Why Does Paint Crack – Painting Expert Explains

You may have painted a wall recently, only for it to start cracking for no obvious reason. This situation can be a big worry if the paint on the walls in other rooms is not cracking.

Why Does Paint Crack? Paint cracks when the surface was not prepared properly beforehand. Before painting, the target surface should be cleaned and smoothened out to ensure that the paint sticks to the surface correctly.

Painting experts at the Arizona Painting Company mention that paint cracks due to poor preparation of the surface. If the painted surface has dirt and cracks beforehand, it can lead to applied paint getting cracked early.

How Do You Keep Paint from Cracking?

You can keep paint from cracking by reducing the amount of water used in mixing paint. You can also prevent cracking by using high-quality paints and top-notch mediums.

The cracking of paint is a damaging phenomenon that occurs due to paint flaking off from its underlying structures. Proper application of paints can prevent underlying masonry, walls, ceilings, or structures from possible damage, leading to the long-term durability of the structures.

However, flaking of the paint is due to improper application of paint.

Prevention, they say, is better than cure. To prevent the cracking or flaking of paints from the onset, here are a few great practices.

  • Reduction of the amount of water

Binders, which are available as a liquid acrylic emulsion or gel are responsible for the binding property of the paint. The addition of too much water weakens the binding property of the binder and can result in cracking. Hence, no more than 30% of the water should be used in a paint mixture.

  • Addition of Mediums

If you desire to make your paint more fluid, instead of adding water, use mediums. Mediums are gels or liquids that have great binding quality but still add to the fluidity of the paint. The addition of water and a medium to the paint will add to its fluidity, which is the desired quality in paint and prevents cracking.

  • High-Quality Paints

It is always a great move to get high-quality paints from trustworthy brands. High-quality paints usually have more pigment than low-quality paints and thus, mediums can be added comfortably without reducing the color intensity of the paint. I recommend Zinsser All Surface Primer. Click here to view current pricing on Amazon.

As a final measure, ensure not to add varnish to your painted structure unless the paint has completely dried off.

I completed a study on the data found on various online renovation forums to determine what others are suggesting are ways to ensure that your new paint does not end up cracking:

How to ensure that paint does not crack
If adding caulk, only add thin lines since when it shrinks it can pull and create cracks in paint. I recommend the Saker Caulking Tool, click here to see the current pricing on Amazon.
Make sure that your primer is completely dry before adding the topcoat or the moisture in primer will cause cracking.
When painting a concrete outdoor surface, make sure to caulk the cracks or the paint will chip and crack due to the spacing created by the cracks in the concrete.
When caulking, make sure that it is completely dry before you paint over the caulking.

Is It Normal for New Paint to Crack?

Yes, it is normal for new paint to crack if it is not administered properly. The right product and the proper procedures need to be followed to ensure that paint stays on surfaces without cracking for extended periods.

A fresh coat of paint is a wonder for structures and furniture. However, it can be a disappointing nightmare when new paint starts to experience mishaps like cracking, peeling, and bubbling.

To prevent the cracking of paint, it is crucial to understand what causes paint cracks. Below are some of the reasons why your newly applied paint might get ruined fast.

  • Lack of Preparation

For the best results, there are some preliminary tasks that should be completed before the actual painting process. One such important task that often gets overlooked is preparing the surface that is to be painted. Proper preparation of the surface will ensure that the paints adhere well without cracking.

Preparation is also critical for a smooth painting procedure without hiccups. Before a surface is painted, you should ensure that the painting surface is free of dirt and debris. A clean painting surface will ensure that dirt and dust particles do not get sealed to the wall. Not only does sealed debris ruin the aesthetics of the painted surface, but it can also reduce the lifespan of the paint.

  • Low-Quality Paint Products

The lower the quality of the paint, the more likely it is for the paint to be less durable. Hence, lower-quality products are more likely to crack, even if they are still new. Before choosing and purchasing paint, you should ensure that you do your research and check out reviews about a product before choosing a brand to purchase.

  • Painting Errors

A common factor that contributes to the cracking of paint is committing errors while painting. Using the correct amount of paint is especially important for the success of a painting process. If too little or too much paint is used, cracking can occur quickly.

A good hack to prevent painting errors is to paint even thin layers until you see the tone result you are looking for. That way, you can avoid getting too much paint on the surface while also preventing underpainting of the surface.

  • Environmental Factors

Another plausible reason that your paint might seem to crack early is due to unfavorable environmental factors. Factors like the presence of excessive heat or moisture, or a combination of both can create the potential for the bubbling of paint, which could eventually lead to cracks.

Thus, when next you find your newly painted surface cracking, you can go through any of the possibilities mentioned above to find whichever factor might be responsible.

What Happens If You Paint Over a Cracked Surface? 

If you paint over a cracked surface, it can affect the quality and lifespan of the paint. Painting on a cracked surface can cause the surface to appear unattractive, and also lead to premature cracking of the new layer of paint.

When you paint over a cracked surface, the integrity of the outer layer will be compromised by the cracks underneath. The eventual result is sometimes called alligator paint because its appearance is like the scales on an alligator’s body.

Thus, when you have a cracked surface, instead of impulsively applying paint over a cracked surface, here are better steps to take.

  • Apply a high-quality primer

A primer is a liquid or gel that covers areas of a wall that have been patched. A primer also prevents stains from discoloring the new paint. In addition, a primer creates a surface that is uniform for your paint to bond onto. The more uniform the surface, the better the adhesion, and the longer lasting the paint job will be.

