Here are tips and suggestions on how to correct common paint problems. Homeowners all over the country experience these types of problems. Take the time to read the instructions carefully and follow them and you can correct many of the paint problems around your home.

Nail heads can rust and create spots on painted surfaces in your home. This problem is caused by using uncoated steel nails where excessive moisture exists under the paint. The uncoated steel nails obviously cannot be removed, but you can correct the moisture problem.

Try to locate the source of excessive moisture. Check for leakage from the eaves, evaporation from nearby plumbing pipes or sweating caused by heat from a bathroom or kitchen. If you can locate the source of moisture, try eliminating the problem by shutting off the condensation that causes the moisture.

Remove any stained paint around all nail heads by sanding the area or using a wire brush. Sand clear down to the nail head, then sand the nail head itself to remove the built-up rust.

Use a nail punch to countersink all nail heads approximately 1/8″ below the wood surface.

Apply one even layer of undercoat over the countersunk nail and the area around it.

After the area is primed, fill the countersunk hole with a good grade of caulking compound. Allow the compound to dry, then apply one coat of a good grade of outside house paint. After adequate drying time, apply a second coat. Use these steps to correct the problem.

Paint sometimes peels under the overhang of a roof or in other areas of your home that are protected from weather. Such peeling is usually caused by a build-up of “salt” deposits, which are normally washed away by rain in exposed areas.

Your first step is to remove the peeling paint by sanding the surface thoroughly.

After sanding, prepare a solution using a cleaner that leaves no film such as tri-sodium phosphate and water. Wash the sanded surface with this solution. Rinse the area with clear water and allow it to dry.

After the surface has dried completely, apply two coats of a good grade of undercoating paint.

When the undercoat has thoroughly dried, apply a coat of a top-quality house paint. Under some conditions, two finish coats may be required. This treatment should correct the peeling problem.

Paint flaking is caused by moisture that collects behind the painted surface. Moisture enters the wood siding from the unpainted side. The absorbing and drying of the moisture causes repeated swelling and shrinking, thus breaking the paint film and causing it to pull away from the wood surface.

Step 1: Locate the Source: The first step is locating the source of the moisture. Check the area for leakage from the gutters or eaves of the house. If the flaking paint is near a bathroom or kitchen, the pipes may be sweating or leaking, or excess heat may be causing condensation.

Step 2: Correcting Moisture Build-Up: You may need to install attic louvers, moisture vents or exhaust fans to correct the build-up of moisture.

Step 3: Remove the Flaking Paint: Scrape and sand away all flaking paint. Remove the paint as far as 12″ in all directions beyond the flaking area.

Step 4: Sand the surface down to the unpainted wood, and spot prime the area with a good grade of undercoat.

Step 5: Protect the area against moisture by caulking all seams, holes and cracks that appear in the freshly sanded area.

Step 6: After the caulking compound has thoroughly dried, apply at least one coat of a top-quality house paint according to the manufacturer’s directions. You may need to apply two coats. These steps should completely resolve the problem.

Spot peeling sometimes occurs on the siding of a house in areas exposed to the sun’s heat. Peeling is usually caused by moisture trapped in the siding that is drawn to the surface by the sun’s rays. The moisture lifts the paint away from the surface.

The first step is locating the source of the trapped moisture. Check carefully for leaks in the gutters or eaves of the house. If the peeling area is near a kitchen or bathroom, you may need to install an exhaust fan to remove the moisture and sweat buildup. Louvers placed in the overhang of the root or wedges and vents placed in the siding sometimes allow the trapped moisture to escape.

Remove all the old paint in the peeling area. Scrape off the paint approximately 12″ beyond the peeling area. Sand the surface down to the original wood and prime it with a good grade of wood undercoat.

Caulk all holes, cracks and seams with a good grade of caulking compound to avoid a repeat of the problem. After the caulking compound has had time to dry thoroughly, apply at least one coat of a good grade of house paint. This should completely correct the problem.

Gutters and downspouts normally peel because they were not properly treated and primed when originally painted. Galvanized metal usually has a thin, invisible film that causes many paint problems.

Remove the loose paint from the downspouts and gutters with a wire brush, scraper or some other stiff tool. Use a power brush or power sander for big projects.

Be sure that all loose paint is removed. Otherwise, the problem will occur again after another painting. Don’t take shortcuts, correct the problem now by doing the job right.

If you are using latex-based paint, clean the sanded area with a good grade of solvent. Apply a heavy coat of the solvent and allow it to evaporate. Special solvents are available for treating galvanized metal.

After the solvent has evaporated, apply the latex paint directly to the bare galvanized area. For large areas, finish the job with two top coats.

If you are using an oil-based paint, prime the sanded areas with a good grade of metal primer. After the primer has dried, apply one coat of a good grade of metal paint.

Finish the job with at least one coat of a good-quality house paint. Use two coats in extreme cases.

Extreme cracking, sometimes known as alligatoring, is caused when a second or third coat of paint is applied before the previous coat dries completely. In some cases, cracking or alligatoring is caused when the undercoat is incompatible with the type of finish coat applied to the surface.

The only solution is to completely sand away the cracked or alligatored surface. Use power sanding or brushing equipment for large areas.

After the cracked or alligatored paint is completely removed from the surface, brush the area thoroughly to remove dust and loose paint particles. Apply one coat of a good quality undercoat paint. Allow the undercoat paint to dry thoroughly, then apply a second coat of a top-quality house paint of the desired color. This completely corrects the problem.

Checking usually occurs on a painted plywood surface. As the plywood veneer ages, it cracks from repeated expansion and contraction. This weathering and aging causes the painted surface to check.

