, white mineral salt deposits. These can leach out to the surface on mortar, concrete, or masonry surfaces.

Tannin Staining

Tannin staining appears as a brownish or tan discoloration on the paint surface from wood tannins migrating from the substrate through the paint film.

Fading or Poor Color Retention

Premature or excessive fading of color often occurs on exterior surfaces facing southern and western exposures.

Vinyl Siding Warp

Vinyl siding warps or buckles after it has been repainted.

Frosting

Frosting is a white, salt-like discolored substance on the paint surface. It is most noticeable on dark tints.

Wax Bleeding on Hardboard Siding

The paint is discolored by waxy components found in wood products.

Lap Marks

Lapping is the appearance of a denser color or higher gloss where wet and dry layers overlap during painting.

Wrinkling

Wrinkling manifests as a rough, crinkled surface that occurs when paint forms a "skin."

Mildew

Mildew appears as black, gray, or brown spots or areas on the paint film or caulk bead.