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An exterior paint job is an extensive and quite laboursome undertaking, but once the whole project is done, you can enjoy your home’s new look for years to come. In order to keep your home’s exterior looking amazing, there are a few common exterior paint problems you should keep an eye out for so you can address and repair them before they escalate.

Some imperfections are not as serious as others. Although you don’t have to worry about every tiny ding on the surface of your home, there are some issues that should not be left unchecked and ignored. Let’s take a look at the top 9 most common problems you may encounter as well as easy ways to take care of them right away.

1. Peeling

One of the most common problems you can encounter when working with exterior paint is peeling paint, which can become quite an extensive problem if left unattended. 

Contributing factors:

There are a few different factors that may cause your exterior paint to start peeling overtime. 

Those include the use of low-quality paint, painting on an unprepared surface, constant exposure of the outside elements such as rain, wind and sun exposure as well as radical changes in temperature. All of these conditions can cause your exterior paint to peel, and while you cannot control all factors, especially the outside elements, there are a few ways that you can use to fix this problem and even prevent it from occurring in the first place.

How to prevent or fix the issue:

Once your paint starts to peel, you need to act fast so you can stop the problem from spreading to the surrounding areas. There are a few steps you can take in such cases:

  • Use a putty knife or a scraper to take off any loose paint

  • Sand the edges so you can have a nice and smooth surface to work on

  • Clean the area from dust and debris using a damp rug

  • Apply primer and paint (pro tip: always buy extra paint when your painting your entire house so that you can have it handy when touching up spots later on)

No matter the quality, all brands and types of paint have a certain lifespan and can last you a certain amount of time, before they start to peel off. And while you can’t prevent this issue from occurring, there are ways in which you can postpone it.

By taking proper precaution during the painting process and following a regular maintenance routine, you can extend your exterior paint’s lifespan up to a few years. Make sure you follow all steps when prepping and painting your home so that you can have a longer-lasting result.

2. Alligatoring

Alligatoring is a common exterior paint problem in which the surface of the paint starts developing a cracked pattern which resembles the skin of an alligator. 

Contributing factors:

There are several reasons why this might occur.

The main ones include applying the second coat of paint before the first one has fully dried, or applying it over an incompatible surface, such as glossy paint over latex-based paint. This occurrence is also common in oil-based paints which have aged and lost their elasticity, making room for cracks to form.

How to prevent or fix the issue:

The only way to reduce the chance of developing this issue is to use high-quality latex paint. If you’ve already noticed cracks forming on your home’s exterior that resemble this common exterior paint problem, you will need to take care of that section of your home right away, to stop the cracks from spreading furthermore. To do that you’ll need to follow the same steps we mentioned in the previous section. Those include scraping, sanding, priming and repainting. 

3. Blistering

Blistering is another common problem homeowners have to deal with when it comes to exterior paint jobs. It presents itself in small to medium blisters on the surface, most commonly on wood siding and trim.

Contributing factors:

There are several causes for this issue.

Some of the most common ones include:

  • Applying the paint on a very hot day under direct sunlight, which causes the solvent vapour to get trapped under the paint

  • Applying paint on a damp surface

  • Improper home ventilation which led moisture to escape through the walls

  • Rain, dew or high humidity levels caused water to get trapped under the paint after it had dried

How to prevent or fix the issue:

To prevent this issue from occurring use high-quality latex paint, and follow all the steps of the process, making sure you prep the surface property. Work only when the weather conditions are just right.

4. Sagging or Running

This is yet another common exterior paint problem and it’s characterized with a dripping appearance. 

Contributing factors:

There are several causes for this issue.

Some of the most common ones include:

- Applying coats of paint that are too thick and heavy 

- Using a lot more paint thinner than necessary

- Painting under bad weather conditions such as very humid and cool conditions

- Painting over an improperly prepared surface or straight onto a high-gloss surface, without priming first

How to prevent or fix the issue:

The only ways to prevent this issue from occurring include:

  • Applying thinner coats of paint 

  • Fixing any running or sagging paint while it’s still wet, using a brush or a roller 

  • Always painting on a clean and properly prepared surface and

  • Making sure you distribute the paint equally and evenly

If the paint is already dry when you notice the problem, there is one simple thing you can do to fix it. That includes sanding or scrapping off the sagging part of the paint and repainting that area.

5. Efflorescence

Efflorescence is a common paint problem that mostly occurs on plasterwork, brickwork, and other concrete structures. The issue is easy to identify due to the appearance of crusty salt-like deposits that form on the surface of the walls. Efflorescence occurs due to moisture in the building material that dissolves the salts present in the structure and leaks them to the surface where they form drip marks or steady patches.

