Solving Your Paint Problems: Cracking & Flaking

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Solving Your Paint Problems: Cracking & Flaking Articles

Solving Your Paint Problems: Cracking & Flaking

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What is cracking?

Cracking is a problem that may occur to your painted surface, and occurs when dried, brittle paint starts to split. If you notice cracking starting to happen on any painted surface, it is important to act quickly as aside from being visibly unappealing, when left untreated can worsen over time and cause the paint to start flaking.

What is flaking?

Flaking occurs after your painted surface has begun to crack and moisture has seeped through the cracks and breaks down the adhesion bond.

What causes cracking and flaking to occur?

Cracking, and in turn flaking, are some of the more common paint problems that can occur after a paint project has been completed, and can be caused by a few different reasons:

The paint is old and needs replacing

Nothing lasts forever, even our much loved paint projects! Paint will naturally decay over time due to weather and wear & tear, and sometimes it’s just time for a new coat!

Using a lower quality or incorrect topcoat paint

We all love a bargain, but often there is a reason cheap paints are so cheap! Cheaper paints are often lower quality, and may not bond to the prepcoat as well. They may also not have the levels of flexibility that premium paints have, and therefore do not adjust with changing conditions causing the paint to crack.

It’s also important to ensure the topcoat you are using is suitable for the surface being painted. Using an interior paint on an exterior surface can cause premature cracking as it is not designed to withstand the same conditions as exterior paint.

Poor surface preparation

It is important to ensure the surface you are painting is prepped properly. The topcoat will not be able to achieve good adhesion to the surface if no prepcoat is used; and the same goes for making sure that the prepcoat used is suitable to the surface you are painting. For example, a prepcoat designed for timber is not suitable to use on plasterboard. 

It’s also vital to make sure the prepcoat has reached its dry time, and is not exposed to weather conditions or UV lights during the dry period as prepcoats can be compromised due to them not being designed to withstand these conditions.

Poor weather conditions during the paint project

It’s important to make sure that paint projects are completed during the optimum weather conditions. Exposing a paint project to high humidity both during the application and during the drying/curing period means the water solvent in the paint is unable to evaporate due to the higher levels of moisture being present in the air.

Unavoidable changes to the substrate

Wood surfaces may have experienced swelling due to moisture, and then contracts as it dries. This change in the substrate can have the paint expand with the substrate, however there may not be enough flexibility in the paint to expand without cracking.

So my paint is cracked and flaking, how can I fix it?

Once you have noticed your paint is cracking, it’s important to “get cracking” and fix the problem! Letting the cracked paint sit and get worse over time will eventually lead to the paint flaking, which occurs when moisture has soaked into the lower coating or the substrate through the cracks.

Dealing with flaking and cracking is a similar process.  You will need to remove the cracking paint by scraping or sanding the paint away.  Prior to prepping the surface, perform a cross-hatch adhesion test to ensure there hasn’t been damaged to the substrate. If your substrate is not damaged, you will then need to prep the area again with a good quality prepcoat before using a quality topcoat. Make sure you are painting in prime weather conditions to prevent any cracking issues from further occurring.  If the substrate seems to be damaged, drop tools and head into your nearest Inspirations Paint store for advice!

How can I make sure my paint doesn’t crack and flake again?

While a common issue, cracked paint is an easy problem to avoid by following these guidelines:

- Ensure the substrate you are painting has been properly cleaned and prepped with the appropriate products
- Follow the manufacturer’s application guidelines; including spreading rate, dry time and curing time.
- Avoid painting in adverse weather conditions where excess moisture will affect the application and drying process.
- Don’t use oil based paints on exterior surfaces, as they are more brittle than water based paint and therefore more prone to cracking.

Chat to the team of experts!

If you are unsure about completing a DIY project or have a cracking and flaking issue that you need to get sorted, head into your nearest Inspirations Paint store to chat to our friendly teams who are waiting to help you with your next project! They are armed full of advice for the best products and techniques to get your project sorted.

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