Problems When Painting

Even with the most careful planning, problems can sometimes occur. Below you will find descriptions of some of the most common painting problems you are likely to encounter.

Blisters Mostly found when painting in wet conditions outside the house. Inside, they can be caused by painting over old, soft paint. If there are a lot of blisters, strip back to bare wood and repaint. An isolated blister can be cut out; should sound paint be found underneath then fill the depression with fine surface filler and apply new undercoat and gloss. If bare wood is found then use shellac knotting (if necessary) followed by primer; then proceed as above. Brush marks Caused by not rubbing down old paintwork properly, or by applying too thick a coat of paint or by using poor quality brushes. Using old, thick paint is another cause; thick paint should be thinned, but never overthinned, following the instructions on the can.

Specks Pimples on the surface show more prominently in a shiny finish. The cause is specks of dust getting on the brush or into the paint.

Runs, sags and wrinkles All these are caused by poor painting techniques. The paint has been applied too thickly, or not spread evenly. If noticed immediately when the paint is fresh and wet then they can be brushed out lightly. If attempted when the paint has started to dry the surface will be smeared.

Dull gloss Due to poor preparation, not allowing sufficient drying time between coats, incorrect use of thinners, or over-brushing the paint.

No hiding power When the previous colour shows through the top coat the problem is usually due to using the wrong undercoat below the gloss or not applying a sufficient number of undercoats. Other causes are not stirring the paint properly, overthinning the paint or overbrushing the gloss.


Should any of the problems above occur, then let the paint harden and dry for about four days. The surface should then be rubbed down lightly using fine grade glass-paper; wipe away and dust then apply another finishing coat.

Problems in kitchens and bathrooms

You may experience problems with paint-work breaking up because of condensation in these rooms. If this happens you will obviously want to redecorate, but you should try to eliminate the condensation.

The best way to prevent condensation is to provide good ventilation by fitting an extractor fan and ensuring that all vents are unobstructed. Another solution is to apply anti-condensation paint to the walls. This contains an insulating substance. It can be painted over in any colour.

When repainting, check the manufacturer’s instructions on the paint can to make sure that the paint is suitable for kitchens and bathrooms. In addition, avoid using gloss paint on kitchen and bathroom walls, as it exaggerates the effect of condensation.

Outdoor woodwork

When tackling outdoor woodwork, the essential point is to prepare carefully. Exterior woodwork takes a battering from the weather and if it is to remain in good condition its surface must be prepared well before you apply any paint. If the existing paintwork is in quite good condition this is simply a matter of sanding down the surface to provide a good base for the new paint. Use wet and dry paper and rinse the surface with clean water when you have rubbed it down. Next apply the undercoat and when this is dry, sand the surface once more, this time using dry paper. You can then put on the finishing coat.

More often, however, the paint on exterior woodwork has started to deteriorate before you repaint it. If this is the case, start by scraping the surface thoroughly. Remove all the old paint. If it has started to flake, you will probably be able to do this with an ordinary hand paint scraper. If it is more stubborn use either an orbital sander or a purpose-made hot-air paint stripper. When you have got all the old paint off the woodwork, brush away the dust and apply a coat of primer. When this has dried, fill any holes or cracks with a proprietory wood filler. Put on the undercoat when this has set. For best results you should then apply two top coats. If you follow this procedure carefully, your outdoor paintwork will last well and it will provide an excellent protection against the weather.