Contributing factors:

The main reasons why this issue appears include:

- Poor workmanship and poor construction technique

- A source of moisture that has been left untreated and unattended

- Painting over an improperly prepared surface or straight onto prior efflorescence, without removing it first

- Water penetration in walls due to inadequate waterproofing

How to prevent or fix the issue:

The best ways to prevent this issue from occurring in the first place include:

  • Locating and addressing any possible problems with moisture or water damage that are present in your home

  • Keeping your home well ventilated

If you already have this problem and you’re looking for ways to fix it, here are a few things you can try:

  • Scrub the affected areas using a trisodium phosphate cleaning solution and rinse it off with water. Once completely dry, you can repaint using high-quality latex house paint. Don’t use vinegar or plain water to wash off the slats. That way they’ll simply get dissolved and reabsorbed into the wall, which can cause the problem to reoccur later on.

  • Make sure to eliminate any source of water or moisture.

6. Chalking

Chalking is a common paint defect that can be very detrimental if left untreated. The easiest way to identify this problem is to look for a chalky, white powder formation on the surface of your exterior paint. Chalking is an unavoidable problem when it comes older paint that’s been subjected to the outside elements for a longer period of time, but it can also occur in other situations.

Contributing factors:

The main reasons why this issue appears include:

- Using low-quality paint with high levels of pigment extenders

- Using paint that’s not suitable for exterior walls

- Using more paint thinner than necessary

- Inadequate prep of the surface, leaving some porous surfaces unsealed

How to prevent or fix the issue:

The best ways to prevent this issue from occurring or at least postpone it is to:

  • Apply paint over a fully dried surface

  • Sand and seal cracks and other porous surfaces

  • Remove any dust or dirt before you apply the paint

  • Make sure you sand the surface first if you’re applying your paint over a coat of glossy paint 

7. Mildew

Mildew can grow on almost all surfaces provided that the right conditions are present. To identify the problem, you need to look for white, grey, or yellow spots on the surface of the paint or caulk.

Contributing factors:

Here are some of the main reasons that cause mildew to form on your exterior walls:

- Poor ventilation, moisture and lack of direct sunlight

- Using paint that doesn’t have mould and mildew inhibitors

- Applying paint over spots that have not been properly treated for mildew

- Painting bare wood without priming it first

How to prevent or fix the issue:

To prevent this issue from occurring you should always opt for high-quality paint with adequate mildewcide and make sure the surface you’re painting is free of mildew or has been properly treated to get rid of mildew before you start panting.

If you weren’t able to prevent the problem from occurring, the easiest way to deal with this issue is to follow these few simple steps:

  • Use a solution of 1 part bleach to 3 parts water to scrub the surface of the wall where mildew is present, let the solution sit for about 15 minutes, then use clean water to rinse off the area. 

  • Apply a coat of high-quality exterior paint once the surface is completely dry. If there’s any bare or exposed wood, make sure to prime first before applying a coat of paint.

8. Rust staining

Rust staining is an easily identifiable exterior paint issue that’s characterized by rusty, reddish-looking stains and paint discolouration.

Contributing factors:

Some of the main factors that contribute to this issue include:

- Rusty nails and screws that have corroded over time due to constant exposure of the elements and have started to bleed through the topcoat

- Rusty nail heads that have corroded due to sanding

How to prevent or fix the issue:

To prevent this issue from occurring make sure you caulk over non-galvanized nails as well as remove any rusty nails and screws as part of your prep. 

When it comes to repairing rust stains and discolouration you will need to first wash off the stain, then sand the surface so you can prep it for repainting and once everything’s ready simply apply a new coat of paint.

9. Cracking and flaking

Cracking, clumping and flaking are common problems with both exterior and interior paint and can strike a variety of surfaces including wood, plaster, and so on. Once small cracks appear on the surface of your exterior walls, you need to start implementing the appropriate measures to take care of the problem, so it doesn’t end up spreading and deepening to the point where you’ll need to repaint your entire home.

Contributing factors:

The main factors that can cause this issue to arise include:

- Insufficient prep

- Applying your paint too thinly

- Not allowing enough time for the paint to dry properly before you apply a second coat

- Constant fluctuations in temperature and humidity levels

- Aging 

How to prevent or fix the issue:

If you want to prevent such issues from arising in the first place, make sure to properly prep the surface you’re working on so that the paint can adhere properly and stand against the outside elements better. 

However, if you’re already dealing with this issue and are looking for ways to fix it so it doesn’t spread, here’s what you’ll need to do.

  • Scrape of any flaking or cracked paint

  • Sand the edges so that you can have a smooth surface area for the paint to adhere to better

  • Repaint problem spots as soon as you notice them

  • Prime any exposed wood before painting