  • Consider using another paint type

If the initial layer of paint was done with a particular paint type, you should consider using a different paint type. For instance, if the first, cracked layer is an oil-based paint, the outer layer should be another, like water-based paint. Switching paint types makes the paint less prone to cracking as it ages.

Although, it is worth pointing out that alligator paint could result due to other factors besides painting on a cracked surface. Some of these include:

  • Application of coat of paint over an area not properly dry

The application of a new layer of paint over a layer of paint that has not completely dried could lead to the development of alligator paint.

  • Painting a flexible surface with a rigid painter

If a rigid paint like alkyd enamel is applied over a flexible material like latex, it could also result in a serious case of alligator paint.

  • Natural aging and weather conditions

Alligator paint could also be a result of natural aging and weather changes on the paint.

Why Does Paint Crack on Wood?

Paint cracks on wood if the paint used is of inferior quality or if it is not applied properly. Also, you might experience paint cracking on wood if it is exposed to unfavorable weather conditions.

Getting paint cracks on wood can be prevented by following the right procedure. Paint cracks on wooden furniture often ruin the appearance and aesthetics of the furniture. Wood cracks often start as hairline cracks, slowly becoming bigger, and getting worse if they are not fixed immediately.

When the paint on your wooden furniture cracks, here are some reasons why.

  • Use of low-quality paint

Low-quality paint leads to low adhesion and flexibility. There is a high possibility that the cracks in your paint are a result of a low-quality choice of paint. A quick and effective method to avoid getting paint cracks on your wooden furniture is to avoid using low-quality paints.

  • A thin layer of paint

It is advisable to apply your paints to your wooden surface in several thin layers. However, if you stop the painting of wood before the appropriate layers of paint have been applied you could experience early cracking of paint on your wooden furniture.

  • Improper preparation of Wooden surface

Lack of prior preparation of wooden surfaces before the application of paint is a common factor that contributes to the cracking of paint. If you do not smoothen the wooden surface and apply a primer before painting, it could trigger the early cracking of paint.

  • Weather Conditions

If the weather is either too hot or too dry, the paint applied to wood can dry too fast. Weather is thus a natural phenomenon that could potentially lead to the cracking of paint on wood.

  • Incompatibility of Finishing with the Wood

If the first finishing is not compatible with the wood, paint applied to the wood can crack prematurely. It is advisable to always seek an expert’s advice before purchasing any paint, varnish, prime, etc.

By knowing the above factors that can cause cracking, there are corresponding preventive measures that can stop cracking from happening in the first place are. Here are a few of them:

  • Use high-quality paint and finish.
  • Ensure that the applied paint layer is not too thin.
  • Seek expert advice in ensuring that the applied paint is compatible with the wood.

Why Does Paint Crack on a Ceiling?

Paint cracks on a ceiling when the building is getting old or if the paint type is incompatible with the ceiling. Also, it could be because moisture is seeping into the ceiling.

When paint cracks in a ceiling, it can be an unattractive mess that could affect the appearance of your home. The common causes of paint cracks in ceilings, and how to fix them are explained below.

  • Moisture

A common cause of paint cracks in the ceiling is moisture. Moisture sometimes leaks from the attic and slowly permeates the ceiling. This moisture adds to the water content of your paint, and as explained earlier, excess moisture in paint is a key factor that leads to the cracking of paint on any surface.

Leaking moisture from the attic is a significant issue because apart from potentially damaging the paint on the ceiling, it can also lead to the growth of mold. Mold looks bad, smells bad, and can have unpleasant effects on some people, such as allergies.

In summary, it is important to prevent leakage in the attic. A good way to do so is by having your attic properly insulated. Insulation provides a moisture barrier that will keep your ceiling, and entire building dry regardless of the weather.

  • Incompatible Paint

Another common cause of paint cracks in ceilings is the use of paints not compatible with your ceiling material, for instance using oil-based paint on a latex material would lead to cracking of the ceiling’s paint. An effective way to avoid this problem is to consult a professional when purchasing paint.

The above practices are good safety measures to prevent paint cracks in the ceiling. However, if the damage is already done, below are corrective measures to take:

  • Patch cracked ceiling paint
  • Repaint the entire room/ceiling

Here is a video that explains how to fix paint that is peeling on a ceiling:

Why Does Paint Crack on Walls?

Paint cracks on walls if the surface has not been prepared sufficiently before painting. Other reasons that lead to cracks are overpainting and underpainting of a wall.

It is common to see houses that have cracked paint on their walls, both on the interior and exterior. In general, it is almost inevitable for a wall’s paint to crack as the paint will start to degrade when it has been on a wall for long enough.

However, there are mistakes that people make that cause the paint to crack earlier than necessary. Below are some of the common causes of paint cracks on walls:

  • Insufficient surface preparation.
  • Applying paint layer too thinly.
  • Not allowing adequate dry time between coats.
  • Natural aging.

To repair paint cracks in walls, you could:

  • Remove all paint cracks with a scraper, wire brush, heat gun, or chemical application.
  • Repaint problem spots, ensuring to load the roller properly to avoid overapplying or underapplying paint.

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Aron Blake

I am the lead copywriter on Homezesty and the Webmaster. I have a lot of experience in home renovations and the creation of style. I enjoy writing and sharing my tips on how to create the best living environment. My Linkedin Profile, My Twitter Account

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