What to Do About Bubbling Paint

  • House Painters
  • Transcript

    LESLIE: Helen in Arizona is on the line with a question about some bubbling paint. What is going on?

    HELEN: I had my – the exterior of my home painted last summer. And the painter had power-washed it. Came back in a couple of days – a day or two – and actually did the painting. And it was about two months after that, I happened to notice little bubbles appearing under the paint. And I presume that’s because there’s water under that paint.

    TOM: Not necessarily. What you have is an adhesion issue with this bubbling paint. So the paint’s not sticking to the wood siding or the substrate, whatever it is. This is a wood-sided house?

    HELEN: Yeah, it’s a manufactured home, yes.

    TOM: OK. Do you know if your painter applied a primer? Or did he just put the topcoat paint on?

    HELEN: I’m trying to think if my paint did have primer in it.

    TOM: Well, it wouldn’t have it in it; it would be a second coat. See, the right procedure would have been to scrape or pressure-wash – as he did, in this case – to get rid of the loose bubbling paint, algae or mildew and so on, let it dry and then prime it.

    HELEN: Right.

    TOM: Because primer is what makes the paint stick. Now, if he didn’t prime it and the paint’s separating after two months, that’s a big problem. And it’s a problem for your painter because he did something wrong. There’s no way that paint should be failing after two months.

    HELEN: I had it painted the fall prior and the person did a terrible job. And so, I decided to change colors and have it done again.

    TOM: The new painter – the guy who does it accepts the condition of the house. So, if the first guy made any mistakes, then the second guy’s job is to correct those mistakes so that his work looks good.

    HELEN: But there was no bubbling after the first paint job.

    TOM: OK. I heard you on that. But OK, no matter what was there before, you need to make sure that the house was not only cleaned and loose paint removed but primed. Because at some point, you’re going to – you can’t keep putting layers upon layers of paint and expect every one to stick to the one before it.

    Primer is the glue that makes the paint stick. And if he did not prime – and I think that’s probably a good reason for the bubbling paint. Two days in warm weather should probably have been enough to deal with any moisture from the pressure-washing. Heck, it’s not much more than just a heavy rainfall. So, I think what you need to do is to contact that painter and have them back and have a discussion as to why your paint’s failing after a short period of time. It absolutely should not be happening.

    Thanks for calling us and wish you the best of luck with that project.

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