Does your building have flaking, cracking paint? It could be something that painting professionals refer to as “paint failure.”

Paint failure, or paint adhesion loss, is the reduction of bond strength between a coat of paint and the surface to which it’s applied. This failure can occur if a coat is thin, inconsistent, or if there’s a failed adhesion in the application.

Without proper preparation and know-how, a seemingly nice coat of paint can fail, ruining your walls and forcing you to start from scratch. Here’s everything you need to know about paint failure, including what causes it, how to spot it, and why you should fix it early.

Causes of Flaky and Cracking Paint

While flaking occurs when paint is lifted from the underlying wall surface, cracking is caused by the splitting of a dry paint film from one or more coats of paint. According to painting experts, these two symptoms can occur for a few main reasons:

  • Water/Humidity: Paint that’s applied to a damp surface or paint that’s exposed to high humidity can peel easily. Plywood especially can expand and contract depending on humidity levels, making it prone to cracks and flaking in the surface coating.
  • Lack of Surface Preparation: When your paint surface is dirty or isn’t primed properly it’s prone to cracking and flaking even with a just a thin layer.
  • Expired or Low-Quality Paint: These paints can peel much more quickly than fresh, high-quality paint.
  • Improper Application: This is the most common cause of paint failure, especially when wood with an excessive amount of a “flat” hard grain is used.

Your best chance for avoiding paint failure when applying a coat of paint on your own is to be sure you’re using quality paint on a properly-prepared dry surface. If you’re not sure you can tackle this yourself, reach out to a painting professional you can trust.

How to Identify Flaking Paint

Identifying cracking paint in the early stages is simple if you know what to look for, such as the image below.

Early signs of cracking paintAs you’re watching for abnormalities on your walls, look for very small cracks similar to those at the top of the image above. These are early-stage hairline cracks – a sign of problems to come.

Flaky, cracking paintBut in the later stages, as you can see towards the bottom of the image above, the paint begins to separate and crack apart, making the problem more serious and harder to fix.

Eventually, the paint will curl and flake onto the floor (like in the picture below), so if you’re seeing pieces of your wall or ceiling littering the ground, that’s a sign that your building is suffering from paint failure.

This means there’s an issue with how your paint is attaching to your walls, and, if the problem has gone through your substrate, it could be costly. The sooner you notice the signs of paint cracking or flaking and bring in a professional, the quicker and easier it will be to fix it.

How It’s Harmful

Aesthetically, a building with cracked, flaking paint isn’t inviting. Your business needs an up-to-date paint job to maintain a clean, professional image, especially if you rely on foot traffic for customers.

But besides being a visually unappealing, cracking, flaking paint can sometimes be dangerous or an indicator of something more serious happening inside your walls.

If your building was built before 1978, there’s a chance that you could be dealing with paint that has lead in it. Lead paint is most dangerous when it’s cracking, blistering, or flaking, because it’s deteriorating and can cause lead-contaminated dust to be released into the air. This may lead to health problems in people of all ages, so it’s important to take precautions against it. Make sure your walls are tested for lead before taking on any big renovations.

Cracks can also give you clues that there are problems beneath the surface of your walls. Cracks that are larger than a normal, thin hairline crack (3/16” of an inch) could be an indicator of a structural issue, especially if these cracks are jagged and don’t go in one consistent direction.

Plus, with a crack in the paint of an outdoor wall, you have the risk of water leaking inside. If drywall or plaster surrounding the crack feels damp, you may have a water infiltration issue which requires immediate attention by a structural professional.

Benefits of Fixing Paint Failure Early

By finding the signs of hairline cracking in your walls early on, you’ll be able to save yourself hassle and money in the future.

Smaller, hairline cracks can be fixed more easily as a DIY project with the proper tools. But, if you have peeling or flaking paint, you’re at risk for water damage or damage to the substrate beneath that require professional attention. Depending on how deep the damage goes within your walls, it will cost more and more to replace it, so it’s important to call in a professional immediately.

By routinely looking for smaller cracks, you’ll be able to avoid pricier renovations and replacements of your walls’ paint in the future.

Bringing In an Expert

Since flaking or cracking paint can cause a commercial building to lose its aesthetics and appreciated value, it is important that you repair them when they begin to appear.

Considering that improper paint application is a major factor in this, it’s imperative to choose a reputable commercial painting professional who can repair flaking and cracking paint and will properly apply high-quality paint and coatings that are formulated for the specific surface and environmental conditions.

If you are noticing hairline cracks or peeling, flaky paint on your building’s walls, contact Independence Painting today. We’d be happy to examine your building and determine the best solution possible.