When checking occurs, the entire checked area must be sanded smooth. The job will be easier with a power sander.

After the sanding is complete, prime the bare wood with one coat of good grade undercoat. Fill all holes, cracks and seams with a good grade of caulking compound. After the caulking compound and undercoat paint have dried thoroughly, apply one layer of a good grade of outside house paint.

In cases where the plywood is extremely aged, you may need to replace the wood completely. If new plywood is mounted, you can prevent it from checking by sanding the surface of the new plywood smooth.

After sanding, apply one coat of a good grade of latex wood primer. After the primer has thoroughly dried, apply one or two coats of a top-quality outside house paint.

Mildew is caused by a combination of high humidity and high temperature that creates a growth of fungus on the paint film.

Completely remove mildew from the surface. If you simply paint over it, the mildew will grow right through the new coat of paint.

Make a solution of 1/3 cup of powdered detergent and 1/2 cup of household bleach mixed in one gallon of warm water. Scrub the entire mildewed surface thoroughly using this solution. Scrub the area vigorously, then rinse lightly with clean water.

Apply one coat of a good grade of undercoat paint, and allow it to dry. After the undercoat layer has thoroughly dried, apply a finish coat of mildew-resistant outside paint or a top-grade of latex outside house paint. This procedure will remove the mildew problem.

Blistering is caused by moisture trapped in the wood that is drawn to the surface by the sun’s rays. As the moisture rises, it pulls the paint away from the surface and causes blistering.

Locate the source of the excess moisture and eliminate it. Check first for leakage from the gutters or eaves of the house. If the area is near a bathroom or kitchen, you may need to install an exhaust fan to remove the excess heat, steam and moisture.

You can also install moisture vents or wedges in the siding to permit the moisture to escape. Scrape or sand away all the old paint in the blistered area down to the wood. Scrape the un-blistered paint out about 12″ beyond the blistered area.

Next, sand this area thoroughly, right down to the fresh wood. Then prime it with a good grade of undercoat paint.

Block future moisture problems by sealing all cracks, holes and seams with a good grade of caulking compound. After the caulking compound and undercoat have dried thoroughly, apply a second coat of a good grade of outside house paint. This eliminates the problem.

Chalking and flaking on masonry surfaces are usually caused by inadequate preparation of the surface prior to painting. This causes the paint to flake off or powder.

First, remove the chalking or flaking with a wire brush or by sandblasting. If the job is big, use power sanders or wire brushes.

Next, seal all cracks with a good grade of concrete patch or caulk. After sealing the cracks, apply masonry conditioner following the manufacturer’s instructions.

After the masonry conditioner has thoroughly dried, apply one or two coats of a good grade of latex house paint or an exterior masonry paint. Your flaking problem is corrected!

ROLLER MARKS — a rookie no-no

Roller marks or stipple and any unintentional textured pattern left in the paint finish by the roller.



  • Use a roller cover with the proper frame and nap.
  • Avoid too long a nap for the paint and the substrate.
  • Use a quality roller cover to ensure adequate film thickness is applied and the uniformity of the finish.
  • Quality paint roller covers are built around a phenolic, plastic or wire mesh core that will not soften when wet.
  • High quality paints tend to roll on more evenly due to their higher solids content and leveling properties.
  • Moisten roller covers used with latex paint and shake out all excess water.
  • Use a quality roller frame, not one with removable end caps that may mark walls.
  • Apply even pressure and don’t let paint build up at the ends of the roller.
  • Begin rolling at a corner near the ceiling and work down the wall in three or foot square sections.
  • Spread paint on in a zigzag “M” pattern, beginning with an upward stroke to minimize spatter


  1. Without lifting the roller from the surface fill in the zigzag pattern with even parallel strokes.

If in doubt about anything, just ask. Every project poses some unique problems.

Masking Tape on Glass: Don’t do it. Chances are you won’t get it off. Go ahead and get paint on the glass, and take it off later with a single-sided razor.

Closing a Paint Can: Get the excess paint out of the rim first. Some people punch small nail holes in the rim so the paint drains back into the can. The more paint you have there, the greater the amount that’ll go flying out when you pound the lid back on. (And paint in the rim also makes removing the lid more difficult later.) Pressing it with your palm is usually all you’ll need to do; definitely cover it with a rag if you’re going to pound it shut.

Tape Screws to Hardware: You won’t lose the screws for your wall plates, and any other fixtures you remove, if you keep them together.

For Heat Registers and Grills: A small-size flexible foam paint pad comes in handy to reach the crannies. Aerosol spray painting works well on them, too – when they’re not blowing air at you, of course.

Don’t Over Brush Enamel: It will harden full of ridges. Apply generously with light strokes and avoid brushing over it again once it’s on. Don’t procrastinate on finishing. For strong adhesion between coats, don’t let more than two weeks go by between applications.

Old Newspapers vs. Drop Cloths: If using newspapers was any good, there wouldn’t be such a thing as drop cloths.

Use Roller Sleeves One Time Only: They’re inexpensive. And they’re ineffective once they start disintegrating, which is likely to happen if you try washing them. Make sure you’ve got plenty around if you’re going to be doing the work piecemeal over a number of days.

Be Firm With Your Four-Footed Friends: Careful, or your Siamese cat will become a calico and your baseboard will have a beard. As much as you love having your little sweeties around, and well-behaved as they might be, a room with paint trays and wet walls is no place for animals. So make sure they’re secured in another part of the house while you’re working, or that wagging tail might hit the wall and become a hapless paintbrush. In homes with small children the same advice holds true, but if you have small children you already know that.

Courtesy of the National Retail Hardware Association