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The Home Depot

What Causes Paint to Crack?

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

A newly finished paint job can add new life and value to your home. But if the job is not done properly, those feelings of accomplishment can soon give way to frustration. There are a number of reasons why newly laid paint can start to crack over time. Most of these have to do with a failure to properly prepare the painting surface prior to starting of the project.


Here are the most common reasons why the paint on your walls could start to crack and how to avoid falling victim to one of these problems.

  1. Paint that is too thin is not going to stick or dry properly and will become readily apparent as soon as it dries.

    1.Failure to Prime Properly

    If you do not properly prime your walls prior to painting, you are asking for trouble. A good primer will remove moisture from the walls and allow the paint to be laid on a completely dry surface. If the plaster is not sealed properly by the primer, the paint will not dry properly, causing cracks as it dries.

  2. 2.Being Cheap

    That paint in the bargain or clearance section of your local home improvement store might be there for a reason. Inexpensive paint is also often low quality paint. Low quality paint simply does not have the same adhesion to stick to the walls as paint of a higher quality. Yes, it might be nice to save a few bucks on your home improvement project, but it’s not going to save you anything if you have to redo the entire job due to cracked paint.

  3. 3.Mixing Paint Types

    If you are repainting over an already painted surface, you must know what type of paint is already on the wall. An oil based paint on top of a latex paint is not going to work without a special primer. The paint will simply not dry properly, it won’t be able to “stick” to the latex surface.

  4. 4.Additional Cheapness

    You’re reaching the end of your bucket but you still have quite a ways to go on the wall. Instead of going back to the store for more paint, you decide to make do with what you have and just spread the paint thinner across the remaining surface. Big mistake. Paint that is too thin is not going to stick or dry properly and will become readily apparent as soon as it dries. Then, you’ll have to go back to the store and buy a new bucket anyway, only now you’ve lost time in addition to money. Do it right the first time.

  5. 5.Painting Too Quickly

    Paint needs time to dry properly. If you have a big project to complete, it’s understandable that you might try to cut a few corners try to get it done fast. But trying to lay a new coat of paint on top of a layer that is not completely dry is just going to make a mess. The new paint won’t be able to set properly on top of still wet first layer underneath. That moisture will cause a headache for you as you watch the paint crack as it dries. When you finish a paint layer, take a break from that room. Go work on another wall or another project. Doing it properly the first time will save you time in the long run.


    Cracked paint is something no do it yourself handyman wants to see. If you take the time to properly prepare for the job and don’t cut corners while completing the project, the extra effort will be worth it in the long run.

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