How to Fix 5 Common Exterior Paint Problems

Damaged Paint

damaged paint


Home exterior paint doesn’t always have hoped-for durability. There are many possible causes of problems when it comes to exterior paint. If any of the following occurs to the paint on your home, repair is needed.



Chalking is a common occurrence caused by the decomposing of paint film into a powdery substance on the surface. This is actually a normal and preferable way for paint film to deteriorate. Excessive erosion, however, can result in heavy chalking, depending on the kind of paint that was used. Highly pigmented, lower-quality, or interior paint used on the exterior are all reasons paint erodes, resulting in chalking.

How to fix paint chalking:

Use a stiff bristle brush to remove as much chalk residue as possible, and rinse with a garden hose. Another option is to power wash the surface. Once dry, check to see if there is any remaining chalk by swiping your hand across the surface. If there is still a noticeable amount of chalking, apply an acrylic or oil-based latex primer. If little to no chalk remains, no priming is necessary. In either scenario, repaint using a high-quality exterior paint.

Cracking/ Flaking

Exterior paint cracks and flakes, exposing the substrate, for several reasons. Using a lower-quality exterior paint that lacks adequate flexibility and adhesion is one cause. Paint spread too thin on the surface is another common reason for cracking and flaking. If the surface isn’t properly prepared with needed primer, the problem can occur. When paint dries too quickly because of windy or cool conditions, cracking can be a result.

How to fix paint cracking and flaking:

If the paint damage hasn’t begun exposing the substrate, it’s possible to correct the problem by brushing or scraping the flaking, loose paint, sanding affected areas, and then priming and repainting bare spots. If the substrate has been affected, all paint must be removed by scraping and sanding or use of a heat gun. (Warning:  When using a heat gun, it’s possible to ignite substrate or paint. Use extreme care.) Afterwards, apply primer and a high-quality exterior paint.


When the surface of exterior paint film cracks in a way that resembles alligator scales, the paint problem is referred to as “alligatoring.” This unattractive development sometimes occurs because:

  • The topcoat of the paint is applied before the undercoat is completely dry.
  • An extremely rigid, hard coating of paint, such as alkyd enamel, is applied over latex primer or some other type of more flexible coating.
  • Constant expansion and contraction of naturally aging oil-based paints in constantly fluctuating temperatures can result in loss of elasticity in the paint film.

How to fix paint alligatoring:

Scrape and sand the surface until the existing oil paint is completely removed. To speed up the work on large surfaces, you can use a heat gun. Once all of the old paint is gone, prime the surface with a high-quality oil-based or latex primer. Finally, paint with a high-quality exterior latex paint.


Chalking of the paint coating can cause poor color retention or fading. Painting with a lower quality exterior paint or an interior grade paint usually results in fading. If a white paint not intended for tinting is tinted, fading will occur. Certain paint colors tend to fade more quickly than others because they are more vulnerable to UV rays, including some bright blues, yellows, and reds.

How to fix paint fading:

When poor color retention or fading occur because of chalking, it becomes necessary to remove as much chalk as possible. When repainting, use high-quality exterior paint in colors that are recommended.


Dealing With MildewMildew is common in damp areas or those that receive little to no direct sunlight. The formation of mildew can result from any of the following:

  • Painting a bare wood surface without first applying a coat of primer.
  • Failing to remove mildew before painting.
  • Painting with a lower-quality exterior paint, such as alkyd, oil-based paint.

How to fix mildew problems:

  • Scrub the surface with one part bleach and three parts water. Be sure to wear eye protection and rubber gloves. Rinse thoroughly.
  • To help prevent mildew, use a top-quality latex paint; and, when necessary, clean with a bleach/detergent solution. On areas where there is high moisture, consider installing an exhaust fan.

The exterior paint on your home serves many important functions, such as protecting the substrate, helping to prevent termite damage, and increasing curb appeal. It’s best to address paint problems early, for these reasons and more.

Schedule our paint professionals for all interior and exterior paint projects, to decrease the likelihood of future paint problems.


Scroll to Top