Why is My Emulsion Paint Cracking – How to Fix and Prevent?

Fixing Cracked Emulsion Paint

Emulsion paint that flakes off of a surface starts out when cracked paint starts to peel away from the original substrate.

In the beginning stages, the issue presents itself as small hairline cracks in the emulsion paint that are hard to notice.

Over time, these cracks will widen and cause unsightly chipping and peeling of the paint.

Cracking paint owes its causes to a variety of issues, like cheap paint and new or damp plaster.

If you’ve recently painted your ceiling and walls with matte emulsion paint and have noticed cracks showing up across the span of paint, there is likely an underlying issue.

Cracking paint typically means the old plaster is sapping the moisture out not the paint or the new plaster is not being well prepared to accept the paint.

Using a high-quality emulsion paint with flexibility might help with the cracking because of its ability to move.

What Causes Emulsion Paint to Crack?

To begin repairing the cracks in paint, you’ll need to first figure out why your emulsion paint is cracking at all.

As mentioned, some of the biggest issues are new or old plaster, cheap paint, or rising damp problems. Other causes include:

  • Poor preparation of the surface, especially if you are painting bare wood without a primer or painting a surface that has already been painted and already shows warning signs of flaking or craving
  • Spreading the paint on too thinly when applying it
  • Old paint naturally becomes brittle and stops contracting with humidity and temperature fluctuation
Peeling Emulsion Paint

How To Repair the Cracks in Emulsion Paint?

If you haven’t already primed your wall to prepare it for emulsion, then the chances are high that you will begin to notice cracks.

The cracks will begin to cause the paint to peel away, leaving you with the need to repaint the walls in order to make them look right.

To do so, follow these general steps:

  1. Scrape any cracked paint off of the wall.
  2. Sand the area to ensure it is smooth.
  3. Create a primer using half PVA and half water.
  4. Apply the primer solution to the areas that are affected.
  5. Allow it to dry and then paint it again.

If this doesn’t work, you may not be applying the right method of removal of the paint in relation to the substrate:

1- If the cracks go down to the substrate, you can remove the loose or flaking paint using a wire brush or scraper.

Then, you can sand the area, feather the edges, put primer on any bare areas and finally repaint the area.

2- If the crack goes all the way down to the substrate, then you will want to remove as much as you can.

Some of the methods for doing so include sanding, scraping, abrasive blasting, or a heat gun.

After the paint is removed and the surface is even and smooth, you can then prime and repaint the area with high-quality latex paint.

Priming the walls before you paint them in the future is crucial if you want to avoid cracks.

Using an effective primer will seal the plaster, so it doesn’t absorb the moisture before it is meant to and therefore avoids making the paint crack.

Problems With Rising Damp

Rising damp is a form of structural dampness that becomes evident when moisture rises through walls, floors, and masonry.

If you are experiencing issues with rising dampness, the paint may also begin to crack. You’ll need to take care of this issue before you paint the walls.

After the wall has dried and you’re ready to paint, you will want to apply the primer solution that was mentioned earlier. After it has completely dried, you can apply the paint.

If this is done properly, you won’t see any cracks forming, as the primer will stop the rising dampness.

Problems with Cheap Emulsion Paints

There are hundreds of paint brands. Just like any other kind of product, some of them do the job well while some of them mostly fail at the task.

Many cheap paint brands are incredibly watered down and diluted, so you’ll need to apply as many as six coats of paint to make it look good.

It is worth it to pay for a higher-quality emulsion paint with flexibility, not only to prevent cracks but also to ensure it outlasts the years.

Here are a Few Tips for Preventing Flaking Emulsion Paint Problems You Can Follow:

  • Be sure you prepare the surface before painting. This means taking time to sand, clean and prime the surface before you begin painting it.
  • Let each coat of paint you apply dry entirely before you add another coat on top.
  • Never paint over any cracked or flaking paint.

The Bottom Line

Cracked paint can create a serious eyesore on your walls and ceilings, but fortunately, it is not a permanent issue.

There are ways you can remove this paint manually and prepare the surface to accept more paint without the risk of cracking in the future.

You can take extra steps to eliminate cracking by sanding and priming the surface before applying another coat of paint.

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