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The Home Depot

Guide to Fix Cracked Paint

Pro Referral > Home Guides > Painting > Guide to Fix Cracked Paint
Guide to Fix Cracked Paint

There’s no way to sugar-coat this matter. When cracks begin to show-up on a painted surface, there’s more painting ahead for you. Of course, you could cover it up with paneling or a mammoth poster. But, out-of-sight-out-of-mind is not part of your vocabulary. You’re a fixer.

  1. 1.Where Are The Cracks?

    There’s no way to sugar-coat this matter. When cracks begin to show-up on a painted surface, there’s more painting ahead for you.

    Ask yourself: What room are the cracks in? Is it on a wall or on the ceiling?


    The technique is going to be pretty much the same for all-of-the-above. What separates them is the type of materials you’re going to need to repair the previous paint job.

  2. 2.Finding The Source

    Why are things cracking-up in the first place? By answering this question you might be able to avoid having to perform what you’re about to do every couple of months. Say the problem showed its ugly face because of expansion and contraction on the surface in question. This may be beyond your control. Think about talking to a pro.

  3. 3.Groundwork

    Arrange a tarp on the floor to catch everything that’s about to happen. Pin it down. That way when you walk across it, you won’t take it with you, attached to the heel of your shoe.


    Put on a surgical masks and some goggles. You’re going to be scraping the entire surface and you want to protect yourself from breathing any airborne materials. If you’ve ever tried to comb dry paint out of your hair, you know all about the purpose of a hat when performing a project like this.

  4. 4.Spackle®

    Before we get to the goo, we need to start ridding the surface of chips and peels that may have formed. Once finished, grab a sheet of sandpaper and work over the rough surface. Lightly rub out the bumps on either the ceiling or wall.


    Put a blob of Spackle® on a putty knife and fill in any of the gaps which have been exposed. If you have any other holes or openings, plug them, too. Smooth things out so that everything is flush. Repeat this process, over-and-over-and-over-and-over until you’ve repaired the entire surface.


    You’ll want to wait for the Spackle® to dry. This might take overnight for the glop to harden.

  5. 5.Sand The Surface

    Once dry, sand the Spackle® with 150-grit sandpaper until the surface is smooth. Even if you plan to add texture to the wall or ceiling, it’s a good plan to prepare the area correctly.

  6. 6.Type Of Paint

    Are you using the right type of paint for the job? Remember, its lousy form to apply a water-based paint over an oil-based paint. Likewise, if the room or ceiling you’re about to coat is in an area where it gets a little steamy, you want to get something that’s not going to cause mold or mildew.


    To determine if the area you’re about to paint is oil or latex, use a small cotton ball. Soak it with denatured alcohol. Find a less visible part of the surface and rub it lightly on the area. If the existing paint goes soft on you or rubs off, it’s a latex/water-based paint.

  7. 7.Begin Painting

    Once you’ve done your prep, thoroughly clean the surfaces with a damp sponge. Let the area dry as you remove all plates over electrical outlets and switches. Apply a thick, easy-to-remove, masking tape around doors and windows to protect spill-over.


    You want to take a top-to-bottom approach when painting: Ceiling, walls, windows, doors and finally, the trim.


    Obviously, if you’re covering a dark surface, you’re going you use more paint. If you have a light colored surface and are going darker, you’ll save money on the cost of materials.


    When you’ve completed the job, air-out the room by opening a window-or-two. Bring a fan to the area to help blow-out and dry the paint. Once you move the furniture back in the newly painted space, you’ll admiringly see why you started this project in the first place.

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