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The Home Depot

What Causes Paint to Blister?

Pro Referral > Home Guides > Painting > What Causes Paint to Blister?
What Causes Paint to Blister?

Chances are, if you’re reading this article, you’ve just experienced every painter’s worst nightmare. Just as you finished painting the last wall of your project, you take a look back at the now dry first wall you started on when you see it: tiny bubbles showing up all along the wall. These bubbles, also referred to as blisters can be avoided but only if you take time to properly prepare for the job.


Blistering occurs when one layer of paint is not sticking properly to the coat that is underneath. Let’s take a look at some of the most common reasons why those annoying little bubbles or blisters can show up on your wall.

  1. 1.Moisture:

    Any time you lay a fresh coat of paint, you’ll want to make sure that the surface is completely dry. Even just a little bit of moisture on the surface can completely derail a paint job before it even starts. Blisters most often occur the bathroom or kitchen. If you have water pipes running through your walls, you’ll want to take extra caution to make sure that area is dry prior to starting. If you’ve just taken a shower, there’s probably some moisture on the walls of the bathroom. Give it time to properly dry.

  2. If the paint already on your wall is latex, use latex paint for the coat that’s going over it. Putting an oil paint over a latex paint is a recipe for disaster.
  3. 2.Dirt:

    If you’re walls are not clean prior to painting, those annoying little blisters are going to show up for each and every spec of dirt in the wall. Sometimes, you’ll even be able to see the grime stuck inside the newly laid paint. Yuck. Always take the time to give the walls a proper scrub down before starting any job. Don’t forget to make sure the wall is completely dry after washing, otherwise you’re going to run right back into that moisture problem again. Even if the wall doesn’t look like it’s covered in dirt, it’s always a good idea to scrub down the walls anyway. Don’t forget to vacuum the floors too. Even dust and dirt on the ground can affect a paint job if particles are floating up into

  4. 3.High humidity:

    A hot summer’s day might be good for swimming or playing outside with the kids, but it’s just a hot mess for someone attempting a paint project. High humidity can create the same problem with moisture that was previously mentioned. If you’re painting indoors, make sure it’s properly air conditioned inside if the temperature outside is above 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

  5. 4.Mixing paint types:

    If the paint already on your wall is latex, use latex paint for the coat that’s going over it. Putting an oil paint over a latex paint is a recipe for disaster. The paint won’t dry properly and can lead to cracking, peeling and yes, blisters. If you want to use an oil paint and you know the surface is already covered in latex, you’ll have to either use a special primer or sand and chip away at the latex paint and remove it completely prior to putting down the oil based coat.


    Paint blisters can be avoided with some easy preparation steps. If you get paint blisters on your wall, you’ll have to scrape them off and paint that section of the wall again. Take the time to make sure you start your painting job on correct footing.

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