Solving Common Problems
Most common interior painting problems are the consequence of poor preparation. Paint adheres to clean, dry surfaces.
For more information and instructions, see Prepping Ceiling and Walls, Prepping Trim and Woodwork and Priming Interiors. Here's the run-down on common interior paint problems and solutions.

When a quality paint cracks or peels from an interior surface, there are normally one of two causes:

  • Excessive glossiness of the underlying surface.
  • A dirty surface or a surface contaminated with sanding dust.


1: Remove all the paint that is not adhering.
2: Dull the glossiness by lightly sanding. Don't forget to clean off the sanding residue.
3: Clean the surface of any contaminants.
4: Prime the surface with a quality primer.

Unsightly water stains are commonly the result of water in the substrate behind the paint film. Certain materials, such as ceiling tiles, contain water-soluble extractives that will leach through the paint, creating dark brown water spots


1: Identify the source of the moisture —such as a roof leak —and repair it.
2: Next, apply a specialty stain blocking primer to keep the water spot from continuing to bleed through. These primers are available in solvent and water based formulations.
3: Finally, paint the surface with an acrylic latex paint.


Picture framing, or hat banding, is used to describe the effect of visible horizontal and vertical lines around the corners and sides of walls.

The problem occurs when too much time lapses between "cutting in" around the borders and rolling paint on the rest of the wall.


1: Keep a wet edge while painting: Cut in or trim a section of one wall and then roll it while the paint is still wet
2: Use the same technique on the remaining walls
3: If the condition already exists and needs to be corrected, the only option is to repaint the surface as suggested above

Mildew is actually a mold growth that thrives in warm moist areas, such as a bathroom. It is usually green or gray in color and can look like dirt.
The challenge is that mildew cannot be removed or killed with plain soap and water.

Mildew-resistant coatings do not kill mildew. Mildew must be killed before you paint over it, or it will continue to grow.


1: To remove mildew or suspected mildew, scrub well before painting using a commercial mildew remover or a solution of one part liquid chlorine bleach to three parts water. Rinse thoroughly. Avoid contact with skin or eyes.
2: Choose a finish, which gives mildew resistant coatings.

Mud cracking appears as tiny hairline cracks in the painted surface, similar to the look of cracked mud in a dry river bed or the fine irregular cracked pattern in old porcelain.

The problem can occur when applying paint too heavily or painting when the air or surface temperature is too cold.

Solving this problem depends upon the severity of the mud cracking:

  • If it is only a surface appearance problem, coat the area with a primer
  • If the surface has a texture or looks like it is beginning to peel, scrape the surface with a putty knife to remove cracked paint or sand the cracked area to get an even surface
  • Apply a coat of primer before painting


If you can see the surface or previous color through the paint film, the condition is poor hide.

Cause: There are generally three causes for poor paint hide:

  • Inferior paint quality
  • Use of cheap brushes and rollers
  • Overspreading of the paint beyond its recommended spread rate


1: Premium quality paints with adequate quantities of good hiding pigments will yield excellent hide, and will do so with fewer coats for similar colors
2: Use quality brushes and rollers, specific for the kind of paint and surface you are painting
3: Follow label instructions on coverage and adjust for surface porosity—a porous surface will absorb paint at an uneven rate
4: Dramatic color changes benefit from a specialty primer like a high hiding primer.
5: Bare wood and drywall should be sealed with a primer before painting

Paints with a degree of sheen (i.e., satin, semi-gloss and gloss) may appear inconsistent in terms of sheen level, when they are applied over surfaces of inconsistent porosity, such as certain wood surfaces (e.g., paint grade molding) or drywall.


The solution to poor sheen uniformity is to apply the primer type recommended for the substrate being painted; in doing so, it will seal the surface so that porosity is consistent over the entire area to be painted. A high-quality paint is recommended in order to achieve the best look.

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