How To

Paint Problem Solver

Hirshfield’s comprehensive paint problem solving guide provides detailed information on most types of paint problems. Depending on your paint issue, select from the ‘Interior’ or ‘Exterior’ buttons and select a problem to learn more about possible causes as well as the solution to obtain a quality paint finish.


Patterned cracking in the surface of the paint film resembling the regular scales of an alligator.


Bubbles resulting from localized loss of adhesion, and lifting of the paint film from the underlying surface.


Undesirable sticking together of two painted surfaces when pressed together (e.g., a door sticking to the jamb).


Increase in gloss or sheen of paint film when subjected to rubbing, scrubbing or having an object brush up against it.

Caulk Failure

Loss of caulk's initial adhesion and flexibility, causing it to crack and/or pull away from the surfaces to which it it applied.


Formation of fine powder on the surface of the paint film.

Chalking Rundown

The washing down of chalk from an excessively eroding paint onto another area below.

Cracking / Flaking

The splitting of a dry paint film through at least one coat, which will lead to complete failure of the paint.

Cracking and Flaking

The splitting of a dry paint film through at least one coat as a result of aging.

Dirt Pickup

Accumulation of dirt, dust particles and/or other debris on the paint film; may resemble mildew.

Efflorescence / Mottling

Crusty, white salt deposits, leached from mortar or masonry as water passes through it.


Premature and/or excessive lightening of the paint color, which often occurs on surfaces with sunny southern exposure.

Foaming and Cratering

Formation of bubbles (foaming) and resulting small, round concave depressions (cratering) after bubbles break during the drying process.


A white, salt-like substance on the paint surface.


Appearance of a denser color or increased gloss where wet and dry layers overlap during paint application.


Black, gray or brown spots or areas on the surface of paint or caulk.


Black, gray or brown areas of fungus growth on the surface of paint or caulk.

Mud Cracking

Deep, irregular cracks resembling dried mud in dry paint film.

Nailhead Rusting

Reddish-brown stains and spots on the paint surface.

Paint Incompatibility

Loss of adhesion where many old coats of alkyd or oil-based paint receive a latex top coat.


Loss of paint due to poor adhesion.

Picture Framing

An effect of non uniform color that can appear when a wall is painted with a roller, but is brushed at the corners.

Poor Alkali Resistance

Color loss and overall deterioration of paint film on fresh masonry.

Poor Galvanized Metal Adhesion

Paint that has lost its adhesion to a galvanized metal substrate.

Poor Gloss Retention

Deterioration of the paint film, resulting in excessive or rapid loss of luster of the top coat.

Poor Hiding

Failure of dried paint to obscure or "hide" the surface to which it is applied.

Poor Print Resistance

Tendency of paint film to take on the imprint of an object that is placed on it.

Poor Scrub Resistance

Excessive wearing away of the paint film from repeated scrubbing.

Poor Sheen Uniformity

Shiny spots or dull spots (also known as "flashing") on a painted surface; uneven gloss.

Poor Stain Resistance

Failure of the paint to resist absorption of dirt and stains.

Roller Marks and Stipple

Unintentional textured pattern left in the paint by the roller.

Roller Spattering

Tendency of a roller to throw off small droplets of paint during application.


Downward "drooping" movement of the paint film immediately after application, resulting in an uneven coating.

Surfactant Leaching

Concentration of water-soluble ingredients on latex paint, creating a blotchy, sometimes glossy appearance, often with a tan or brownish cast.

Surfactant Leaching

Concentration of water-soluble ingredients on the surface of a latex paint, typically on a ceiling surface in rooms that have high humidity.

Vinyl Siding Warp

Warping or buckling of vinyl siding panels that have been repainted.

Wax Bleed

Stains that come from waxy substance in the reconstituted wood products used to make hardboard siding.


A rough, crinkled paint surface, which occurs when uncured paint forms a "skin."


Development of a yellow cast in aging paint; most noticeable in the dried films of white paints or clear varnishes.