Emulsion paint is made with synthetic resins, pigments, additives, and water. This water-based paint is popular because it’s affordable, durable, and easy to apply. Additionally, it dries faster than oil-based paints.
Emulsion paint that flakes off a surface starts out when cracked paint start 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 typically means the old plaster is sapping the moisture out, not the paint. Or the new plaster is not 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. However, to begin repairing the cracks in paint, you’ll need to first figure out why exactly your emulsion paint is cracking in the first place.
What Causes Emulsion Paint to Crack?
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.
Some of the biggest problems are cheap paint being used and rising dampness in new or old plaster. Other causes might also include:
- Spreading the paint on too thinly when applying it.
- Painting a surface that has been painted and already shows warning signs of flaking or craving.
- Poor preparation of the surface, especially if you are painting bare walls or wood without a primer.
- The old paint naturally becomes brittle on the surface and stops contracting with humidity and temperature fluctuation.
Problems With Rising Damp
Rising dampness is typically a form of structural dampness that becomes noticeable when moisture moves upwards through walls, floors, and masonry.
When there’s rising dampness, you might notice a cracked paint problem that should be fixed using the primer solution. After it has completely dried, you can apply the paint. If you follow the steps correctly and use the primer, the rising dampness will be prevented, and no cracks should appear.
Problems with Cheap Emulsion Paints
It can be overwhelming to choose a paint brand from among the hundreds available. Some brands perform better than others, but remember that the cheap brands may require up to six coats to look good since they are often diluted.
So, investing in a high-quality emulsion paint with the flexibility to prevent cracking and ensure long-lasting results is beneficial.
How to Repair the Cracks in Emulsion Paint?
If you haven’t applied primer to your wall before painting it with emulsion, there is a high chance that you will see cracks developing over time.
Eventually, the paint will start to peel off, making it necessary to repaint the walls to improve their appearance. If you ever need to do this, follow the general steps below:
- Scrap any cracked paint from the wall using a wire brush or a scraper.
- Sand the area to ensure it’s smooth.
- Make a primer using equal amounts of PVA and water.
- Apply this primer solution to the affected areas, allow it to dry, and then repaint it.
If the crack goes all the way down to the substrate, you will want to remove loose or flaking paint using the methods such as sanding, scraping, abrasive blasting, or a heat gun.
After the paint is removed and the surface is smooth, you can then prime and repaint the area with high-quality emulsion or latex paint.
How to Avoid Flaking Emulsion Paint Problems in the Future?
Never ever paint over any cracked or flaking paint directly on your walls or ceiling. It will not adhere well and will fall apart fast.
Instead, taking time to sand, clean, and prime the walls before you apply emulsion paint in the future is crucial if you want to avoid cracks. Using an effective primer before you begin painting will seal the plaster so it doesn’t absorb the moisture before it is meant to and therefore avoids making the paint peel off quickly.
Then, when applying the emulsion paint, be sure to spread it evenly and in multiple thin coats. If possible, try to purchase a high-quality emulsion paint with a flexible finish that will adjust to changing temperatures and humidity levels.
After you apply the first coat, let it dry entirely before you add another coat on top.
Finally, make sure to check for any sources of dampness in your walls, such as a leaking pipe, before you begin painting. This will help avoid any further issues with dampness and cracking paint in the future.
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 it manually and prepare the surface to accept fresh paint without the risk of cracking in the future.
Hopefully, the tips in the article have given you some insight into fixing the emulsion paint cracks and preventing them from happening again.
Jack Luis is a semi-retired painter who loved painting his clients’ ideas on their walls.
He had worked as a painter for over a decade serving customers in areas such as Charleston, Mount Pleasant, Beaufort, and Georgetown, SC (South Carolina). Today in his free time, he likes to read and write about the newer techniques implemented in his profession. You may read more about him here or get in touch with him here.